...at the foot of a heat-reflecting, windowless brick wall has been the most persistent challenge in my garden.
I experiment with plants in all of the beds in the garden… but it seems as though I've done that more in this bed than in any other… for several reasons:
• The bed is shaded until about 1PM each day
• The heat reflecting off the brick façade can be daunting
• The area contains about 2-3 inches of topsoil spread on top of about 6 inches of subsoil that can best be described as "…perfect for brick-making……"
• An Austrian Pine with a 21 inch diameter trunk and a 31 foot crown stands 24 feet due west of the southwest corner of the home. It begins spreading shade on the south half of this flower bed at about 3:15PM. This means the south half of the bed only receives about 2 hours of direct sun each day.
There are two more pine trees west of this bed but they are further away and do not seem to interfere with good sunlight hitting the north half of the flower bed.
All of these factors have made plant selections an interesting, time-consuming process with some clear failures.
The only tagged items in the first photograph are plants that are still in the bed, in those locations. Everything else has changed.
The photographs are sequenced for the years 2016 - 2020 inclusive.
They don't really show up yet but three plants put in within two years will soon change what has been a very static foliage height. I really never paid attention... but all the plants look to be the same height. At least that is what you would think while driving or walking by the site. These three plants [a red-leafed Crape Myrtle, a Ural Falsespirea, and the yellow False Indigo] will give the bed some height it has never had. The 'Jazzberry Jam' Hibiscus at the south end of the bed will contribute to this newer look.
I would love to use a couple of David Austin's English Roses in this west-facing bed. In a far corner of the center we tried experimenting with a few of the varieties David Austin lists as shade tolerant... and we were very impressed with the results. A variety called 'The Poet's Wife' worked particularly well.
But in my corner of the property we had to remove four enormous 'Knock-Out' Roses from within 100 feet of my flower borders. All four were severely infested with Rose Rosette Disease. This disease has become a plague on roses in our area and we do not know how safe it is to plant them. So roses will not be part of this composition.
We'll just have to see what will come next.