Friday, August 22, 2008

Flower Garden Update

My front flower beds have been mostly neglected for some months now. But this is a good thing, because it has given the more drought-tolerant plants a chance to show themselves. Ultimately, I want these beds to be stuffed with flowers that crowd out weeds and that don’t require much attention from me.

Holy alyssum batman! I thought these purple flowers had finished their display a month ago. They aren’t native, and they aren’t perennial, but they have filled this niche stunningly. If they decide to reseed themselves, I won’t complain.

The marigolds here surprised me here as well, because all spring they had limped along. These are my second-generation marigolds.

Also in this bed: some nasturtiums, which are in bloom but didn’t fare as well as I had hoped; one surprisingly vigorous parsley; and a bee-balm which is now fading, but bloomed beautifully. The plants that didn’t do so well here: a couple of lavenders and a Swiss chard, which are getting crowded out by the faster-growers; and a rhubarb, which wasn’t able to withstand the heat or dry conditions.

This bed hasn’t turned out as nicely, in part because I chose to plant interesting native grasses in it. The problem with the grasses is that they too closely resemble the clumps of grass making up the lawn around it. I need to add more flowers here next year.

Growing conditions in this bed are brutal. The alyssum fared well, as did that native purple flower, which I can’t remember the name of.

This bed is similarly exposed, but has deeper soil. Not everything that I have planted here has survived, but enough flowers have flourished that it is already looking like I envisioned it to look “someday”. For the most part the things I planted here have successfully kept the weeds crowded out.

Currently blooming and thriving here: yarrow, transplanted from the lawn; alyssum; obedient plant; alyssum; marigold; tick seed, which is native; and another native purple flower which I can’t remember the name of. There is also a shrimpy cone flower with one blossom; some pumpkin plants which aren’t thriving, but which keep producing big yellow flowers; daises and dill which have gone to seed; ground cherry, as an experiment; a small lilac; and a Swiss chard.

I love walking outside to look at these plants with Gabe every day.


Leah said...

What a fun blog! I just happened upon it today. Love the post about the monarch butterfly.

Michelle said...

Thanks leah! This blog has been a fun indoor continuation of gardening for Chris and I. Thanks for visiting!

marna said...

Love your gardens, they are really beginning to become well established! The purple plant looks like Liatris (Gayflower), but I can't see it too clearly.

Your Pumpkin flowers look just great! Did you know that they are delicious? If you pick them in the also morning while still open, you can put them in flour, then egg, and saute them lightly in oil with garlic in it. It is quite an Italian delicacy!. We used to do it with all kinds of squash flowers. For those unfamiliar with squash plants, you use only the ones without a beginning squash attached!

I have found it invaluable to find good ground covering plants. I have been using living mulch for years now, which has cut down on the amount of mulch I have to buy. I have found that my Alyssum reseeds itself plentifully each year, so that it is a good living mulch in any sunny garden. Other plants I use for living mulch include a variety of sedums, ivies, thymes, creeping Veronica, and Cranesbill Geranium, to name a few. Portulaca is a great annual covering that can reseed itself. It does best under the worst conditions, as it is a desert plant. It has reseeded itself for several years, then I have needed to replenish it with new plants every few years.

I was recently introduced to the concept of Permaculture, through the following book: "Gaia's Garden, by Toby Hemenway. It is making me rethink my gardens, and how to better use my resources. I am finding out lots of new ideas and ways to make them more sustainable and eco-friendly. Fascinating reading.
Know that there are plants here you can have as you continue to expand your gardens. I am so enjoying this cooler weather which makes garden clean up so much easier.

Michelle said...

Thanks for the pumpkin flower tip, Marna. I will have to lok up that book!