In the April 2019 issue of Fine Gardening Magazine, Editor Steve Aitken shared his thoughts on the significant moments in time that shape our evolution as gardeners. I had to chuckle at his comment that a true gardener would explain to a non-gardener that “The lawn is just the place you stand when looking at your plants.”
As a passionate plant person, I am often tempted by plants at the nursery. I’ll see a new perennial, tree or shrub and think to myself, “I have to have one of those.” This addiction of sorts explains why I continue to remove more lawn and add more gardens. Some of my friends think I’m crazed to add more beds to maintain in my 1.3 acre garden, but I find joy in the new plantings and feel the reward of the continually changing landscape is worth the effort.
To that end, this year I added a bed over 100 feet long which parallels a wall at the front of my property. On a slope, this new area has sections in shade, part shade and full sun and is well drained. The best part about developing this space into a garden is that I no longer have to mow on a hill, which was becoming harder and more dangerous the older I got. Sounds like a good reason to remove tons of sod, don’t you think?
I planted some favorites like Helleborus HONEYMOON® ‘New York Night’, Deutzia ‘Nikko’, Amsonia hubrichtii and Lonicera pileata ‘Moss Green’. I also added some new plants including Penstemon ‘Black Beard’, Lespedeza thunbergii ‘Gibraltar’ and Diervilla ‘Cool Splash’. I incorporated Pycnanthemum muticum, Agastache ‘Blue Fortune’ and Aster ‘October Skies’ to attract pollinators and Molinia ‘Skyracer’ as a ‘see through’ plant. Some wonderful nursery friends gave me unique specimens including Indigofera kirilowii and Hypericum x Blue Velvet™ and I’m saving space for a Cercis ‘Flame Thrower®’ which I am hoping will be available in 2020. Is that enough Latin for you? Are your eyes glazing over yet? How about if I stop my plant talk and share some photos of these beauties so you can see why I am so enthralled!
While the new bed is immature, I look forward to seeing the plants grow in the years to come. I promise to share my triumphs and my trials. After all, that’s what gardening is all about. We collaborate with Mother Nature and make adjustments as needed to achieve the desired aesthetic. Now like a true gardener, I will prepare the garden for winter and patiently wait for spring!
Congratulations! For plant fanatics like us, a new bed can bring great opportunity to try new plants. Solving your concern for mowing the slope is a great rationale to continue to indulge…lol. It’s also true that planting on the slope will offer an enhanced opportunity for great composition as viewed from the street side. It looks like you don’t use a edging product to define the lawn’s edge. That, of course, means more work to maintain the beautiful clean line. But it can be a supremely satisfying maintenance task, since those lines can really add finesse.
How do you determine the precise shape of your beds? Do its curves reflect an attempt to allow the lawn to have a distinctive, pleasing configuration? Or does it reflect the scale of shrubs or plantings you anticipate in the new bed?
Thanks for your support Eric. As another passionate plant person, I know you can understand my need for more plants! I find edging with the string trimmer therapeutic, so that’s what I use to keep a ‘clean’ edge. As for the shape of the bed, it was in part decided based on the slope I had to mow. A couple of underground boulders that peek above the surface like icebergs also played a role in defining the shape as I wanted to avoid having to mow around them. I tried to think of the negative space too (the lawn) and its shape. I wanted the contours to be pleasing to the eye and carry the visitor from one section of the garden to another. I tried to plan for the growth of plants when placing them, but you know how that goes – they don’t always read the book! I hope you find the bed pleasing visual – come see it sometime!