Back And Sides
Most of the horticultural drama around here is in the front garden. But we shouldn’t forget that on either side of the house there are narrow strips within our property lines. And then there’s the back garden. Let’s take a look at what’s going on in those relatively neglected areas.
The east side of the house has my biggest and best concentration of Wild Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis), especially where the East Side Bed meets the Front Foundation Bed. Right now they are at peak bloom.
Columbine flowers remind me either of chandeliers or of a whole host of skydivers descending to earth in red and yellow parachutes.
It’s a shame that this part of the garden doesn’t get more attention. You don’t pass through on the way to anywhere – you only see it if you make a deliberate point of visiting.
OK, now let’s head over to the west side of the house. On the way we’ll pass a spot where at this time of year you’ll see a combination of Spanish Bluebells (Hyacinthoides hispanica), Ostrich Ferns (Matteuccia struthiopteris), and Wild Columbine. I really should have planted the Bluebells closer to the front of the border.
We’ll also pass a tuteur planted with two kinds Clematis, including ‘Guernsey Cream’, which was planted just last fall. Though less than 3 feet tall, it’s the first Clematis to bloom this year. It’s supposed to grow 6-8 feet, but I suppose that will come with time.
The route to the Back Garden lies along the shady west side of the house. It’s planted with Bleeding Heart (Lamprocapnos spectabilis), Great Merrybells (Uvularia grandiflora – no longer blooming), Lady Ferns (Athyrium filix-femina), Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense), and ‘Annabelle’ Hydrangeas (Hydrangea arborescens).
Click this link if you want to know why I used to call Athyrium filix-femina the Cat Lady Fern.
OK, here we are at the entrance to the Back Garden.
There’s another patch of ‘Purple Sensation’ Alliums. I’m surprised that it has prospered and multiplied in the dappled shade.
There’s also a Bluestar cultivar called ‘Blue Ice’. Not to be confused with another cultivar called ‘Ice Blue’, which is a Clematis.
‘Blue Ice’ flowers are a bit darker than those of the straight species Amsonia tabernaemontana, and the petals are not as elongated.
I didn’t get our little fountain-birdbath set up this year until the middle of May, which is late for me.
Last fall I tried planting Common Camas (Camassia quamash) for the first time. I placed the bulbs in a concrete container (it used to be a birdbath) with no protection to speak of. Happily, most of them made it through the winter. Common Camas is supposed to be pretty tolerant of wet soils.
I filled in with some white Nicotiana, but the container does not look as full as I had wanted. I may add a few more bulbs in the fall, or I could wait for them to multiply.
Are there parts of your garden that you feel aren’t visited enough?
I love clematis! Growing up, we had deep purple ones (I don’t know the variety) growing up onto the deck and spilling over. Our efforts to train them to the banister didn’t work, so they just sort of covered a portion of the deck floor. They were really beautiful, even if they weren’t great for the deck itself. Your garden is amazing!!
Thanks. We have some purple Clematis jackmanii that normally flowers in June.
Narrow sideyards are often too narrow to do anything with. A home that I lived in a long time ago had bedrooms facing the front and rear, with sidelight windows into the sideyard. They were easily changed out for doors that open into small atriums for the two bedrooms on that side of the home. It works out nicely.
We have enough space on either side to do something nice – though I admit to annexing a portion of the neighbor’s lawn. They haven’t complained yet.
Everything looks so lush and lovely, Jason. Love your large stand of wild columbines!
Thanks. They’re definitely one of my favorite June flowers.
Oh, lovely, whether or not they are visited. Wonderful description of columbines. Such an elegant little flower.
Elegant and improbable when you think about it.
Here its only June 1st and your garden looks GREAT! Well done.
You definitely don’t show enough of your back garden on your blog. I want to see more of it!
I’ll try to remember to do that.
Lovely! I am jealous of your amazing stand of Ostrich Ferns. I’ve been warned not to put them in the ground here, lest they take over the world. Have you had to fight them?
Oh, yes. And I have the scars to prove it. You have to fight them to keep them under control.
Love it all, I’m so envious of your alliums, I wish I could grow them like that. My clematis Guernsey Cream is now up to 6ft in its 3rd year and still growing, I’m sure yours will catch up.
Thanks for the encouragement.
On garden visits, I often find the narrow pathways between houses to be the most engaging parts of the garden. Alas, no narrow spaces here.
Some gardeners do amazing things with narrow side yards.
Your gardens look to be doing very well. I can tell that you spend time on them!
There are those who say too much time, but thanks.
Your garden !ooks great. I am a big fan of columbine and fern.
Your allies are fabulous! I can’t keep them from one year to the next.
That’s too bad, but obviously you have so many other plants that thrive for you.
You have the right conditions for Clematis, lucky you! Could you add a seat or something to make you visit these dots more.
Hello Jason, those aquilegia look lovely, I miss having them in my garden (one day, though). I saw Guernsey Cream Clematis when we were at the Garden Centre but because I have a couple of other clematis that look similar, I wan’t allowed to buy it (it’s not fair, I know). I looks like you have a errant sycamore growing among your alliums too?
It wouldn’t be a sycamore, more likely a maple. I’ll have to go look for it. Either way, its days are numbered.
It is a shame that the side gardens are not ventured into that often – they look lovely. I wouldn’t mind setting up a chair in that grassy bit in the east garden border & do a bit of reading (a gardening magazine, of course!).
The grassy bit belongs to the neighbors, but they may not mind.
I love your native Aqueligia canadensis. Some might call it an alien invader over here – but in fact here it in York it is quite difficult to grow
I love your shuttlecock fern. Mine had been underwater for three months this wet Winter but has loved it and is really luxuriant now
I didn’t know that our Wild Columbine was invasive in parts of the UK. Also didn’t know that you Shuttlecock was another name for Ostrich Fern. Yes, they do like moisture.
The south side of my house is visited only when I drive the mower through that area to get from front to back (and back again). I did spend some time there today, yanking thistle and such. There was a huge clump of yellow sweet clover, too – where did that come from? And why only one?
Side yards are full of mysteries – they do things while we are not watching.
I love the wild columbines – they look awsome.
You have the most beautiful Clematis. Yes, I’m jealous. I get a couple of blooms and that is it. Now – any advice on Columbine? I was just gifted with several plants.
Part shade and plenty of moisture.
Jason, I love your photo of ferns and birdbath. I also love Spanish Bluebells and Wild Columbine they are amazing, My aquilegia didn’t start to bloom yet.
Wild Columbine is one of my favorite spring flowers.
A lovely tour. The columbine is just lovely, it’s popping up everywhere around here. I do like your birdbath, bridge and crazy paving path.xxx
Popping up everywhere is part of the charm of columbines.
There is much more to look at in your unvisited area than in mine. The North side of my house is the least looked at by me. They only ones that see it are my neighbors. They might like it if I kept the weeds out a little better. The river of Columbine looks lovely. Those rascals can take over.
They will spread, but they play whackamole with me – they take over an area, disappear, and then pop up somewhere else.
Such a beauty! Amazing photography. Keep Glittering