This summer I really struggled with my garden. In the Spring it started off with a boom! I was afraid I had too many plants in my border but as summer waned on I realized I had far less afternoon sun then the year before. My plants chugged along offering a few blooms but none of my high summer plants got as big and lush as I hoped. In late August they received a significant trampling from the insulation guys and I gave up.
I think I need help. I’ve come to the realization that I won’t have the cottage garden of my dreams overflowing with peonies, echinacea and hollyhocks. The learning curve for this house and garden is steep which at the moment is terribly frustrating. Can’t something just grow and be beautiful so I can move onto something else to pour my money into?
I picked up Making the Most of Shade (Rodale), by Larry Hodgson, in hopes of gaining more insight. For me it’s been hard to envision a shady border on an urban size lot. When I think of shade; I imagine woods and wetlands. I only have one tree but my corner is canopied in shade by my neighbor’s trees.
The book focuses on perennials offering a two page discussion on each plant’s profile, growing tips, problems and solutions, top performing varieties and garden notes. Under Aruncus ‘Goat’s Beard’ Larry offers this note:
One of nicest hedges I’ve ever seen was composed not of shrubs but of goat’s beard planted in row in front of a farmhouse. The hedge was full and as dense as any shrub could be and coiffed with beautiful feathery white blooms. When I stopped to take a picture, the owner came out and we talked a bit. It turned out the owner had unsuccessfully tried twice to grow a “traditional” hedge, once of arborvitae and the other time of lilacs, but snow shoved onto the plants from a passing snowplow kept tearing off branches, and they never filled in properly. With goat’s beard, though, the entire hedge sprouts anew from underground each spring, eliminating damage from the snowplow.
Sounds like a familiar problem? I have the same issue in my front garden bed. I’ve tried endless summer hydrangeas and then boxwoods which I plan on yanking next Spring to move to containers because of the snowplows and potential dog pee problem. I’m not sure goat’s beard will be the right fit but I think using a perennial would offer me the advantage of it dying back in the winter.
A beautiful “hedge” of goat’s beard found on Macgarden’s blog.