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The front perennial border


The front perennial border, between the front walkway and our home's foundation, is our oldest flower garden. In fact, when I first created it, I was a pre-novice gardener who thought that "amending the soil" meant digging about half a shovel deep, and mixing in a small bag or two of purchased top soil. The results of this misjudgment stayed with us for a long time, until finally a few years ago I made the effort to give it a big overhaul, and added plenty of mushroom soil in the process.

Even so, this garden still has most of the all-clay-all-the-time characteristics of our native soil. Early on in the garden's life, the south-facing garden had its clay baked brutally in summer. But more recently, the Kwanzan cherry planted in our front yard has started to cast considerable shade over this border, which has necessitated a rethinking of the slate of perennials it contains.

To stick with the foundation planting stereotype, we have a couple yews planted in this strip - but to our credit, we don't prune them into stark rectangles. Stage center is taken by a crape myrtle, and a girl winterberry holly who wishes she lived closer to a boy so she could decorate herself with even more berries. We tried to oblige her once, but the young chap didn't survive. Still she sets plenty of fruit, so we're happy enough.

Since this was our first plant playground, many of our early favorites were grown (and some still grow) here: lamb's ears, blue flax, red oriental poppy, creeping phlox, maiden pink, candytuft, and Dragon's Blood sedum. Maybe that's another reason we resisted that major make-over for so long...

A partial list of the plants growing in our front perennial border

Achillea sibirica var. camtschatica 'Love Parade' (yarrow)
Aconitum carmichaelii (monkshood)
Adenophora khasiana (ladybells)
Allium cernuum (nodding onion)
Allium moly (lily leek; golden garlic)
Allium strictum (stiff onion)
Anemone hupehensis (Japanese windflower)
Anthericum ramosum (branched St Bernard's lily)
Aquilegia atrata (dark columbine)
Aquilegia ecalcarata (spurless columbine)
Aquilegia kareliniana (Afghan columbine)
Aquilegia skinneri
Baptisia 'Twilite Prairieblues' (false indigo)
Barnardia japonica (squill)
Buxus sempervirens (English boxwood; common boxwood)
Callicarpa japonica (Japanese beautyberry)
Campanula latifolia subsp. latifolia (bellflower)
Campanula persicifolia (peach-leaf bellflower)
Centaurea montana (mountain bluet)
Ceratotheca triloba (African foxglove)
Clematis recta var. purpurea (ground clematis)
Clematis x jouiniana 'Praecox'
Codonopsis thalictrifolia
Crocus vernus (and hybrids) (spring crocus)
Dahlia 'Jazz' and 'Bishop of Llandaff'
Deutzia gracilis 'Nikko' (slender deutzia)
Dianthus amurensis 'Siberian Blues' (Amur pink)
Dianthus x roysii
Doronicum hungaricum
Echinacea purpurea (purple coneflower)
Elymus hystrix (bottlebrush grass)
Galanthus elwesii (greater snowdrop)
Galtonia candicans (summer hyacinth)
Geranium sanguineum (cranesbill)
Helleborus x hybridus (lenten rose)
Hemerocallis 'Frans Hals' (daylily)
Hosta hybrids (plantain lily)
Iris domestica (blackberry lily)
Iris reticulata (reticulata iris)
Iris sibirica (Siberian iris)
Lagerstroemia indica 'Rubra' and 'Red Rocket' (crape myrtle)
Lilium (lilies (various species and hybrids))
Lilium 'Black Beauty' (lily)
Lilium formosanum (formosa lily)
Linum lewisii (blue flax)
Lythrum salicaria (purple loosestrife)
Mirabilis jalapa (four o'clocks)
Paeonia (garden peony)
Penstemon smallii (Small's penstemon)
Phlox divaricata (wild blue phlox)
Potentilla megalantha (strawberry cinquefoil)
Primula x polyantha (polyanthus primrose)
Rhododendron 'Purple Passion' (rhododendron)
Sedum aizoon (stonecrop)
Sedum spurium 'Dragon's blood' (caucasian stonecrop; two-row stonecrop)
Sporobolus heterolepis (prairie dropseed)
Stachys byzantina (lamb's ear)
Taxus baccata 'Repandens' (spreading English yew)
Thalictrum chelidonii (meadow rue)
Thermopsis villosa (Carolina lupine, Aaron's rod)
Trollius chinensis 'Golden Queen' (globeflower)
Tulipa hybrids (tulip)
Veronica 'Whitewater'

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Last modified: March 15, 2014
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