Extending garden - Knowledgebase Question

Bloomington, Mi
Question by cedarblad
April 4, 2009
We have a small berm garden in our front yard surrounded by grass. I would like to expand it using more shrubs and perennials. This area gets a fair amount of sun with the exception of a slow -growing red maple (now about 9 years old.) I need help with a plan. Thank you so much. Merrilyn Cedarblade

Answer from NGA
April 4, 2009


The backbone of the traditional perennial border is made up of full sun perennials. They spring from the ground to give us the textures and shapes (not to mention the colours and fragrances) that make our gardens and dreams reality. Full sun perennials really appreciate soils with high organic matter content. In my garden, I mulch the soil and this decomposing mulch adds organic matter. I also throw compost over the top of the plants each fall and spring (right on top of the mulch - it sinks down pretty quickly) to feed and nourish the soil. High organic content in soils is a key to building a great perennial garden. Some popular plant to consider: Ornamental Onions or Alliums are one of the easiest full sun perennials to grow and even though they are technically a bulb, they deserve a place in the early summer perennial border. Monkshood or Aconitum is a wonderful plant for full sun or light shade and I particularly like the old-fashioned bicolor form. The fall blooming varieties bring fantastic blue shades to the fall garden. Coneflower or Echinacea is a sun loving beauty! Peonies are one of the superb classic perennial flowers and I'll tell you how to quickly and easily stake them so you can't see the stakes. Hollyhocks are one of the stateliest and easiest of self-sowing perennials. Here's how to grow and enjoy those blooms. Coreopsis or Butter Daisy is one of the longest blooming plants in our garden Beebalm or Monarda is on my easy-to-grow list. A favorite tea of mine - Earl Grey - is flavored with this garden plant. Lavender is an aphrodisiac- that this is entirely true as this article points out. Lavatera is a tall, shrubby perennial that produces scads of pink flowers and is a good plant for the back of the border. It will take a bit of shade too so that makes it even more versatile. Mountain Bluet, Bachelor Buttons or Centaurea produces an early summer show of magnificently blue flowers. Shasta Daisy is the perfect long-blooming plant for beginners to start growing. This plant is easy to grow and if deadheaded, it will bloom for a long time. Poppies are a visually exciting garden perennial. Their bright colors scream across the garden and here's how to grow them. Black Eyed Susan or Rudbeckia family of plants. These are North American natives and fill our fall gardens with those wonderful yellows we associate with fall. Baby's Breath would come very close to being the most essential plant for every garden . Bellis or English Daisy is a charmer. This dainty flowering plant is considered a mixed blessing. In cold climates, it flowers as a biennial giving us scads of spring daisies. In warmer climates, it can escape from the garden into lawns and other areas. Hope this short list gives you some ideas. Enjoy your extended garden!

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