I usually order some new perennial seedlings from Bluestone Perennials (a wonderful supplier) each year. In the past, I've ordered 3 of this, 6 of that... But the flowerbed always looks disorganized. And I have a difficult "partly shady" bed. This year, I decided to order more of the plants that have been successful here and enlarge the individual groups. I want larger areas of successful flowers.
The Salvia Purple Rain have done well and expanded to 8x8 feet and looked great last year. They're what got me changing my mind on the design. So the 6 Stokesia were good and I ordered 15 more. The 6 Veronica Royal Candles did well, so I added 9 more. And the Trollius thrived, so I added 9 more of them too. My Goldenrod are spreading politely, so I will let them expand in the 2 spots they occupy. The asters always do well here and they are spreading, so I will leave them some room. I intend to end up with about 8x8 foot areas for all of them.
Some have not done so well. I had a large are of Columbine ans one adjacent of coreopsis. They all died after 3 nice years. Maybe they are short-lived perennials... But I won't be getting more of them. For whatever reason they didn't like my soil or watering habits or sunlight. I love Columbine, but if they won't thrive here, I won't keep trying. I had them in 4 different places and they just don't like my yard. Oh well!
The coreopsis thrive in the planters, but not in the ground. Lovely as they are, they are "out" of the main flowerbeds.
The coneflowers do well, and I divide them every few years to spread around. They don't seem to mind being divided and return beautifully.
All my Black Eyed Susans did great in one place for 4 years then almost all died last year. Well, more accurately, they just didn't return this year. I have no idea why. I'm growing some from seed and will try to replant at a different location.
In the places where perennials died, I am planting annuals this year. Grown from seed, there is less of an investment, and if they grow well, I will know it is not the soil. In the Fall, if the annuals do well, I will dig the soil deeply and add more compost etc. Then try perennials again.
So, I got to work in the garden today planting some of the additional perennials!
First, I scraped the soil with the scuffle hoe to undercut as many weeds as possible. I doubled the number of Trollius. I wish I had ordered 3 more. That would have JUST filled the spot.
I added 9 more Veronica Royal Candles. That was about the right number. I had 9 before.
The Stokesia Asters Professor Jellito (or something like that) were great last year. I am increasing them for 9 plants to 24. But that means moving 2 groups of a few surviving plants not doing very well. I have a spot to move them to. Sunnier, so maybe they will be happier (and a source for more plants of their kind next year if they do well).
But I haven't planted them yet. First, the area is covered with mock strawberries (the bane of my garden) and I had to go though and dig them out individually first. And it is also covered with a a very invasive Salvia called Purple Knockout. that I originally planted 40' away.
Warning, don't ever buy Salvia Purple Knockout! It self-seeds into the lawn, the apple bed, the other flowers, etc. It is evil! It spreads EVERYWHERE! If I hated a neighbor, I would give him cell packs of this perennial nightmare. If my property was to lay abandoned for 20 years, the only growth would be mock strawberry, salvia purple knockout, virginia creeper vines, and poison ivy. ARGHHH!
And I spent 2 hours pulling mock strawberry plants out of the area where I want to remove the Salvia purple knockout and plant more of the stokesia. It isn't easy easy! They don't up by the roots easily. You have to pinch down a bit and get ahold of the knobby crown. They are so hard to eliminate. If you don't get the knobby crown out, they return and send out runners.
And then there are all the wild onions! I've learned there are only 2 times you can pull then out. When the soil is very dry, or when the soil is very wet!
I collected quite a pile of weeds pulled out one by one today...
I got almost 200 square feet cleaned of those mock strawberries today, and that was a big deal. If it was a farm, I could just undercut the entire area and leave the weeds to dry and die. But it is a perennial bed, so I have to go through the 100' x 10' bed picking through the desirable plants like going after hair lice nits.