A sad little Border

When we first moved here one of the priorities (among many others!) was to try and downplay the bright white vinyl fences which dominated either side of the yard.  Vinyl has its place, but to me a 6ft solid white wall just screams FENCE HERE! and I’d rather have a calmer yard.  So I started to screen.white vinyl privacy fence

For some reason I wanted a red garden in this spot, so I planted the closest thing I had which were reddish leaved and could possibly cover the fence, those being tall cannas and the ‘coppertina’ ninebark.  (The scarecrow of a plant toward the left is a seven sons tree  -Heptacodium miconioides- more on that later).  Over the last four years its become a dumping ground of red plants which refuse to flourish and other plants which needed homes.  This is what my “red” garden looks like today.rudbeckia and ninebarkThe first thing you might notice is the mess.  The second thing might be the lack of red.  I plan on working on both of these in the somewhat near future, but for now the stupid leaking preformed pond is just hanging over my head.  It disgusts me, so what better to do than ignore it and hope it learns its lesson.weedy flower bedWhile I wait for the pond to heal itself, the kids have take advantage of the neglect and frequently throw things in, stir the water, and use it to add magic to whatever messy dirt project they have going on.  It’s not helping but at least its motivated me to pull the pond shell out and set it aside until I can get myself moving.
My inspiration may have arrived.  Last fall while scrambling to find homes for a number of random seedling, I stuck in what I thought was a species foxglove (with yellow flowers) into the ‘used to be’ red border.  Unlike many of the other plants here, these seedlings did well, and to my surprise put out a bloom this week.  Look at what it turned out to be!lobelia cardinalis

Cardinal flower (lobelia cardinalis)!  I’ve been trying for years to get a few going but the seed is like dust and my aftercare just doesn’t cut it.  This random mix up of seed has reminded me of my dream to have a red garden and refocused my vision!….. not really…. but how can I deny this brightest red of native wildflowers?  It’s time to get moving, before the golden rudbeckia ‘goldsturm’ take over. (btw none of these were planted, they all invited themselves in)rudbeckia and gold hostaTwo things I should start with.  The first is to add more dark leaved plants.  Ideally a dark hedge along the fence would be a nice backdrop, but I can’t think of anything better than the struggling variegated privet which is there now.  A darker background seems to really highlight the red and gold.rudbeckia, phlox, and ninebark

So the plan is to fix the pond, remove a few of the pinks and golds, think of a better background, and do some soil improvement/replanting so the red flowers already there really reach their potential….. in a spot with fewer washed out lavender flowers…red phlox and nora leigh

This blurry picture is a new-for-me annual/biennial/perennial which might have a place in the revamped border.  It’s standing cypress (Ipomopsis rubra), a southeastern native perennial which will likely be an annual here.  This looks like a perfect hummingbird plant and of course I love the color and the fluffy leaves.  I hope it reseeds, but if not there may be a few leftover seeds just in case.

Am I the last person to hear about this plant?  I’ve been looking for it for a couple years but had some trouble finding it.  Maybe now that it’s here it will stick around.Ipomopsis rubra


The garden here always goes through a bit of a slump once the tulips begin to fade.  The iris haven’t kicked in yet and most of the late spring flowers aren’t doing a whole lot.  Bleeding hearts, columbine, and oriental poppies would all probably help out, but camassia is what looks the best right now.  I have two types, Camassia ‘Caerulea’ and ‘Blue Danube’.  One is supposed to have a rich lavender color and the other a dark blue…. but I can’t tell a difference between them.  One might be a few inches shorter but that could be soil or location or whatever.camassia 'blue danube'The yellow iris behind is ‘Elsa Sass’, a historic iris from 1939. It blooms early for me, but maybe that’s from being close to the house.

camassia 'Caerulea'Camassias are a bulb native to Northwestern North America and while I grow them in regular garden soil, they’re supposed to tolerate wet soils and clay soils.  Apparently they’re edible too, but I’ll pass for now.  This is the other clump, Camassia ‘Caerulea’.  I like both types well enough, blue is always welcome and they’ve never required any special care, but for me they don’t seem to bloom very long.  Just over a week seems about average, I’d much rather they held out for at least two.