Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Garden Diary: the bank

No, not that bank. Not the one about to collapse into financial ruin. This is the bank around the house; the one that lifts the house above the wet garden below.

I has a rather wild and woolly look. I've been working on a planting of Miscanthus sinensis 'Gracillimus' and Pycnanthemum muticum, with a few scattered perennials mixed in for other season interest - Joe Pye, Baptisia australis, sanguisorba, a few legacy peonies - and a focal Viburnum plicatum 'Mariesii' at the corner, and it's all just fine until autumn when the miscanthus flowers and starts falling apart. At this time of year, I wish I could stop the flowering and just keep the simple mounded shape.

Visually, miscanthus is appropriate. It complements the strong Japanese influence in the design of the house (built in the mid 60's), or I like to think so. But I'm also thinking about replacing it with a lower, more lasting structured panicum such as 'Shenandoah'. Or taking a complete change in course.

The bank is the only planting area I have that isn't saturated most of the year, so I could take advantage of that and grow a mixture of flowering and berried shrubs (caryopteris, hollies) and an entirely different selection of perennials. Maybe a steppe planting like the one at Lady Farm? Whatever I do, I want a planting that will look good in all seasons and will last years with little maintenance.

I do want to keep the dogwood screen at the bottom of the bank. They are great for wildlife, mainly as perches for all kinds of birds, even hummingbirds, and they provide a sense of shelter - a "treehouse" effect - and separation from the garden proper.

Any suggestions?


  1. Intimidated by your plantsmanship and sophisticated grace of your garden style it is with a deep breath and trepidation that I venture a suggestion but here goes...

    I am inspired by your dry stack stone wall and the quality of mystery in your landscape to suggest including ferns with their deep greens/darker tones and although frondy they add a bit of solidness to counterpoint other more frothy plants.

  2. Thanks, WCIG

    I like your suggestion of using contrasting solidity and color to counterpoint the frothiness. The only fern that doesn't fall apart by fall here is Polystichum (Christmas fern), but its relatively small. I might work some of it into the bank. But your idea can be used with other plants too. I'll give some thought to that.

    I really think we should ask others for advice more often and take advantage of other gardeners' insights. I'm grateful for your suggestion.



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