The small island garden that separates the two halves of my driveway at the street end is, as I said in my last post, a mass of weeds with some very good perennials dotted here and there. The first step in renovating this bed is to rescue the perennials.
Where are the good plants? They’re shown below. (Unfortunately, the harsh winter has killed at least one variety I was planning to save, the lovely yellow-flowered, variegated-leaved heliopsis ‘Loraine Sunshine.’)
- Lycoris squamigera – a variety of “Surprise Lily.” These haven’t bloomed for the last couple of years, so they needed to be taken out and divided anyway. They won’t go back into this bed because the flowers are utterly the wrong color (pink).
- Thuja ‘Teddy Bear,’ a dwarf arborvitae. It’s in bad shape because I ran over half of it the winter before last. It should be a lovely little globe. This didn’t come out, but it really should be moved later because it’s too close to the driveway.
- Chamaecyparis ‘Gold Thread,’ I think. This didn’t come out, either, but also needs to be moved later.
- Yellow daylilies. I don’t know whether they are Stella d’Oros or not, so they will wait in pots until they bloom. If they are Stellas, I won’t replant them at all. If they are the lemon yellow variety (some plants were), they’ll stay in this garden.
- Iris ‘Immortality,’ a (supposedly) reblooming white tall bearded iris. Last year I had one flower just 6” tall. It was bizarre. When these plants (I had two) were dug out, they divided up into about 6 plants.
- Daylily ‘Mighty Chestnut.’ I have 3 of these and they are among my finest plants. Not visible here is the ‘Paprika’ yarrow, which was also removed and saved, though it won’t go back into this bed.
- Barely visible variegated sedum. This was taken out and potted.
- The weeping pussy willow, salix caprea ‘Pendula.’ Obviously this young tree wasn’t removed, nor was the blue clematis durandii that grows near its feet that I plan to train into the little tree each year. I will have to hand weed this area.
- This is a trash tree sitting on an enormous anthill. The arborists are going to kill it.
- This area contains coreopsis ‘Moonbeam’ (not visible yet). Although it’s a lovely plant, I’m going to get rid of it because it spreads too rapidly.
There is also a hardy hibiscus in this bed, but it comes up extremely late, so I won’t know for awhile whether it has survived or not. If it has, it will come out and be replanted in a more appropriate area, as it is a deep wine red that just doesn’t go with my color scheme of orange, blue, white and yellow.
Nothing good will grow in the area in front of the mailbox – only a few tough weeds make it there. I don’t know how deep it goes – if it’s deep enough, I’ll excavate the dusty soil and fill it in with compost.
And if you still don’t believe me about the bed being choked by weeds, here’s a close up. The excavated area in the center is the anthill, though the ants aren’t really visible.
Joey Gets to Work
My son Joey knows nothing at all about gardening, but he’s a big, strong young man who can wield a mean shovel. All I really had to do was point out what was to be removed, though I did a little digging myself. The job went much faster than I had anticipated. He started with the lycoris and just kept going, and going, and going. Soon we had huge clumps sitting on the driveway. Eventually he and I potted them and put them beside the house where they would get only morning sunlight.
(Then we had to move all the pots closer to the front of the house because my hose wasn’t long enough to water them where they were!)
I couldn’t believe how short a time all this took – I thought we’d be working in this one bed all day, but Joey was finished in less than 3 hours. We sprayed all the weeds and weedy grass with homemade weed killer (1/4 cup salt, as much vinegar as the spray bottle would hold, and a squirt of Dawn dishwashing liquid), and then I had to find more work for him to do because I hadn’t planned ahead.
But the first step in reconstructing the island bed was complete!
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