Sunday, May 15, 2016

Plant What You Love

This week the bigleaf magnolia (Magnolia macrophylla) bloomed, just as it has for the last 6 years. Every year, when it blooms, I am just as happy as that first year.  The happy feeling reminds me to encourage others to plant what you love and to re-evaluate every few years whether your garden represents what you love.

Magnolia macrophylla

This year, I realized that the hardy ageratum (Conoclinium coelestinum) had taken over the side bed so aggressively that there was no room for other plants. As much as I like the ageratum, I decided that it was time to make a choice. If I wanted room to plant more of what I loved, I would have to get rid of something that had overstepped its bounds.

Hope to see Helianthus porteri like this in the fall

After I removed a lot of the ageratum (as well as potted up some excess spreading orange coneflower (Rudbeckia fulgida var. fulgida) for friends), I planted new seedlings of Coreopsis tinctoria (which I have wanted to include for years), Stone Mountain daisy (Helianthus porteri). I also spread some seeds of annuals like cosmos, zinnia, and sunflowers. With the smothering cover of the ageratum removed, several other existing perennials will also get a chance to grow and shine.

Also removed were a couple of shrubs that were too big for the space and were constantly being tortured by deer. I always winced when I saw them. The area is now available for sunny perennials and I’ve begun moving plants into it. Now I feel good about how that space is performing.

Earlier in the year I removed a small oak that was shading out an area that used to be sunny. I have plenty of oaks and few sunny areas so I reclaimed this area in the name of light. The perennials there have recovered nicely with the extra light and are blooming again!

Geranium maculatum is something I'll always make room for

Of course, I’m always trimming the grass edges, stealing more from the lawn every year. Native flowers make me happier than grass does because I know they are supporting the local ecosystem. Kind of like the Marie Kondo approach to organizing – “discard things that do not spark joy” - but apply it to the garden instead.

So step back, take a look at what you’ve got and decide if you need to make room for what you love. I went through a similar exercise back in 2011 with one of the front beds.

Gardening is all about change and sometimes you need to be the one to initiate it. Have fun!

1 comment:

  1. Brilliant, Ellen. You are an excellent writer and I so enjoy your blogs. Wish I had heard the Marie Kondo quote earlier--really makes a lot of sense and perhaps will spur me to do the final "editing" of Frank's stuff.