Some New Plants for a Difficult Bed
The Back Island Bed has never quite clicked. Lots of different plants have been tried in it. Some have worked, others have not. I suppose part of the problem is that the bed, which is in light shade most of the year, is infiltrated with feeder roots from the nearby Silver Maple.
Here are the main plants that have worked in this bed:
- Amsonia ‘Blue Ice’.
- Dwarf Goatsbeard (Aruncus aethusifolius).
- Lenten Rose (Helleborus orientalis).
- Yellow Coydalis (Corydalis lutea).
- Indian Pink (Spigelia marilandica).
As for the plants that haven’t worked, the less said the better.
A box of plants arrived from Prairie Nursery last week and I got them in the ground over the weekend. There were 2 species meant for the Back Island Bed.
First, Poke Milkweed (Asclepias exaltata). An interesting rather than a beautiful Milkweed, but shade tolerant and happy in moderately dry soil. Also, it adds some height to the bed, as all the plants listed above are pretty compact.
The Poke Milkweed is going to replace the American Spikenard (Aralia racemosa), which is now officially dead to me. It’s not technically dead, however, and is a bear to dig up, so I just intend to cut each stem at ground level until the roots starve.
This is my second try with Poke Milkweed – the first time I accidentally dug it out and killed it. It’s a late riser, like most Milkweeds, so this time I was careful to mark the location of each plant.
I also ordered American Bellflower (Campanula americana). This is a biennial that likes shade, another vertical plant with lovely blue bell-shaped flowers. With any luck, it will self-sow.
I’ve also ordered a bunch of bare root Indian Pink from American Meadows. I figured since this plant was already prospering, why not make a much bigger patch of it? Also, it blooms later than most woodland flowers, and reblooms sporadically into fall. The red tubular flowers, popular with hummers, are topped with a pointed yellow star.
Are you adding new plants to any shady beds in your garden?