White garde nwith varying textures and forms in St.Paul garden

White garden with varying textures and forms in St.Paul garden

Whenever I attend an out-of-town conference, I always return with plants, having had the opportunity to visit new nurseries and garden centers and to receive plants from trade show vendors.

Then, of course, when I return, I have to find the time to plant them. But before I can do that, I have to create permanent labels for them and I have to decide where to place them. This is not as easy as it sounds. It’s not enough to just have an empty space. The plants need to be in spaces where the light and moisture will be optimal and where the form, texture, and color will fit in a designerly way.

Stachys 'Pink Cotton Candy'-estabrooksonline.com

Stachys ‘Pink Cotton Candy’-estabrooksonline.com

Stachys monieri 'Hummelo' in my garden

Stachys monieri ‘Hummelo’ in my garden

For instance, while at the PPA symposium in Minnepolis, I purchased Stachys ‘Pink Cotton Candy’ with the intent of placing it next to Stachys monieri ‘Hummelo’ so that I can, in the future, compare their size, growth habit, and color.

Layered garden; Aralia 'Sun King', peony, Phlox; Jacquot-PPA-Balltimore; 7/27/15

Aralia ‘Sun King’ in Balltimore garden in 2015

I also returned with two Aralia cordata ‘Sun King’. This aralia has yellow foliage and supposedly retains its color in part shade. I planted one in the spring toward the back of a bed that only receives late afternoon sun. Sadly, the leaves are mostly green; they barely have a tinge of chartreuse. Therefore, I wanted the chance to play with this plant to find the optimal situation for it. I have planted the new ones in two different locations – one where it will get strong morning light but shade in the afternoon, and the other in a north facing location where it will receive bright light all day. Additionally, the second one is placed between a cut-leaf Japanese maple and a mophead hydrangea, thus a variation of textures.

Perovskia 'Denim 'n Lace'-burpee.com

Perovskia ‘Denim ‘n Lace’-burpee.com

I’ve never had great luck with Russian Sage so this time I am planting Perovskia ‘Denim and Lace’ in the most well-drained section of the garden.

Tricyrtis formosana 'Autumn Glow-gardencrossings.com

Tricyrtis formosana ‘Autumn Glow-gardencrossings.com

I love Japanese Toad Lily and have several different cultivars but I noticed in one of the containers for sale in the silent auction that the Tricyrtis ‘Autumn Glow’ seemed to have unusually strong stems. Being a plant that thrives in part shade, I’ve planted it in a bed that will only receive a few hours of sun in the late afternoon. I am hopeful that it will still bloom this year in September.

Astilbe chinensis 'Purple Rain'-zulily.com

Astilbe chinensis ‘Purple Rain’-zulily.com

There are two types of Astilbe, the clumpers and the runners. Each is appropriate for the right space. Along my driveway, I have a space full of old-fashioned, double orange daylilies that the deer love and ivy. Yesterday, I dug them out. Additionally, this space is wet in spring and dry in summer. Astilbe chinensis, the running kind, are much more drought tolerant than the clumpers. Fortunately, this is an area that is easy to reach with the hose that I use to water my back driveway containers. Therefore, I have planted ‘Purple Rain’. I can hardly wait to see them next summer.

It’s always a challenge finding the right spots for my new plants but I love tweaking the garden.