Last weekend, I spent time going nose-to-nose with weeds in the large bed beneath the oak tree.
This bed is a hodgepodge, mumble-jumble of plants; some added by the previous owners and some plants I brought along from the old house last year and heeled-in here just to keep them alive for the summer.
As I dug out wild onions and Bermudagrass (or, as I think of it this time of year, ZOMBIE grass – it only LOOKS dead), I contemplated various ideas for this area. It’s prominent; everyone who drives to our home passes it. Half of it is hot and dry, bordering the concrete. The other half is a little shady in the summer, but still fairly dry with the tree roots taking the lion’s share of the available moisture.
I’ve learned the hard way to not dismiss or discount the tough growing conditions beneath a tree’s canopy. It may be shady, but there is stiff competition for moisture and nutrients and the tree usually wins (and it should.)
After glancing repeatedly at this one bright spot of cheerful blooms:
it occurred to me that I could devote this bed to bulbs. And not just spring bulbs, but a mix of spring, summer and fall bloomers. Interspersed with some easy-going pansies during the winter months, this bed could provide a bright spot of year-round blooms. Once the weeds were up, I took to pencil and paper and devised a planting scheme to create the illusion of a bed full of wave after wave of blooms, while giving everyone enough space to grow.
If you’re afraid of a grid scheme because you don’t want to create a “boxy,” marching formation look, keep in mind that perennials and bulbs don’t know they were planted on a grid pattern. They will naturally round out and spill over and rub shoulders with their neighbors. No regimented rows like you might see with annual bedding plants, especially if the blooms for each season are evenly distributed throughout the bed.
The nice part of this scheme is I can use some of the existing bulbs, and gradually add more throughout the year (daffodils and tulips will go in late fall.) All the other plants will be relocated to new beds where they will be a perfect fit, guaranteed. So here’s what I hope to have in the bed this summer:
And, finally, here’s what it should look like next spring: