This month at Gardening Gone Wild there is a certain focus on “Covering Ground” in the garden. Just recently there was an addition to the month’s focus by author/garden designer Barbara Ellis that was well worth reading. This article actually made me wish for the book referred to, which is saying a lot given the fact that our book shelves are (once again) smaller than our collection of books and the money supply is also quite limited in this economy. But I digress.
As I was reading her words and looking at her pictures, I was reminded of several unsuccessful combinations I have experienced in my garden. One was the Oenethera planting, which I discussed at length elsewhere. I’m not sure I have discovered what plant I could combine with the showy evening primrose, unless it was possibly lily of the valley, another plant that has been banished from my beds to the “Outback” of the property. That was one that I discovered secretly strangling all the hostas in its vicinity, winding rhizomes about the roots sneakily from below.
This post is about a small corner of my Hosta Dell. The cautionary part of the tale is this: When the garden designers in their wisdom tell you to space your plants far enough apart when you originally plant them, take this advice to heart. They are not just blowing smoke, they know whereof they speak. BUT, and this is actually a pretty big but, even when you follow that excellent advice you can still run into difficulties.
Observe the Hosta Dell, in the far distant past of 2005.
This was BIS (Before Ice Storm) and also BSG (Before Stroll Garden). Look in the right corner of this shot, just in front of the fence is a fairly new planting of hostas, including Blue Angel right in front of the fence. To its right you see the pale flash of Remember Me. There is Stained Glass in there too, too small to really see in this year.
The garden designers and tag information say to space Blue Angel 36″ apart. I saw on the tag that it was supposed to get to be 48″ in diameter at maturity, so I planted it giving it LOTS of space. For scale, observe that the fence posts are eight feet apart.
Now see the same space in 2007.
All is well, things are growing nicely, spacing seems to be good. But I was laboring under a delusion, I am afraid. In 2008, things started to get crowded.
I moved Remember Me out from under the skirts of Blue Angel that year. I took the liatris and put it elsewhere as well. In the grip of some sort of cognitive disconnect, I moved a native tiger lily into that area, thinking it would be okay there.
Now see 2009.
The lily is still holding its own, you can just see its stalk to the right of Blue angel, which at this point I believed to have reached its full adult potential. The yellow and green hosta in front of it, whose name I unfortunately do not recall at present, was supposed to be 18″-24″ in diameter.
For the record, the lily did bloom.
This is what it all looks like this year, I acquired this image yesterday.
Again, bear in mind that the fence posts are a mere eight feet apart. Judging by that you can see that the putatively 48″ Blue angel is actually more like 84″ — perhaps there was a misprint on the tag? And the one in front is at least twice as big as it was supposed to get. The poor lily is manfully pushing its way into the light above the blue hosta, but it looks very unhappy.
The whole area is making a wonderful job of covering ground, in fact the “cute” little bunnies find this to be wonderful habitat. And there is hardly a weed to be found under these rampantly happy hostas. However, I’m starting to fear that I’m going to have to move some more stuff around in the near future. As it is, I have pulled quite a few starts of hostas out of this area for other people this year in an attempt to keep things more or less under control. Certainly that poor lily is getting moved as soon as it is finished blooming, if it blooms at all this year.
Where will it all end, I wonder? I’ve been looking for the steroid pusher that has been visiting the hosta garden. I suppose I could blame my compost pile. Goodness knows these plants are not suffering from malnutrition!
At least the ground is well covered.