Monday, July 1, 2019

Why I don't like Succession Flower Gardens

When I carved out a space for a garden in our front yard, I knew what palette I was looking for. We live in an antique house (circa 1664) and I immediately thought of the colors in a vintage postcard, golden mustard yellow, soft rose pinks, periwinkle blues, plum purples. Our house is painted yellow ochre, so I planted a lot of purple against the house where we have sun as the contrast sings. In front, because of shade, I chose Hellebores a.k.a. Lenten Rose and Caramel colored Heuchera. I think the combo works, but I also learned something from our new neighbors.

Before our neighbors moved in , the former owner and his wife loved gardening. I marveled at how much more they knew about landscaping than I as their yard was on the garden tour one summer. I once asked the owner after enduring a long, sweaty session of pulling up weeds how he managed to keep so many weeds at bay in his flower beds. "Pull 'em" he curtly replied and walked away. But their unique zen-inspired garden was impressive, sophisticated. However, in winter, it dawned on me that their backyard had a dreary, abandoned look to it. No evergreens to shine when winter showed up, and in Spring/Summer when color did show up it seemed all too brief. Peonies bloomed, withered and died, roses bloomed shed petals and retreated.

So in moves the new owner, and she and husband immediately pop bright colored flowers where dark purples and soft white-pinks grew, and well, what a difference that color made! The perennials they selected are long blooming, so uplifting to view. I personally find flower succession gardens depressing, I prefer to be entertained for as long as possible as color awakens a home's exterior, especially here in the Northeast.

So now I'm adding brighter colors to my side gardens, one bed once designated to just purple perennials now has two rose pink BoBo hydrangeas and shocking pink Geranium in it. The other side garden even has some bright lemon yellow. These flashes of color that my neighbor seized upon got me to re-thinking some of my area gardens.

I also noticed that our front area garden has that same abandoned dried up look in winter. I'd neglected to put evergreens in this space, an amateur mistake for sure, so I recently transplanted a bunch of Lavendar there. One thing I did do right was plant a Yellow Twig Dogwood, that offers bright yellow branches after its leaves fall. But this year I'm adding Winter Heaths and Heather and some yard art (details to come) so the area doesn't look so sad-sacky in the cold months. This not only cheers me up, but offers a more attractive view for our neighbors across the street. I think when one gardens it's important to think in terms of not just what makes you happy, but what might positively impact a neighbor.

So don't confine yourself to preconceived plans, allow yourself to be influenced by those around you, even we novice gardeners can instinctively design a garden that inspires others.

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