Spring 2012: To Do and To Buy

Our backyard bird bath as seen from second story window.

Gardening is supposed to impart wisdom concerning signs from the natural world as to when is the proper time to sow and reap, etc. For me, when it’s cold and the pile of catalogues by my side of the bed is as high as the bottom of the mattress, I know it is time to make my wish list for spring planting in the garden.

So here goes:

1) Replace the Heliopsis in the bed along the sidewalk. By the end of the season, the Heliopsis is really smothering and shading the Salvia and other plants I’ve put closer to the sidewalk. I want something shorter and more upright. I think I’ll go with Achillea “Schwellenberg”,  a yellow yarrow I saw in the Bluestone Perennials catalogue.

2) Replace the Korean lilac on the east side of the house. I planted this lilac about two years ago, and it’s just about dead. I’m torn about what to replace it with. Personally, I’d like to put a witch hazel or pagoda dogwood. However, Judy is yearning for a lilac, for that brief period of sweet lilac fragrance in Spring. There really isn’t enough sun for a lilac in this spot, but Judy is not one to be bound by cultural requirements. Actually, I’ve seen lilacs do all right in spots with much less than full sun. The new lilac should be some variety of common lilac, which I have read is better at coping with part shade.

3) In the same bed, I have to get rid of all the volunteer asters, goldenrods, and Joe Pye Weeds that I’ve planted. I thought I would be frugal and transplant all these volunteers to fill space as the lilac and red elderberry bushes there fill in. Unfortunately, the effect is excessively weedy. I feel bad about this, because this bed lies along the neighbors path to their backyard along the west side of their garage. So out with the big, rangy wildflowers and in with the low-growing, ground covering plants. My thought is to plant a mix of lady ferns, columbine, heuchera, solomon’s seal, and foamflower. I already have this bed edged with wild geranium, celandine poppy, and woodland phlox.

4) Finally, I want a new fountain/bird bath. For several years we’ve had a concrete bird bath with a removable top. The top has a little fountain that spurts about 4″, then flows into a depression suitable for bathing robins before continuing on and then flowing into the concrete basin. The top has fetching little concrete birds on it. The thing is, though, the top may be removable but it’s also damn heavy, so every time I clean the basin section I fear I’ll injure my back. What I want is to put my pump in one of those fake half barrels, then pile in a mix of cinder block and stones so that I can create a little waterfall, bathing area, and area of deeper water. Maybe I’ll put some emergent plants, like marsh marigold or Louisiana iris. This arrangement may be a little more complicated to take apart and clean, but it is less likely to injure my back. I also like that this would have more open water, which may attract damselflies, dragonflies, maybe even frogs.


2 Comments on “Spring 2012: To Do and To Buy”

  1. I hear you on the wildflowers/weeds. This year, at my daughter’s request, I planted bachelor’s buttons. I absolutely loved them as a flower, and I absolutely hated them in my garden. They ended up just looking weedy and messy. If I had a wide meadowish section, however, they would be perfect.

  2. I’ve never grown bachelors buttons. I think the lesson I drew from this is that to use big, rangy wildflowers you need to mass them, not just have them pop up here and there. Big wildflowers need more planning than tamer garden flowers to look good in a flower bed.

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