about those new beds…

i have this very troublesome area under a weird patch of trees. it’s sort of open shade, but kind of full shade, and very occasionally gets partial sunlight.  it’s moist, i guess.  definitely not dry or sandy.

it really is a perfect spot for some woodland wildflowers, but i’d been struggling with the appropriate plant mix for over a year. last year, it was a repository for some cool, half-baked thoughts (purple palace heucheras, primroses, a very rare and awesome epimedium called ‘the giant’) but not a lot of follow-through or execution.

i’d developed, sort of accidentally-on-purpose, a purple and yellow color scheme, and to this i added a ‘molly the witch’ shade-tolerant peony (yellow), and a ‘kiki’s broom’ magnolia (purple).  and i got some of my drive from this awesome combo of actea simplex and japanese forest grass:


okay, so here’s the moodboard:


and here’s the cut-and-paste version from my design notebook:


i’m toying with the idea of trying some terrestrial orchids, but i am not going to order any yet.  i’d rather wait until my local native nursery opens, and talk to them about potential easy(ish)-to-grow varieties for an orchid novice.

‘woodland wildflower garden’ design from perennial combinations by c. colston burrell

and then, finally, comes the design breakthrough – and i had it all along. this past weekend i was perusing my favorite garden design book and found the inspiration sketch right there on page 353. it’s the ‘woodland wildflower garden’, which not only fits the space perfectly but complements what i have, perhaps with some slight nudging around of already-planted specimens.

1 – originally slated as a white baneberry, i found this cool terrestrial orchid (not a lady’s-slipper) from plant delights and added it to my birthday order. the color fits perfectly and it has a reputation for being easier to grow than its native american counterpart.


2 – bloodroot, as directed, but the blush form, to keep the color scheme more homogenous and pleasing. i splurged on this little guy from lazy s.




3 – subbing out the virginia bluebells – i have a better spot for them – and bringing in this super-cute variegated form of merry bells (Uvularia perfoliata ‘Jingle Bells’, also from plant delights, also part of the birthday bash)




4- celandine poppy, and i’m not going to mess with a classic. been keen to try this one out since i read margaret roach’s raves about it on the a way to garden blog.


polystichum-acrostichoides1-i-0295-s-62132-r-01   Athyrium niponicum 'Lemon Cream' (Lemon Cream Japanese Painted Fern)   burgundy lace japanese painted fern

5 – i’m going to go with a combo of ferns here, to stay true to the color scheme but also to the intent of the design. so i’m sticking with the christmas fern suggested by the author, but added some color with two painted ferns.



6 – ‘home fires’ creeping phlox (phlox stolonifera), as directed but with a color change.



7 – woodland phlox.  i LOVE woodland phlox.  it’s so delicate-looking, and the flowers are tiny and star-shaped.  what is not to love?




8 – trilliums, definitely part of the birthday splurge. these were a hefty price, but they are seedlings, so that means that i can nudge them toward multiplying and giving me many more of my very own.




9 – hello, gorgeous! a chinese mayapple too interesting to refuse swaps out for the umbrella plant originally intended. i think it is going to be a star.


garden diary: 11/12/13 march 2016



spotted:  wood frogs, daffodils (DAFFODILS ALREADY?!), grape hyacinth, cherry buds, monarda foliage, yarrow foliage, witchhazels in bloom (FINALLY)


also, my first winter sowing results: some annuals in my large box of “bee-friendly” plants for the willow bed, and breadseed poppies.

i cut and prepped three new areas for flower beds, meaning, i laid out their approximate shape and size with either a garden hose or a 100-foot extension cord, then edged around it with my old half-moon edger.  then i took a rest, because that was tiring.


then, fortified by hot pockets and diet coke, i sallied forth again into the yard and prepared the cut areas for solarization.  this year, for a change, i actually splurged and bought several rolls of thick black plastic for the purpose.  that way, i can cover the to-be-planted areas and smother the grass underneath without any herbicides or other sprays.  depending on what is ready to be planted when, i will either cut through the plastic where appropriate or pull it off and mulch around the plantings.  i am anticipating that this year the plastic will stay on for most, if not all, of the summer, so that the new bits can settle in without too much competition.  then next year i can mulch and build up the beds.

in fact, while doing this i finally had an epiphany on a tough shady area i’ve been battling for a few years…

…so of course i had to order more plants to fill the aforementioned shady area.

garden diary: 6 march 2016

today i potted up an ambitious bare root order of bottlebrush buckeye (Aesculus parviflora) from a new online supplier i’ve been trying.  earlier this winter, on my never-ending quest to collect ALL THE MILKWEEDS, i finally found a place that had one of my most elusive quarries (but more on that another time).  then, seemingly by magic, they recently had an amazing sale on bare root shrubs.

historically i have terrible luck with bare root shrubs, but the price was so good that even with a 50% failure rate i would still come out ahead of ordering from one of the larger, specialized nurseries – and even farther ahead of waiting until spring and heading out to catskill native nursery, so i took the plunge and ordered 15.

they came, and they are beautiful, healthy plants, and not sealed up in plastic bags with some peat moss (which is how i’ve always gotten bare roots before, especially from prairie moon nursery), but in a nice damp bag with proper root systems.  i feel cautiously optimistic.


someday, my pretties….someday