August 4, 2012
Planning for a Lower Maintenance Garden
The daylilies have been blooming profusely for the past month, which has been gorgeous but has required a lot of work to keep up with the deadheading. I've had an overall lack of time and energy for gardening and blogging lately (this mother-of-four job gets serious during summer break), and that's spurring me to modify my plans for the backyard design. Fewer flowers to deadhead. More low-maintenance shrubs, especially evergreens.
I'm also thinking of how I could remove some of the daylilies in the front yard (I have 60 daylilies out there, for goodness' sake) and plant more evergreen shrubs. Since our winters last six months, I really should have been focusing on plants with winter interest all along. But I needed to get flowers out of my system for a few years and get tired of all the work before I could get serious about winter plants. Of course I'll still have plenty of daylilies in front, including a dozen or more plants of my all time favorite 'Hush Little Baby', shown in the first two photos.
I'll keep a few 'Smoky Mountain Autumn' dayliies as well (above). Also 'Autumn Sunset', 'Francine Joiner', 'Big Smile' and some others. But 'Apricot Sparkles' (which has been a stingy bloomer for me in part shade), 'Dublin Elaine' (too tall and pale) and 'Millie Schlumpf' (too pale) will be given away. As for evergreen shrubs, I'm not planning to add a bunch of boring junipers and aborvitae or pokey spruces and barberries (ouch). But there are lots of new, dwarf, broad-leaf evergreen cultivars available now. I need to do some research on them.
Monrovia has some interesting holly cultivars on their website. I plan to ask the experts at the nearby nursery which evergreens are their favorite. At the temple we have dwarf inkberry holly (Ilex glabra 'Compacta') that aren't pokey and 'Little Rascal' holly shrubs that are pokey. They didn't look great during the harsh winter two years ago, but most winters they look OK.
Above is 'Jolyene Nichole'.
I already have some 'Green Tower' boxwoods (5-7' tall, 1-2' wide) and plan to use a few more in the backyard. 'Green Velvet' boxwoods (2-3' tall/wide) are on my list as well. The local nursery says it is their best-selling shrub, and it can handle shade or sun.
Above is 'Blue Pearl' bellflower (Campanula), which I like much more than floppy 'Blue Clips'.
Azaleas, rhododendrons, pieris and other acid-lovers look sickly in my neighborhood unless they are grown with a soil-acidifying regimen. Since I'm going for lower maintenance, those shrubs are not on my favorites list.
Above is yet another shot of 'Royal Sunset' lilies, which were very pretty this year but required deadheading, ugh.
I'll still have perennials and roses in my backyard garden, lots more of them than sane people grow, but they will be concentrated in focal areas instead of spread everywhere. 'Rozanne' geraniums (above) will have a heavy presence as groundcovers. Serious gardeners have already heard plenty about this plant, but my newbie-gardener friends need to know that this is the Best Plant Ever! It blooms from June to frost without deadheading (hallelujah) and comes back every year. It can grow in sun or shade, though it doesn't like intense heat. Hardy to zone 5. One foot tall and 2-3 feet wide. Love that low-maintenance color.