Sunday, July 13, 2014

Diverse Growing Conditions

Over the last several years I have delved into rock gardens of various sorts, gravel gardens, trough garden, meadow gardens and my latest, a "well-drained" garden. They have all been and continue to be great learning opportunities. I am introduced to new challenges of all sorts and get to grow plants that I had previously killed, just admired from afar, or had never even heard of. Below is a sample.

Well-Drained Garden:
I have killed Euphorbia x martini 'Ascot Rainbow' (above) three times. Each planting site had better drainage than the last on the theory that the plant, which the label claims to be hardy in zone 5, died from being too wet in the winter. The third effort was in the very sandy soil of my well-drained garden. Rather than take the next step and put a roof over the plant for the winter I am concluding that the claims on the label are exaggerated and it is NOT hardy in zone 5.
On the other hand my well drained garden prompted me to experiment with previously unfamiliar Silene laciniata, Dianthus amurensis, Muhlenbergia reverchonii, and Stachys lavandula all with gratifying success. Pictured above is the rather insubstantial but engaging Silene laciniata.

Gravel Garden:
I didn't set out to have a gravel garden. I built a rock garden/retaining wall along the edge of my gravel driveway and was thrilled and fascinated to see what decided to migrate into the driveway. In the above picture you can see that forget-me-nots (Myosotis sylvatica) descended from the wall to colonize the gravel. Others that have done the same include Verbena 'Annie", Corydalis cheilanthifolia, Festuca glauca, a dwarf form of Lychnis flos-cuculi, Aetheonema schistosum, and Phemeranthus calycinum. Now I am starting to experiment with conscious introductions to complement the many desirable volunteers.
Above is the Phemeranthus calycinus (aka Talinum calycinum) as it makes an interesting wash over the garden with its easily edited and unobtrusive seedlings.