In the Dark Garden…

I’m thinking the garden is a whole different place when the night creatures come around in comparison to how I see it by daylight. I’m thinking of wide-eyed cats in moving along the perimeter of the fence, small mice emerging from their holes in the walls, owls looking down at the whole of it from a perch in the pin oak. Last week I noticed some “calling cards” on the patio chairs. Hmmm…..My best guess is opossum. I wonder if Mama O is living under the porch. And I wonder who she is hanging with at the table and what they’re serving up while they dine by moonlight and shadows of leaves.  A friend suggested a nanny cam so I can see what is happening but I think it’s a whole lot more fun to imagine and create a story. Whoever it is they don’t seem to be causing much harm, at least none that I note. I hope they are enjoying my handiwork in the midnight hours. 

We are coming down to the final stretch for  Top 10 in the Garden Series. I hope the previous weeks have been useful for you as you plan your garden center shopping. Please do yourself a favor and shop for your plants and supplies either this weekend, next week during the week, or after Mother’s Day. Mother’s Day weekend is to garden centers as the Saturday before Christmas is for retailers. One garden center employee told me last year that they expect to do three quarters of their entire season’s sales the week of Mother’s Day just to give you a perspective on the busy.  Avoid the crowd and shop early. Typically, I head to one of my haunts for plants during the week before MsD. This way I’ll get the best offerings without the crowds. Consider this. And the staff should be much less harried and able to help. Most perennials are emerged at this point, too, so there should be plenty to pick from. Some of the warm season grasses may still be thin, but barring them, you should find inventories at their best.

Autumn Fern—the coppery color of this fern make it an interesting addition to the garden. Like most ferns, it prefers moist conditions and shade. An excellent ground cover choice as it is not overly large. Yellow foliages or plants with yellow flowers would make a good companion plants;

Tassel Fern—this is my favorite fern. The texture is great—slightly furry and it has a tassel seed-head for extra interest. It grows like a hosta–sort of fans out from the center and is good in dry shade, a big plus. It is a good companion to Hellebore;

Cinnamon Fern–a bit taller than the other two ferns, and more upright in habit. It has a tall seed head that persists into the winter;

Switch Grass–There are so many attributes to this plant that I love. First, I love the strong vertical shape of the grass that doesn’t flop all over its garden bed neighbors. Even if we have a bad storm in August, it seems to perk up shortly afterwards. Most varieties have a noticeable blue-green color to the foliage and the fall color takes on a big of burgundy-red. The seed head reminds me of a sparkler. It grows about five feet tall and about two to three feet wide. It is one of our most handsome native grasses;

Sea Oat Grass–another native plant. This grass will tolerate some amount of shade–dry shade, so it’s great for that purpose. It does seed itself about a bit but the leaves are easy to recognize and easy to edit if you have more than you want. Or share it with friends. The seed head looks like a flattened fish filet and quakes and shakes when the wind blows;

Japanese Forest Grass–I’ve only had this in my garden for a few years, but it is popular in many gardens. It is another for shade and the yellow color really brightens up a dark spot. It has a rather cascading habit and looks great paired with Ligularia and Lobelia;

Karl Foerster Grass–a grass with a very slender shape, not even two feet wide, growing maybe five feet tall. It can stand as a specimen for a small garden. Katie has decide she needs greens in her diet and has pruned this quite nicely for me this year. So far neither seem to have suffered for it and it saved me a few minutes of time in cutting back. The seed heads last a long time and hold up well in dried arrangements; 

Carex “Blue Zinger”–a low, mounding sedge with easy blue color. A great border plant for shade. Prefers moist conditions;

Carex “Red Rooster”–this sedge will tolerate more sun and keeps a nice bronze color all year. It is especially attractive in the winter and looks great with sedums and other vibrant-green colored plants;

Pink Muhly Grass–if you have a protected, south-facing garden, this is a really nice grass. We are on the edge zone for it so plant it only if you have a warm micro-climate. The seed heads look like pink clouds at the end of summer. Looks best in groups.

Happy Planting! The next edition will be about tools and resources, so you have planting choices to get you well stocked. Please send me a line to let me know what you’ve selected;  I’d love to hear from you.

Tools of the Trade...
Perennial Favorites....