Garden concepts

In honor of the 33-degree temperature outside right now, I am writing my first post about gardening! We moved into our cozy, crooked cottage in September of last year. The time of year when flowers wilt, grass shows what a yellow-bellied coward it is in the face of a scorching southern Indiana summer and finally succumbs, and MOSQUITOES are out in full force. Oh the mosquitoes! Needless to say, we effectively ignored the exterior of our home last Fall. In and out of the air-conditioned paradise of our house we tromped, pretending we didn’t notice the weeds, overgrown hostas, and prickly plans that had taken over our untended flower beds. But they were there. Oh yes. They are there.

So, I am mustering the troops and planning the attack! OUT OUT ALL OF IT OUT!!! That’s exactly what I plan to be doing as soon as the ground thaws sufficiently. Half of the ill-conceived flowerbeds that surround our home are edged in old, chipped brick, the other half in a completely unacceptable plastic substitute for brick. My plan: to completely eliminate all but one flower bed. The reason? I possess a black thumb. Even interior plants, carefully watered and nurtured, have the defiance to die on me. I can’t do flowers, I can’t do shrubs, not in pots and certainly not in a flower bed!

We will dig up the front flower beds, it’s much too shady to grow anything anyway, and repurpose the bricks for other projects. My plan is to then lay rows of sod where the flower beds used to be, as it they never happened. In my SINGLE REMAINING FLOWER BED (see, that sounds manageable, right?), I want to plant flowers in my favorite color combination, yellow and purple.

Following the zone map found here, I determined that we are in Zone 6. I literally googled “hardy perennials Zone 6” (meaning, they’ll survive my black thumb AND the weather, and come back the next year for more) and found this list. I wanted to plant lavender but upon further research I realized that with our thick, clay-ey, waterlogged soil, lavender would just not grow well.

I’m going with a lavender look-alike, Russian Sage:

From the Better Homes and Gardens website:

With its tall wispy wands of lavender or blue flowers and silvery foliage, Russian sage is an important player in summer and fall gardens. It shows off well against most flowers and provides an elegant look to flower borders. The aromatic leaves are oblong, deeply cut along the edges. Foot-long panicles of flowers bloom for many weeks. Excellent drainage and full sun are ideal, although very light shade is tolerated. Plant close to avoid staking since the tall plants tend to flop.

Light: Sun
Zones: 4-9
Plant Type: Perennial
Plant Height: 3-5 feet tall
Plant Width: 2.5-3 feet wide
Bloom Time: Blooms midsummer into fall, depending on variety
Landscape Uses: Containers,Beds & Borders,Privacy
Special Features: Flowers,Attractive Foliage,Fragrant,Fall Color,Cut Flowers,Dried Flowers,Attracts Butterflies,Drought Tolerant,Deer Resistant,Easy to Grow

Next, I decided on Nepeta, or “Catmint”:

From the Better Homes and Gardens website:

Catmint is one of the toughest perennials you can grow. It’s a proven performer during hot, dry weather, and the silvery foliage and blue flowers look great most of the season. Deadhead or cut back hard after first flush of bloom to encourage more flowers. Average, well-drained soil is usually sufficient. Tall types may need gentle staking; it sometimes seeds freely.

As you might guess from the common name, catmint is a favorite of cats. They’ll often roll around in the plants in delight.

Light: Sun,Part Sun
Zones: 3-9
Plant Type: Perennial
Plant Height: 4-36 inches tall
Plant Width: 12-24 inches wide
Landscape Uses: Containers,Beds & Borders
Special Features: Flowers,Attractive Foliage,Fragrant,Cut Flowers,Attracts Butterflies,Drought Tolerant,Deer Resistant,Easy to Grow
For a shot of yellow, I’m fond of the Black-Eyed Susan:
From the Better Homes and Gardens website:

Add a pool of sunshine to the garden with a massed planting of black-eyed Susan. From midsummer, these tough native plants bloom their golden heads off in sun or light shade and mix well with other perennials, annuals, and shrubs. Tall varieties look especially appropriate among shrubs, which in turn provide support. Add black-eyed Susans to wildflower meadows or native plant gardens for a naturalized look. Average soil is sufficient for black-eyed Susans, but it should be able to hold moisture fairly well.

Light: Sun,Part Sun
Zones: 3-11
Plant Type: Annual,Perennial
Plant Height: 2-10 feet tall, depending on variety
Plant Width: 1-1/2 to 3 feet wide, depending on variety
Flower Color: Yellow or orange flowers, depending on variety
Bloom Time: Blooms midsummer into fall, depending on variety
Landscape Uses: Containers,Beds & Borders
Special Features: Flowers,Attractive Foliage,Winter Interest,Cut Flowers,Attracts Birds,Attracts Butterflies,Drought Tolerant,Deer Resistant,Easy to Grow
.
That’s as far as I’ve gotten so far- just those three. Honestly, I’d like to keep it simple. Did you notice a few key words that showed up throughout the descriptions of those flowers? DROUGHT TOLERANT, EASY TO GROW, DEER RESISTANT, and my favorite, ATTRACTS BUTTERFLIES!!! Can you think of any other purple or yellow flowers that would work well in my “plant and forget” flowerbed? Let me know!
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