Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you all well. I thought I better get this post finished. Truthfully, I have started this post many times and even changed the name.
I didn’t know where to go with it. Currently, there isn’t much to show and I have barely gotten started. I have been busy with this and that and the fences. I decided to share a few photos of the yard and beds from the beginning when I moved back to the farm in 2013. Kind of the highlights.
One thing I need you to keep in mind is that I get behind weeding. I don’t have a well-manicured yard or well-kept beds. Mississippi was a different story. I had plenty of time there and the mansion was on one of the main streets in the historic district. It wasn’t perfect and was always a work in progress. I think that is the same with everyone, though. Our yards, beds, and gardens are always a work in progress.
The above photo was taken on May 6 (2018) of our house and yard. It was just beginning to green up well.
When I moved back here, I think on February 22 in 2013, there was already plenty of snow. A good friend helped me move from Mississippi and it was in the 30’s the entire 8-9 hour trip. We ran into snow about 2 hours away near Springfield. It was around 8 PM when we arrived at my parent’s home. It was dark and snowing a little still. Thomas and I unloaded the plants I brought with me and took them to the basement. Some that would be OK were left in the garage (because they were dormant). Everything else I brought was unloaded in the garage so Thomas could be on his way.
The above two photos were taken on March 2 in 2013. Dad was 82 at the time and mom was going to turn 81 on April 20. I was glad to be back on the farm and truthfully I have no idea where I would have went if he hadn’t asked me to move back. I had just sold the mansion and I had A LOT of plants. When dad asked me to move back, I told him I had a lot of plants. He said, “Yeah.” I know he had no idea and he couldn’t hardly hear what I was saying on the phone.
After I arrived he told me I could do whatever I wanted. GEEZ! He was the third person that told me that. None of them had any clue what they had said.
THE BED ON THE NORTH SIDE OF THE HOUSE…
Naturally, as the temperatures started warming up my wheels began turning. I brought my old spade with me from Mississippi, plus dad had a shovel, and my hands were anxious to get around the handle and my fingers were itching to get into the dirt. The last time my hands were in the dirt in this location was when I had a garden here in the early 1980’s. Dad’s house is where one of grandpa’s gardens had been that I took over after he passed away. Yeah, things were really different than before and I had a new challenge.
This area receives morning and late afternoon sun. It is a perfect spot for plants that like a good amount of light but need protection from midday sun.
Right off the bat, dad told me I couldn’t dig in the area on either side of the steps. He said he had flowers there that were from Aunt Inez. Aunt Inez was his mother’s sister. Sure enough, they started coming up from seed they had self-sown. By the time they had started growing good and started budding, I realized they were Hardy Ageratum, Blue Mistflower (or whatever you want to call them). They have continued coming up every year although I have only seen one so far this year. They grew very tall in 2017 and flopped over so most of their seeds may be in the grass. I made a mistake and didn’t cut their stems off and lay them in the bed last fall. That is the only thing I did differently and that won’t happen again. This may be a mistake that will be hard to correct with just one plant coming up.
I was very glad to see that dad had moved the Geranium sanguineum (Bloody Cranesbill) from the bed behind the old foundation to this bed. I bought their descendants from Bluestone Perennials after I moved to the farm in 1981.
These plants make a great groundcover but you do have to keep an eye out for crown rot especially when they get really thick. I think I am going to move a few to where they will get more sun to see how they do. This soil stays damp longer on the north side of the house and doesn’t drain well in the winter.
Hmmm… 2014. Oh yeah. This is the spring I moved one of the clumps of Achillea millefolium (Fern Leaf Yarrow) I brought from Mississippi to the north bed. I added the Astilbe with no label, Lysimachia nummularia ‘Goldilocks’, Agastache ‘Black Adder’, a few Coleus, and other miscellaneous plants I can’t remember right off the top of my head. Oh, yeah! I put a Lavandula angustifolia ‘Platinum Blond’ between the Coleus. I had bought the Coleus from Harrison Greenhouse and they were unlabeled. They grew MUCH larger than I expected and the next thing I knew the Lavandula had disappeared. Well, I had gotten busy on the farm and with other things and completely missed it was in trouble.
The Achillea doesn’t like it here and keeps moving farther away from the house every year. All by itself. I promised it I would move it where it will get more sun, probably back to the south side. I am also eyeballing a spot by the barn for the Achillea or maybe some Celosia spicata ‘Cramer’s Amazon.’
In 2015 I had found a Salvia elegans (Pineapple Sage) from Wagler’s Greenhouse and it was the highlight of the north bed. I had also moved the Rudbeckia fulgida ‘Goldsturm’ to this bed which spread so well I started moving it to other beds as well. I am going to put a few back in the south bed this year. I always plant a few Coleus in this bed and they always do very well.
The Pineapple Sage has awesome red flowers and a nice scent. It is also a hummingbird magnet.
I also transplanted a Celosia spicata ‘Cramer’s Amazon’ that didn’t have variegated leaves on the left side of the porch. They always look great in mass plantings, but as a specimen they are AWESOME!
2016 was the first year I planted the Colocasia esculenta in the north bed. I had been planting the bigger bulbs in front of the chicken house but they seemed to be getting smaller there. Smaller is NOT a good thing when it comes to Elephant Ears. They did AWESOME in the north bed.
I found a Colocasia gigantea ‘Thailand Giant’ at Wildwood Greenhouse in 2017 which I planted next to the porch. I also FINALLY found a Hosta ‘Empress Wu’ I put in the corner behind the ‘Thailand Giant’. I had wanted a Hosta ‘Empress Wu’ for this spot for a long time but they were generally pretty expensive online. I found one at the Green Street Market (a great garden center) in Clinton but I didn’t want to pay $20.00. Luckily, I found a smaller pot at the Muddy Creek Nursery locally for half the price.
The two Colocasia esculenta on the right were already bigger than the ‘Thailand Giant’ when I brought it home. Once it caught up with the other two, they were neck in neck the rest of the season. The Coleus ‘Spiced Curry’ was also a beautiful plant. I had also put a Lavandula dentata (French Lavender) next to the corner post of the porch.
I stored the Colocasia in the basement for the winter and they were all doing fine until recently. I noticed the ‘Thailand Giant’ rotted. I found a listing on Ebay so I ordered a bulb. It should be here this week and I will plant it in this same spot along with the two larger Colocasia esculenta. I may move them farther to the right so they will be in the center of the bed. The seller said he sent me one that weighed a pound so it may get REALLY HUGE! 🙂
Well, it certainly doesn’t look like much now. As I mentioned above, the Conoclinium coelestinum ‘Aunt Inez’ is not looking good. I amend the soil on both sides of the steps every year because it gets hard as a brick. One year I completely dug up the soil and removed it and added new and it goes right back to the way it was. It’s like the new soil disappears and now there is a sunk in spot. Hopefully, more will come up besides just one. I have watered the area because it was so dry and thought maybe the additional water would soften the soil somewhat.
The Hosta ‘Empress Wu’ is looking really good but I think it needs to be moved farther away from the corner. I am going to move the Achillea where it will get more sun, too. The Lysimachia nummularia ‘Goldilocks’ (Creeping Jenny) continues to travel. I have already added an Agastache ‘Kudos Gold’ next to the corner post.
The entire north bed needs to be more elevated to allow for better drainage but that chore will be for another time perhaps. I just have to learn to stop planting perennials that need good winter drainage to survive.
When I started this post it was going to be about all the beds around the house. Well, it became too long so I thought I better finish it in part 2. I hope you enjoyed this little journey in time. It’s all a work in progress. We learn as we grow what works well in certain areas and what doesn’t. I have realized that when labels and information say full sun to part shade the plants will do their best somewhere in between, especially during the heat of the summer. The north bed is that somewhere in between.
It may sound strange, and I do consider this my home, but something is definitely missing. I know what it is… I think I long for a tropical climate without winter.
Until next time, stay well, be positive, get out and enjoy nature, and GET DIRTY!