Completely ignoring the fact that I don't live in Italy, I find it highly irritating that my front yard doesn't resemble the gardens at Ninfa.
Last January I decided to deepen the beds in the front and stuff them with bulbs. With winter on hiatus, I took advantage of a bulb sale at a local garden center and packed the bed with 260 daffodils and Dutch iris. The bulbs came up late and bloomed at strange times but were more cheerful than a long bed of nothing.
You'll have to take my word for it that this bed is full of bulbs since I forgot to take a picture of them.
To fill in the long empty bed once the bulbs were done blooming, I filled it with annual vinca and lantana. I had also added orange milkweed and dalea to the bed last fall to see how well they would do.
The lantana attracted pollinators but the vinca didn't. However, I loved how colorful and cheap it was.
This bed didn't fill in until the middle of July, which was really frustrating. A cool, wet spring kept the vinca plants small and the constant rain turned many yellow. For about 6 weeks this bed was full of dying bulb foliage and tiny plants. It looked pathetic and drove me crazy!
Orange milkweed, host plant for monarch butterfly caterpillars, thrive in the hot, dry soil.
There are stepping stones tucked between the plants since we always take a shortcut across the garden instead of using the walkway.
Dalea is a native prairie wildflower that grows well in heat and drought.
I loved the way this bed looked once it filled in but wanted to fill it with perennials that would grow as the bulb foliage died, covering it up.
Taking my cues from the healthy milkweed and dalea, I decided to turn this strip into a butterfly garden. I pulled out all the annuals and added 'Carradonna' salvia, 'Rose Queen' salvia, 'Star Cluster' coreopsis, nepeta, 'Sunshine Superman' coreopsis, and more orange milkweed and dalea. I've linked the pictures to the nurseries I purchased them from.
'Sunshine Superman' coreopsis seedlings came from the garden.
Nepeta seedlings, variety unknown, came from the garden, too. Nepeta has soft greyish leaves and small purple flowers. It grows well in enriched garden soil as well as dry soil and loves full sun. Both of these pictures are from late Spring 2012.
I actually purchased these locally in August for only $5 a pot and have been babysitting them for the past two months.
According to the Bluestone Perennials website, these flowers develop a purple eye and a purple edge in cool weather.
I planted all the perennials today. The green sticks mark all the fall blooming bulbs that have started to grow but haven't popped through the mulch yet. They also mark places where I planted dormant orange milkweed. The nepeta seedlings were planted near the light post. They look a bit wretched right now but have healthy roots and new growth. The 'Star Cluster' coreopsis is in the middle of the bed, with the salvias in groups along the edges.
There are two clumps of orange milkweed at each end of the garden next to the large main group of 'Star cluster' coreopsis. Salvia, coreopsis, dalea, milkweed, and nepeta are all tough, drought resistant plants that attract pollinators. I'm sure I'll need to tweak this bed a bit next fall but I'm excited to have tough plants in place to cover up all the bulb foliage. If it snows this winter, we can pile up the snow from the walkway over the perennials without having to worry about smashing any shrubs.
This bed is about 15 ft long and 5 feet deep. It faces east and receives full sun until mid-afternoon.
Salvia 'Carradonna' - 12
Salvia 'Rose Queen' - 10
Orange milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa) - 10 new plants
Coreopsis 'Star Cluster' - 5
Coreopsis 'Sunshine Superman' seedlings - 3
Dalea seedlings - 5
Nepeta seedlings - 2