May 16, 2011
Saturated Spring Color in the West Bed
It has been so exciting to see the vivid colors burst into bloom in the west flagstone bed this spring. It ended up as a rainbow of hues - warm purple, deep indigo blue, green leaves of course, golden yellow, orange-red, and hot pink.
The most rewarding part for me has been to finally have an area of the garden that looks 'designed'. Although the front yard is getting to that organized, polished point, it's not quite there yet. And of course the backyard abounds with pretty plants that are thrown in together without much planning.
Anyway, this west bed features repeating clumps of plants - both perennials and bulbs - that tie the whole area together and draw you along the path. Though it didn't turn out exactly as planned . . . the orange-red tulips were supposed to be peach 'Daydream' with a 'pencil-thin dark edge'. Hmmm. These tulips do not look like the picture on the bag from Costco. But I think their vivid color works even better than the soft peach would have, so I'm not complaining.
This photo shows Alyssum 'Basket of Gold' with dwarf purple irises (from my friend Robyne) and Aubrieta 'Axcent Purple' in the background. I grew the Alyssum from seed last year, so the clumps are still small, but they're adding a bright note of gold to the design.
I have been so impressed with this type of Aubrieta. It has been blooming for nearly two months now, outlasting each wave of bulb blooms and continuing to provide cheerful color. I highly recommend this plant, which also comes in rose, blue, and I'm pretty sure I saw a golden yellow version as well.
Here we have 'Crown Princess Mary' tulips, which were ordered from White Flower Farm last fall. It's another plant that I'd strongly recommend, since each bulb gives several peony-like blooms. It's given a lot of bang for each bulb. Of course my daughters are quick to point out that the beautiful hot pink color is their very favorite part of this bed!
I've learned that the only thing better than a beautiful plant is a beautiful plant set off by the perfect accent plant, so the colors, forms and textures of both plants enhance each other. In this case the 'Axcent Purple' Aubrieta is the perfect accent (ha-ha) for the tulips.
Here's a shot showing a 'Blue Jacket' hyacinth, which started blooming before most of the other plants and are completely spent by now. I cut back all the flower spikes yesterday.
Thankfully, as the 'Blue Jacket' hyacinths finished, these 'Blue Spike' grape hyacinths started up (Muscari armeniacum - available from Brent & Becky's bulbs). They are larger than most grape hyacinths but still smaller than regular hyacinths. They have proven to be good naturalizers for me, coming back in bigger clumps each year.
This photo highlights the difference in color between the warm purple dwarf irises and the true blue of the grape hyacinths.
Here's another shot showing how well three different forms can work together - airy, lacy golden Alyssum with bold balls of pink from the tulips and a mat of purple Aubrieta.
I'll end with a final shot of the tulips-which-are-not-'Daydream' with purple and pink in the background, to remind me that surprises can be even better than the plan. Now I'm looking forward to salvia, bearded irises, catmint, asiatic lilies, english roses, daylilies, coreopsis and yarrow to bloom in this area as the season progresses. Plenty of vivid color to come.