A New Perennial Garden

perennial garden
Our new perennial bed.

Fixing an eyesore

For a while, I subscribed to a pretty narrow gardening plan: if I can’t eat it, I won’t grow it. I dove into all things edible; vegetables, fruit, nuts, herbs and even the occasional flower. I planted trees for shade, and cut the grass because it was there. While that strategy allowed plenty of opportunity to get outside and learn how plants work, it also gave us a landscape that was…we’ll just say less interesting than it could be. At some point, perennials began to sneak into my consciousness.

It may have been the in the process of weeding, when I would pull out a plant with an interesting structure or beautiful flower and toss it on the compost pile.  Or my desire to improve production by attracting pollinators.  Or my growing interest in native plants.  Most likely a combination of these factors, as well as Debbie’s subtle prodding to plant pretty things, that began my real interest in perennials. Initially, I planted them among shrubs where they would eliminate mowing in tight spots while adding a bit of color or interest. Gradually, they have found their own spaces in the yard.  This weekend, they just acquired another bed.

perennial garden
Not much to look at right now, but next summer it will be glorious.

We had a spot at the end of the house near the driveway that would have been an eyesore, had we really paid much attention to it.  I stored my canoe and the trash cans there, and we passed through on the way to the backyard. This summer we began to think about what to do with the spot. Our neighbor roughed it up pretty bad while “fixing” a drainage problem, and left a couple of thousand square feet of bare dirt and rocks when it was over.

We started looking around the yard for options: there were iris rhizomes that needed to be divided, daffodils that could be reclaimed from the woods behind the house, and a clump of daylilies and sedum that were being smothered by a giant baptisia.  We were on to something! A trip to the local big box store brought clearance priced coneflowers, speedwell, coral bells, and ferns into the mix.  Then from the local garden center, cranesbill and lantana. Added to the mix were lavender and Russian sage, and we were ready to go.

By scavenging and buying on clearance, we kept the cost fairly low.  Using the existing plants as a guide, the color palate came to life (lavender/blue, pink and yellow).  There is a succession of color throughout the growing season, and several selections will give season-long blooms.  We’re also excited to see the butterflies and bees that will be attracted to the new perennial garden.  While there are still opportunities to add details, we were able to patch together a nice perennial garden that will really take off next year!

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