Plant List For Our Front Island Bed
Sunday night I drove from Chicago to Springfield, about 200 miles heading south, and it snowed most of the way. At home we’ve got a number of Daffodils that have been on the verge of opening for days and days, but they’re wisely keeping their buds shut until a reasonable degree of warmth is achieved.
So I’ve decided to ignore what’s going on in my garden and write a plant list instead. There’s something so comforting about a list of plants. Today I want to share a list of the plants currently in our Front Island Bed.
The Front Island Bed sits between the Sidewalk Border and the Front Foundation Planting. The soil is dark and rich, with plenty of moisture and organic content.
Going through last year’s photographs for this post, two things became clear. First of all, this is a late season planting. There were hardly any pictures taken of the Front Island Bed before July.
Secondly, this is a bed viewed mainly from the sidewalk, as in the picture above. You can only see over the tops of the ‘Raspberry Wine’ Bee Balm (Monarda didyma) and other plants that are growing in the Sidewalk Border. And so the Front Island Bed is mainly about 2 kinds of plants: tall and very tall.
If you want to see the shorter plants growing along the front of this bed, you have to walk into the front garden, along the grassy paths that separate the plantings. The Front Island Bed is to the left of the path above, the Driveway Border to the right.
Having said all that, let’s get on with the plant list.
Cup Plant (Silphium perfoliatum). A friendly giant of a plant with yellow daisy flowers. Featured in the first photo above. Some find it aggressive, but for me it hasn’t been difficult to control.
Sweet Joe Pye Weed (Eutrochium purpureum). If I could start over, I would have gone with E. maculatum, a Joe Pye with stronger color. Sweet Joe Pye Weed tends to have a washed-out look. Not a bad plant, though.
New England Aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae). I grow the straight species, in part because I like the variation in flower color – blue, purple, pink. You can see how they were able to develop so many cultivars. My only complaint is that it tends to get rather sprawling, even after I cut it back in May. I know I can cut it back a second time, but the idea makes me nervous.
Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata). Usually called Red or Rose Milkweed in catalogs, because Swamp sounds so unattractive. A good plant for Monarch butterflies, like all the Milkweeds.
Ohio Spiderwort (Tradescantia ohiensis). One of the few plants in this bed that blooms before July. Nice blue flowers that close at night.
Phlox ‘David’ (Phlox paniculata). Another guest I thought I had removed, but it had other ideas. If you can’t evict them, enjoy them.
Brown-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia triloba). A tall Rudbeckia with masses of little golden flowers with black centers. Disappears only to pop up again close by.
White Turtlehead (Chelone glabra). I planted this last spring and got the flowers above in early fall. Hoping that it takes root and thrives. For some reason it’s harder to find than the pink-flowered species, C. lyonii.
Bee Balm ‘Purple Rooster’ (Monarda didyma). Excellent disease resistance, and a nice medium height.
Palm Sedge (Carex muskingumensis). Robust sedge with a moderately fine texture. It’s in the first picture above – I use it at the front of the bed.
Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum). Also in the first picture. A North American hardy Geranium – low-growing, mounded, lavender flowers in spring.
Geranium ‘Rozanne’. Very long-blooming. What I really like about it in this bed is that it’s stems scramble up through taller plants nearby.
Bluestem Goldenrod (Solidago caesia). A shorter goldenrod with arching stems that doesn’t mind a bit of shade.
While working on this post I began to think that maybe this bed needs some more work so that it has more to offer in spring. I also wondered if I should just get rid of all the shorter plants that can only be seen if people walk into the front garden. But then I thought – why should every planting have something to offer in every season? Let the other borders carry the load in spring – they do so reasonably well.
And why not have some shorter plants that are hidden from the sidewalk? Give people a reason to come closer and look around.
Anyhow, this post has gone on much longer than I intended. But I don’t feel so garden-deprived now. How about you?