08 July 2010

weediness by the road

I've been considering the large roughly oval flower bed that surrounds an old maple down near the road. In the spring it's filled with daffodils, and in years past we've been more or less successful planting zinnias, marigolds, and cushion mums (expensive!) in it to provide some summer and fall color. The problem is that because the bed is much larger than it looks, it can easily hold 60 zinnia plants (a challenge to start that many), and we'd have to buy about 30 cushion mums every fall to make any sort of statement at all (and we're not Rockefellers). And having to plan this bed every year, effectively starting from scratch, is sort of beyond me at this particular juncture.

A few years back I thought about and then bought and planted in that bed some fall-blooming perennial asters. I figured, hey, there are tons of varieties available, they would be pretty from early September on, and, once they got established, no more plant buying needed (for that bed). I bought and planted a few, and, well, they're pretty in September and October, but kind of boring in May, June, July, and August (aster foliage isn't that glamorous). I haven't been dividing them (or weeding), so the nine little plants have remained nine little plants and, to be truthful, are kind of spindly, because about a third of the bed gets only a little sun (old maple tree, remember?), and the sunny part gets covered over with weeds. Which choke the asters. Poor asters.

The ones I planted (and that I intended to move into the autumn garden up by the house earlier this spring, but never did) are 'Hella Lacey,' 'Alert,' and 'October Skies.' The first is tall and light purple, the second is short and purple-red, and the third is short and light blue. Pretty, eh? And come to think of it, some enormous clumps of these guys would look gorgeous in the fall. And I could add 'Bluebird' and 'Lady in Black' to the mix. That would stop traffic.

But emphasis on "enormous clumps," which means I have to divide and divide and divide again what I already have.

But what about the rest of the bed? Asters, asters, and more asters: hmmm, kind of boring (see above).

And then over the past few days it hit me: daylilies. Not the fancy Frankenstein ones that look like a science project gone awry, but more traditional-looking ones. Maybe not ditch lilies since we see them all over the place this time of year, but possibly lemon lilies to start the show in spring and then some other yellow and gold ones through the summer, with an occasional red one thrown in to stir the pot. The virtue of daylilies is that I already have some I can use, their foliage is thick and would help hide the ripening daffodil foliage, they will bloom in half-sun (maybe not as profusely as they do in full sun, but I can forgive that), and if I choose some additional varieties carefully, it's likely I could have bloom from May through September to take attention away from the aforementioned weedy aster leaves.

So another project begins. And I think this might be a good plan.

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