My husband and I have always lovingly cared for our yards. From a tiny condo outside Baltimore Maryland to the current 3 acre spread, our yard eventually takes on a personality unique to us.
This last yard took some getting used to and really hasn’t acquired the “us” factor until the last five or so years. From our purchase of this property in 2007, we have changed the path of the driveway, planted over 30 fruit trees of many varieties and species (some of which were favorites from our first Wisconsin yard (1999-2007), and first experimental home fruit orchard. Even the orchard took a while to figure out, as we had originally planted apple trees along the path of an old gravel drive that followed an easement onto the piece of land we owned. But, alas, deer frightened in a thunderstorm ate the tops off several young trees, and that was that. Along with moving the driveway – off the easement to the complete opposite side of the property, came moving the placement of the fruit trees to a lower spot near a dry creek bed that runs adjacent to our property. They are still visited by deer and other wildlife like turkey, fox, eagles, hawks, and songbirds but the orchard has done well where we finally placed it permanently.
After the starting the orchard came my perennial beds. I am a gardener and I like flowers as opposed to vegetables. I know – not as sustainable but good for the soul and I like to think I am helping pollinators with all the species of flowers our gardens boast.
When we planned out the beds, and lined the edges with either brick or field stone, I made sure there were plenty of host plants for my beloved Monarchs. By the time we moved into this house, I had created monarch habitat in our previous yard and at a local school. I knew what to do. So, our habitat supports three types of milkweed for the monarch larva to munch on and many nectar plants for the adult butterflies – monarchs and others, alike.
It is a nice July evening, cooler that it has been in a great while, so I took to the front perennial bed to do some weeding and at the same time gathered some photos to share what our yard has to offer.
The bench has threadleaf coreopsis growing through the slats in the seat but it still makes an inviting place to contemplate your day. New this year is spiderwort, another native plant, almost done with its blooming season – at least for us. The dusky purple blooms of the spiderwort are stunning in contrast to the bright yellow coreopsis, especially in the morning as I drive out to the street. I have made a point to look each day for the last few weeks. I am pleased with these two new prairie plant additions.
I might be wrong about calling the two tone rust and burgundy flowers Gaillardia or Blanket Flower. The more I look at these they look like a Rudbeckia cultivar. But, I cannot remember where I got them or what they were called. And, you know what? I really don’t care. They look nice, again providing contrast with the purple spiderwort and yellow coreopsis. They were also newly planted last year and seem to be performing in a healthy and beautiful way. This photo was taken behind the bench that is featured in the first snapshot.
My liatris are always a favorite of both the butterflies and me during mid-summer. Their purple stems are so vibrant they are almost luminescent. Liatris are about as carefree as a flower can get, requiring little to no effort on the part of the gardener once they are established. I love that about them!
Their placement in my garden bed is behind a chokecherry bush and next to a sum and substance hosta. The oversized chartreuse hosta leaves pop next to the deeper green of the liatris and the purple flushes of flowers. The contrast takes place not only in color but also foliage shape and texture. I wish I could take credit for purposely pairing these two together but I think I just picked a spot and planted…..without much thought. I am truly so glad I didn’t think twice about it because they look fabulous where they are right now.
On the other side of this large bed is some Karl Foerster Perennial Grass, a Daylily, Russian Sage, Yarrow, and Black-eyed Susan. Again, these plants could not be easier. The Karl Foerster is a clumping grass. It stays in place and with a simple cutting back in late winter – early spring, grows again to new heights. The Russian Sage provides a haven for bumble bees that seem drawn to it like honey, if you’ll excuse the poor pun. It has a wispy, whimsical quality that adds some fantasy to this bed of flowers. The yarrow is having a great year, it the heat and wetness that we have received from mother nature must be just what it wants to put on a show. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it look this good!
Surprisingly enough, I did not take a photo of the yarrow. Maybe, tomorrow.
This bed does not have milkweed in it. However, it does not stop the adult monarchs from flying through to sip some nectar as they pause on the Liatris, Coreopsis or Black eyed Susan. There are other beds in our yard but for tonight this is where I’ll stop. A bucket full of weeds, some pretty blooms, and a bench so inviting even the flowers couldn’t resist.