Saturday, February 16, 2013

Local Heritage Garden 2: Seeds for a partial sun/shade garden

Snow has moved in to stay. The storm called Nemo laid down a foot that's stuck around, and we've had dustings several times since then, and cold. Cold that bloomed in icicles on the porch roof and frost on the old windows ...

and limned our early morning world in magic.

My mind has turned to summer. And so, for the first time, a couple of times this week, I delved into the world of online garden catalogs. Seeds. Glorious seeds for the garden.

I'm working on a plan for relatively small, established garden, outside the studio door, on the back of the house. It's more shady than I realized, getting good morning sun starting about 8 or 9, and then shaded by the house the entire afternoon. The dirt is black and friable, almost always moist, with a wilt in the dirt, that attacks certain plants at the stem.

The first fall I was here, in 2011, I put in daffodils, tulips, hyacinths and allium. There is a large patch of naturalized grape hyacinth in one corner, too. Here it is in spring, height of color:

And withered ... in the back of the garden (left hand, here) are old peonies that barely get one flower because of lack of sun.

In the winter of 2011, I put in poppy seeds, here, in June, you can see the poppy seedlings, about 6-8" high, coming up. I also planted zinnias and alyssum from seed. But considering that it is June, this garden is rather uninspiring ...

A  little later, without realizing how little sun the garden gets, I added black-eyed susans, coneflower and russian sage. 

By August, the zinnias had gone gigantico, dwarfing the perennials in the back, that struggled for lack of sun ... and all of August and September, there was the most magical display of zinnias in raspberry and green -- Renee's Gardens sells these varietals online and in stores. The butterflies loved them.

This past fall 2012, I added more hyacinths and allium, and last summer I let the poppies go to seed and  crunched up every seed head in the garden. I also let the zinnias go to seed and saved masses of seed heads to plant come spring.

I'll have to move all the perennials along the back of the garden that need more sun, so out again will come the black-eyed susans, the coneflower, the russian sage and peonies. I'll also take out the one experimental lavender bush I put in the front that didn't do well.

What I need are some cottage flowers that tolerate some shade, come up over bulbs (so I can continue to add bulbs every year without disturbing perennials), grow tall behind the zinnias, and bloom before the zinnias start, in May and June. So, after a lot of digging around online this week, I ordered the following late last night:

Tall for the back:

Hollyhocks, dark purple and apricot, they're biennials, so they won't bloom this year
Cleomes, rose and white
Snapdragons, very tall dusky pink ones
And a mix of foxglove, some that if I start early indoors will bloom the first year

Mid-sized, for the middle:

Bells of Ireland, something I've never heard of but looks like a green foxglove
Columbine, for late spring color in the next few years
More snapdragons

Dwarf, for the front:

and Anemone

I also ordered several varieties of sweet peas to train up over the falling-down bench on the edge of the patio that is more ornamental than used.

Let fly snow while ye may.

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