The Q&A Archives: Victorian Garden

Question: I'd like to create a Victorian garden at the base of a retaining wall. I'd like to include hollyhocks and other heirloom plants as well as integrating my veggies into the same area. What plants do you recommend for an area that has high temps and low rainfall in the summer, and very low temps but good moisture in the winter? I'd like to use a lot of perennials if possible.

Answer: Perusing a copy of Rocky Mountain Gardener Magazine, I came across an article on shrub roses written by Dr. Wm. Campbell, owner of the High Country Rosarium (1717 Downing St., Denver, CO 80218). His catalog of over 400 hardy roses is a good place to start, since I can think of no Victorian garden that would lack roses! Another issue features hollyhocks and mallows that are drought tolerant and hardy. (Obviously, this magazine is filled with info for YOU - your library may have a subscription, but in case you want one for yourself, here's their address: Westwind Publishing, PO Box 18537, Boulder, CO 80308, ph# 303/499-3228, website

Other Victorian musts that are drought-tolerant and hardy: lupines, liatris, stonecrop, evening primrose, phlox, achillea (look for the variety 'Victorian Shades'), Verbascum 'Southern Charm', Shasta Daisy, Peonies, Alyssum 'Basket of Gold', Daylily (tall ones in lemony shades). You'll increase the success of all your Victorian beauties if you first build soil deeply with with compost, leaf mold, etc., to ensure good moisture retention and adequate drainage, and make sure the soil pH is slightly acidic (6.0-6.5), which your veggies will also appreciate. Enjoy!

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