Although I redid the bed in the back garden along the fence just a couple of years ago, I realized last summer that when I redid it, I put full sun perennials in it, mistakenly thinking that the bed got more sun than it really does. Last fall, I bought a few plants that were more appropriate to the back garden's semi-shade, planning to redo it then, but ran out of energy and interest. The end of gardening season, after the first frost, often makes me depressed and lethargic. I used to associate that depression with the oncoming holiday season, but Loree at Danger Garden pointed out that it also coincides with the end of the gardening season, a brilliant insight that had never occurred to me before.
Anyway, I finally took a stab at pulling out all those full sun perennials -- Echinacea, Liatris, Coreopsis, Penstemon, Veronicastrum, Aster -- that did nothing but grow tall and weak and then flop all over each other. When they flopped, they also covered up the four Cardiocrinums growing in that bed. I realized that I wanted to make the Cardiocrinums and Meconopsis, which are growing well there and are much better suited to the semi-shady conditions, the focus of that bed. And I decided to augment them by buying more, which I did this spring. Those sun-lovers will be much happier in the front garden, in the same bed with the new Magnolia macrophylla, written about here in this recent post. The bed also had a tall vine maple (one of three growing in my garden), too close to the front and superfluous. Out it came.
I fell in love with the fall colors of Hydrangea flowers last fall, and realized that Hydrangeas would make a much better backdrop companion for those shade-liking perennials. The bed was also home to one of my three vine maples, and so I decided to take that out too, and replace it with a smaller 'Forest Pansy' Redbud (smaller than the very tall one growing in my front garden). Smaller is good in this case, because it will put the Redbud's dark purple leaves and bright pink flowers right at eye level.
|Space cleared out behind the Cardiocrinums
To make even more space, I decided to thin out the enormous clump of limbs on the native Filbert (Corylus) in that bed, one of the few shrubs that remains from the previous owners (the squirrels love it).
|Limbed-up native Filbert/Corylus
|'Forest Pansy' Redbud, Veratrum nigrum and Hydrangea 'Blue Cassel' waiting to be placed
|Hydrangea 'Cityline Paris,' Hydrangea 'Endless Summer,' Stachyurus praecox 'Magpie' and Pernettya rubra waiting to be placed in the bed
|Perennials in waiting -- Meconopsis 'Lingholm,' Veratrum californicum, two Cardicrinum giganteum, Aconitum cammarum 'Stainless Steel,' and Aconitum 'Tall Blue'
|'Forest Pansy' foliage
|A pile of Corylus limbs waiting to be cut up and put in the yard waste bin
|That same pile a couple of days later, after going at it with bypass pruners, loppers and a bow saw
|Think the yard waste bin is full?
|You bet it is!
The bed has also been slowly filling up with Mahonia nervosa, probably bird-planted. I pulled out several of those as well, and potted them up.
|Mahonia nervosa in a variety of sizes, dug from the bed to make more room
|The After photo, with the spaces filled
|'Forest Pansy' Redbud and Hydrangea Cityline Paris
|The spindly branches of Hydrangea aspera 'Plum Passion,' moved from a bed in the front garden and replanted under the Filbert, with Hydrangea 'Pistachio' in front
|Stachyurus praecox 'Magpie,' given a large space, because according to what I've read online, it could get 8 to 12 feet high and wide
|Two newly planted Meconopsis 'Lingholm' with the beginning bloom stalk of a Cardicrinum
|More newly planted Meconopsis 'Lingholm'
|'Lingholm' has the coolest orange hairs all over the leaves
|The native vine maple that came out to make room for the redbud is now living in a pot, and not the happiest camper
|It has lovely pleated leaves, but is looking decidedly droopy
An area of that bed just a little further to the left is in need of a makeover too, but one thing at a time (actually with me, it's never one thing at a time, it's all the things all the time).
|I'd like to move those lady ferns into deeper shade, and pull out the Panicum, Aster 'Prince,' daylily and Tradescantia that would probably prefer more sun
|This little gravel path that goes up into the deep shade of the northeast corner of the garden needs to be reclaimed from the Corydalis lutea, Dicentra formosa, Allium cernuum, and Sisyrinchium californicum that are taking over
And now, that's it for big makeovers this spring. Although the rest of that bed that runs along the back fence could use re-doing as well, I think I'm going to leave that for the fall. I'm finally starting to run out of steam (as well as places to put some of the plants).