Monday, March 25, 2013

By the front sidewalk

Many of the daffodils are blooming, but I haven't taken many pictures because I am
still in the process of cleaning up the garden. It'll be a miracle if I get the garden cleared
before the main spring show, but in the meantime, the birds still love the cover.

So, back to the archives (cue strumming harp) ...

Soon after the house was moved and DH put in a new sidewalk I put in bearded iris next
to it. At a beautiful old house in Carrboro that had been turned into doctors' offices I
saw a line of daylilies and then of iris next to the sidewalk and thought how elegant that
arrangement was in its simplicity.

The pictures of the iris below are from April and May 2008 and 2010.

April 2010

'Quaker Lady' 2008

Peach noid 2010

'Celebration Song', 2010

'Everything Plus', 2010

The iris were very successful the first year, and then they started quickly melting away over the next couple of winters. I believe a large part of the problem were voles laughing as they tunneled through the loose sandy soil and munched on the iris rhizomes. (Prissy was snug in her heated bed at the time; her resume would read "Excellent huntress. Hunts only under ideal conditions.")

I started adding spiderwort and foxglove to fill in the
gaps, but conditions were too hot and dry for the spiderwort.

Desperate times call for desperate measures. So I called upon -- Pink Showy Primrose.
Yes, the plant many know as a thug disguised as a princess in a lovely pink frock.

I'd actually managed to kill pink primrose a couple of times and it languished by the vegetable garden for a few years before seeing an opening and taking off. What did I have to lose? After all, nothing else was doing all that well there, and I wanted something low-growing and spring blooming. So, in the primrose went, and it loved the sandy soil and spread everywhere.

Primrose beside sidewalk and vegetable garden in the background.

Happily, other things have managed to co-exist with it, like Pink Muhly and Swamp Sunflower and Summer Phlox (added at the same time as the primrose ) and especially Bidens. Bidens didn't have any trouble coming up through it at all.

Besides the narcissus added for very early color, I also planted Allium sphaerocephalon after seeing it on some blogs. It has a rich black raspberry color and its effect lasts a long time, as it's beautiful both in bud and flower and opens over an extended period of time.

Some foxglove for height variation...

Four o' clocks, Mexican petunia, Bidens and Muhly provided color later in the season.

The final result in September and October was a bit tall and crowded. The sidewalk is narrow to start with, and with the hydrangeas on one side and Bidens on the other, it was difficult to get along the sidewalk when the plants were soaked with dew or rain without getting wet too. This, despite the fact that I cut back the plants several times. At least the overall effect was colorful. :)


  1. Lovely photos of last summer, I like geraniums and iris!
    Hope you got your garden cleared and have relaxed!

  2. The pretty pink oenothera - evening primrose - has such a reputation for thiggishness, but like you, I found it didn't want to do much where I had planted it. It really is a lovely plant, and you have used it well.

    I think in certain conditions it will take off, but in others, it behaves, and I'm not sure what the difference is. I like that you have it along a walk where you can look down at the delicate flowers close up.

    1. I think the difference is in how heavy the soil is. I think pink primrose likes a light soil best.

  3. Every time I read your post I am amazed at how many plants we have in common. I am trying so hard to get rid of my Primrose, but I'm losing the battle. It's just taken over one of my beds. I had Bidens come up on it's own. I didn't know what it was until the second season and it started coming up all over. I've since taken it out. I love your Foxgloves. I have a couple, but they never do very well in my garden. I'm going to try growing them from seed this year and see what happens. I love how your garden looks so full. I'm trying to create this look!

  4. The pink primrose may be a thug, but it certainly puts on a beautiful show! Love the photo of all the irises by the sidewalk, though--darn those pesky voles!

  5. Gosh how nice the front walkway looks with the irises. I have tried pink primroses before, but they never prospered. I want to see if I can create a new spot for plants that like sandy soil and will definitely keep them in mind for it. They look so pretty massed along the walkway.

  6. I love the effect of your mix of plants. It's brilliant, both in color and design!

  7. I once had to dig up an entire flower bed to get rid of all the pink primrose roots. They took over like Ghengis Khan. But they look great by your sidewalk. Maybe the voles are keeping it in check. :o)

  8. Looks so pretty! Do the voles not eat the primrose? We have voles too and they make planting very challenging!

    1. They don't really seem to eat the primrose, or if they do, I think the primrose will make up for the loss during the growing season. Voles really love fleshy roots best so they'd have to work harder on the primroses. Oddly enough the voles don't really seem to go for the daylilies. Perhaps where the daylilies are is too wet in winter for them.

      I have to go to a lot of trouble to keep baptisia and lespedeza in the garden. Big pots with the bottoms cut out, gravel on top. Otherwise the voles would eat them all!

  9. I love the pink primrose, just the right look and obviously the right conditions. There's the right plant for every space isn't there?

  10. Your irises are incredibly beautiful. Voles have become a nuisance in my garden too.

  11. Such a beautiful sidewalk !!! I love the way you are chosing your plants, Sweetbay :)

  12. Lovely...and what a treat to see after a few gray rainy days in my garden. I have pink primrose and noticed it took off this winter! But, I can pull it out after it blooms~although, it will return. Does biden need moist soil? gail

    1. Gail Bidens do like moisture, but they can take a lot of dryness in stride too. It's a tough plant.

  13. It IS definitely colorful SB. I like the original plan ~ too bad the iris didn't make it ~ you sure have (had) a lot of pretty ones. Isn't it funny how sometimes "plan B" turns out to be just as nice as the first one? So true with your sidewalk garden.
    I definitely want to thank you for your kind words, thoughts & prayers too over the past few months. It's been one hard time, that's for sure. I hope I'm turning a corner now but I never know from day to day. I'm counting on the garden to bring me around if nothing else does. Hopefully the weather will start acting like spring soon...

  14. That 4th photo is stunning! I need to get some tips from you my irises haven't done anything the past two years and it looks like it may be a repeat this year.

  15. Wonderful blossoms. I just love the foxglove as its blossoms grow in an elongated cluster along one side of the flower spike and often droop toward the ground depending on the cultivar. They vary in color from deep purple to creamy white, yellow or pink.


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