Monday, November 10, 2008
Shade Garden Remix
I wish I had a really good reason for taking a break from blogging for a while, like tracking the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker or winning the starting point-guard position at Carolina, but I don't. Although I haven't been writing about gardening, I have been getting my hands dirty, which I suppose is better than the reverse.
My front flowerbed occupies a square of real estate in the corner formed by the driveway and front walk. Two dogwoods keep the back section in deep shade throughout the growing season, and it is here that my hellebores, hostas, lungworts, astilbes, and foamflowers exist in what is essentially a tiny patch of forest. The front part of the bed, however, faces southeast, so that the outer edge is in the sun all day, creating a desert-like habitat that once fried a creeping phlox. (My mother was astounded to hear this, observing that phlox can grow on a sidewalk...maybe so, but not during the hellish summer of 2007.) The in-between area varies from part sun to part shade, depending on the angle of the sun in the sky.
This is also the most visible part of the yard. You see it from the street, we walk by it on our way to the front door, and it is what we see from the big windows in the living room, where I sit with my cat Casey and drink my tea in the morning. Last year it looked lovely in April and May, but rather nondescript the rest of the year, so I wanted to give this bed some year-round interest.
I found a December-blooming camellia in the back yard that had done poorly in two locations, so I hauled it up to the front yard and combined it with a deciduous azalea, ("Swamp Azalea" as it's called in South Carolina). I added some Epimedium, a few dozen daffodils, and a Dwarf Hinoki Cypress and a collection of various heucheras. Then I rearranged the gumpo azaleas and some of the hellebores into a clump surrounding the birdbath.
A few days later, I noticed what looked like hostas coming up in the middle of the gumpos and struggling to get out from under the concrete birdbath. "Now that's weird," I thought. "Hostas don't come up in October."
"No, you idiot, but Arums do."
It's always something...