Color in the Landscape

I love vegetable gardening and eating the varied delicious results. Harvesting potatoes, tomatoes, beans, spinach, carrots, and the many other crops offers a literal “fruits of my labor” success. My raspberry plants and fruit trees thrill me each time I swallow a warm, ripe berry or savor a juicy plum. Consequently, many of my articles focus on that type of gardening, the growing of edibles. An arena that seems to receive much less literary attention is flower gardening, but it’s no less rewarding to me.

Much of my gardening enjoyment comes from the endeavor. I like getting my hands dirty, caring for plants, and struggling to encourage growth in a challenging gardening environment. Vegetable gardening is a series of daily events with planting, weeding, fertilizing, thinning, pruning, and harvesting on the list of chores. For me, my flower beds require much less residual work. I focus on perennials and once the initial planting and mulching is complete, they pretty much take care of themselves and fade on my activity roster. But when they burst into bloom it fosters the same sentiment as my veggies and fruits.

Many of my summer flowers are finally blooming. My season is much later than most due to the high elevation and I seem to enjoy new flowers as other gardeners are watching their gardens wane. The flower beds were put in and planted last year so this is the first season when they’ve been able to assert their own authority. I’m pleased with the results.

My wife is enchanted by the Kniphofia, the Red Hot Pokers. One long bed is filled with xeric plants and the Kniphofia steal the show. Among the flashy Gaillardia, the stately presence of the rainbow stalks draw immediate attention to their display.

Kniphofia showing some color

I devoted an entire bed to lilies of different varieties. Not all of the bulbs produced plants, a deficiency at the nursery I think, but the ones that survived the winter are setting the stage for a regal production. I’ll add to the bed in the years ahead to create a mass of plants. Based on this year’s display, it will be worth the effort.

Lovely lilies

A small corner of the yard by my stone patio plays host to a desert rock garden. That’s a new type of gardening for me and one I’m expanding slowly. The star of that production is the mass of purple ice plants. They require little care once established and are in continual bloom for a lengthy run. The group creeps ever larger and will engulf the small hill next year, just the way I want it.

Ice plants are among my favorites

Daisies are a perennial favorite and I always have them in my garden. The gorgeous mounds of white star flowers create a grand visual attraction. The plants have grown to a great size that will enable me to divide them to enjoy even more flowers next year.

Almost every garden should have daisies

Even the thyme and sedum I have as groundcover around stepping stones are getting into the act. Their small flowers blast color at foot level. Like walking on a woven carpet, they add a vibrant element to the landscape.

Butterflies enjoy the groundcover

The penstemon flowers are just beginning to peek into view, but the hummingbirds have already discovered the early arrivals. Yesterday I watched a petite hummingbird sitting on the fence line just above the plants, patiently looking down as if to encourage them to come onto the stage.

It took a lot of work by me and many friends to break the sod, amend the soil, and plant the plants. Besides the ones I’ve mentioned, many other beautiful flowers have roles in the landscape. This season I’m able to sit back and enjoy the vivid visual fruits of last year’s labor. It’s a success story that once again proves how beneficial gardening can be.

I still have many gardening tasks before me in the weeks ahead and almost all of them center around the vegetable garden. It makes those tasks less of a chore when I can take a break and lean from the deck railing or sit on the patio and be surrounded by the colors of nature, colors that I had a hand in creating. The butterflies and birds enjoy the same theater. It makes me glad that I’m not a one-act gardener.

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4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Lori on July 29, 2011 at 3:55 pm

    It would be great for some advice on how to properly divide plants, especially lilies.

    Reply

  2. Enjoyed reading this, very good stuff, regards .

    Reply

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