Filling In the Gaps of the Perennial Border

When I wasn't at the ball fields for the kids' baseball games this past (long) weekend, I finally was able to tackle a project I'd been meaning to get to all spring. The weather decided to cooperate (mostly), and I buckled down got to work on updating the perennial border. 

The harsh winter we had wasn't at all kind to some of our perennials. Several plants that normally wouldn't have trouble overwintering died back to just a few scraggly stems, or bit the dust completely. Some casualties included both artemisia, some stonecrop, the carnations, and most of a heucherella (if you're really interested in the evolution of the border, you can scroll through previous posts about it to see just what I'm talking about). This left me with some holes to fill this year, which I did my moving some existing things around and buying some new plants.

My hatchback full of plants include a white peony ("Mrs. Edward Harding"), three white salvia ("Snow Hill"), a cream-colored iris, a couple new stonecrop ("Tricolor"), and a six-pack of white annual cosmos for filling in some small gaps here and there.

After a lot of digging and dividing and moving, I think I've filled in all the holes left by mean Old Man Winter. Here's the perennial border as it currently stands.

First, a look at the extension of the border on the opposite side of the front porch. This narrow bed consists of daffodils and hosta, along with a white rhododendron. Nothing new here, but it's filled in nicely over the years. 

A closer look at the bi-colored hosta. The description of this plant said that the leaf borders were cream-colored and the flowers were white, but to me the leaves have yellow edges. The flowers, which will bloom in July or August, are definitely lavender. Despite the world's most error-ridden description, I still like these plants.

In this section near the porch I added some globe thistle to replace a dead "Silver King" artemisia that didn't survive the winter. The lamb's ear in front has really spread, and that forced me to move some things around for proper spacing. I also dug up a very ratty blue fescue and replaced it with the spiky zebra grass that's in the front and to the right (I moved that from another spot where it was being crowded out by taller plants, so that worked out well.)

Not too much is different about this section, except I cut back some of the chrysanthemums that are in the front to give the plants behind them more room. I also added some wormwood to fill in a hole, and later Kirk trimmed the holly bushes in back to even them out.

This is the wormwood I was talking about. It's looking incredibly sad right now, because it's just half of a plant I divided from our herb garden. It was previously big and lush and entirely too big for its spot, and I'm hoping that this bounces back once it gets established. I may trim it back to help it put energy into its roots if it still looks this droopy by the weekend. If it doesn't work out, it was free, so no big deal.

Here was a really big hole, and I added a white peony (it's small and to the left, and will balance out the larger peony on the right), and moved some white lilies in between the two peonies. Those lilies had been totally overtaken by some bee balm, so hopefully this move will let them thrive in their own space.

In front of the bee balm I mentioned earlier are three new salvia plants. I'm expecting them to flower this year since they are pretty mature. When they do, they will have nice, airy, white flower spikes:

This makes a reasonable replacement for an ill-considered white gooseneck loosestrife that was in this spot a couple years ago. That plant, as is to be expected of loosestrife, was incredibly invasive, and I had to dig it up. This should be a much tamer alternative.

Some of our stonecrop died back as well, so I filled in the gap. Behind it is a new artemisia to replace another Silver King that couldn't make it through the winter this year.

Looking down the driveway side, you can see a few new plantings in front of a large (as yet un-opened) peony.  

A closer look: a ground-cover variety of white veronica, and two Jacob's ladder plants with variegated leaves and small blue (just trust me on that) flowers. The Jacob's ladder I moved from a place where it was being overrun by geraniums, and I hope the new place isn't too sunny for it. 

Finally, at the very end of the bed I moved a small hosta to the corner by the climbing roses. I used to be under that peony tree and you couldn't see it at all. Again, I hope this new spot isn't too sunny for it. I like that this is the last little surprise you get as you pass through the gate into the back yard.

It's too early to tell exactly what this will look like as the seasons pass, but I'll keep updating with photos as it evolves!


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