Don't be fooled. Inside this thin coating of sweetness is a fiery core of total insanity.

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Post Where I Wonder If I've Completely Lost My Mind....

I really, really hope I'm not the only gardener who does this -- strives to achieve a certain effect in the garden, only to decide once it's been achieved to scrap it all and start over with something else.

Now that I've made some good progress on the front garden, and the fall rains have returned to water everything in, I've started working on the back. I'm not done in the front, but I've got a lot of changes I want to make all over both the front and back gardens, so I've got a lot of work to do. And I want to get it all done right now, in the fall, between the raindrops, so that anything that gets moved has a good part of fall and winter to get re-established (then maybe I'll start doing some housework...).

In the last three years I've worked hard to put together an area of self-sowing, en masse Columbines in the back garden. They flowered very prettily this spring.

But after they flowered I cut them back, and the area became just a jumbled mass of Columbine foliage, which was looking quite ratty and powdery-mildewed.

So --  I've yanked them out, roots and all.

I have all kinds of interesting foliage plants for shade that I'm putting in here instead.

It's a shady area under some Douglas firs, and when we first moved in, I thought it would be a perfect spot for Columbines. It is. But I also planted some other shade-lovers there -- ferns, Hepaticas, Jack-in-the-pulpit, Heucheras, Pulmonaria, a mini Hosta  -- and over the past three years those Columbines took over and were crowding everything else in there.

This bright caramelly Heuchera loves the part shade, but was completely overtaken by Columbines

Hepatica foliage until recently completely hidden under the Columbines

Disporopsis will make a nice contrast with the Hepatica and Heuchera foliage

Autumn fern

Farfugium japonicum 'Aureo-maculata'/Leopard Plant
I also removed and divided some Pulmonaria, Heucherella, Tiarella, and Heuchera, and potted them up to be redistributed eventually in the bed.

And all summer whenever I went shopping at the nursery, or explored a new one, I bought more shade-loving stuff to put in there too.

I bought some new ferns at Fronderosa back in August, and nursed them in the pot ghetto.

Dryopteris filix-mas 'Fluctuosa/Dwarf Crested Male Fern

Polystichum neolobatum 'Alpine Form'/Asian Saber or Long-Eared Holly fern

Polystichum setiferum 'Congestum cristatum'/Congested Crested Soft Shield Fern

Asplenium scolopendrium 'Cristatum'/Crested Hart's Tongue Fern

Hosta 'Fire and Ice'
There's more besides the classic Hosta/Heuchera/fern combo that borders on cliche in shade gardens.

Cyclamen hederifolium

Heuchera 'Lime Marmalade' and Carex morrowii 'Aureo-marginata', which I'm hoping will bring out the golden dots in the Leopard plant, as well as the row of now-dormant Dicentra 'Gold Heart' behind them

I'm hoping this variegated Petasites and Acanthus mollis 'Hollard's Gold' will also set off the Gold Heart Dicentras

Impatiens omeiana

Saxifraga fortunei and Bletilla striata 'Big Bob'

Am I just a little bit crazy? I guess everyone who fanatically engages in a hobby is. But to put so much work into establishing a patch of Columbines, only to yank it all out?

Ah well -- given how prolifically and promiscuously Columbines self-sow, I have a feeling they'll never really be completely gone. I'll have to keep on top of things if I don't want all the new foliage plants to be swamped by sweet, frilly flowers.