Planning the Garden
Around the middle of May, I have a pretty good idea of what is alive and what is dead, so this is when I decide what plants to add to the garden. I used to plan and plan and dream and scheme, but after fourteen years, my garden is pretty well laid out with its zones, and in most areas there really isn't room for more plants. Still, there are several "blank" areas that need filling. It is still cool enough now to do a quick transplant of a small plant, so I first check to see if plants are crowding each other out and move the small ones to more space. This also has the advantage of saving money.
Next, I hunt around for freebies and see if I have room for that particular plant. Finally, I track down those plants I absolutely must have, like basil and cherry tomatoes, and try to resist acquiring something I have never grown before, to try it, "just because".
My garden consists almost entirely of perennials. Why? Because they usually stay put, and don't re-seed all over the place. This makes my gardening life easier - I have less weeding to do. I don't have a spectacular bloom of masses of flowers, but I have an interesting mixture of different foliage textures which hang around for most of the growing season, with a little bit of color here and there from the plants when they do bloom.
Plant a Native
I'm going to join The Green Man on the soapbox and encourage people to consider planting more native plants. I have a garden consisting of a mixture of both native and non-native plants; however, as I acquire new plants, I'm planting more natives. One of my favorites that I planted a few years ago is Sanguinaria canadensis, commonly called "Bloodroot". It has unusually shaped leaves, and it is one of the earlier plants to bloom in Spring, sending forth bright sunny white flowers before the leaves. It does well in a part-shade and moderately moist location, in improved soil. It spreads slowly, staying pretty much in the same area where it was planted. It can spread by re-seeding, but not rapidly, and if you have a small patch of it, you can cut off the seed pods. In a mixed garden, it works well with variegated hosta, ferns, and Jack-in-the-pulpits in a woodland-like setting.
Come and Get 'Em
I have had the pleasure of growing Rudbeckia triloba, "Three-lobed Coneflower", named because of the lobed leaves. It has smaller flowers with shorter petals than the Black-Eyed Susan (R. hirta), and grows a little taller. However, it produces lots of sunny flowers, and is really quite a nice plant. It reseeds itself easily, and is a good plant for those who want a garden more like a wildflower meadow. This would make a nice BayScaping plant, too.
Unfortunately, I don't have the space for a wildflower meadow, and I don't have much sun. I do have numerous seedlings of R. triloba popping up in my yard - let me know asap if you want them, and you can come over with pots and soil and dig them up before I compost them.
© Iris H. Mars, 2003.