Some digging, more plants

This summer has been so hot and dry, I haven't done as much planting as I had planned. Most of my beds are pretty full already, but I have lots of extra plants and there's almost always room to squeeze in more, right? This is especially true of newer beds that aren't living up to expectations.

Take for example the bed along my driveway. For years this was a strip of lawn, until last summer when I moved a bunch of potted plants out here and instantly created a nice border. Then in the fall I created a permanent planting bed and filled it with spring-flowering bulbs. After the tulips, daffodils, and other plants finished blooming this spring I planted lots of common flowering annuals, thinking that I'd move pots out here again to help fill in the bed if needed.


The annuals aren't doing as well as I had hoped, probably because the soil is still quite heavy here and not very rich. Plus I've pretty much run out of decorative pots, as I've used most of them in the back yard and I'm not keen on using black nursery pots in front of the house.

So I decided to add a second "row" of bigger plants in-ground behind the annuals. This just isn't doing anything for me as-is:

Rather than widen the entire bed, I decided to conserve my energy and just dig planting holes. I didn't have a good idea of how many holes I would need, but I knew it would be less work than digging up the whole length.

Digging a big hole is important here, because the soil is dry, hard clay. Much manure was added to each hole to provide organic matter and nutrients:

As I said I wanted to add bigger plants, so I started with castor bean:

I ended up adding five main plants: three Colocasia, a Senna alata, and a castor bean. All of these may get quite large, creating the "hedge" I am hoping for. The fact that I'm planting relatively late in the season may limit their size, but even if they each only get 3-4' tall or so -- which should be easy for these guys -- that will be a success.

I ended up jamming a few "smaller" plants in there too -- a cleome, a sunflower, Mexican petunia -- just to add some variety and more bloom potential as all of the larger plants I added are for foliage, not flowers.

It's not much to look at yet, but I'll let you know how things are going in another month or so. (It's actually quite lush in comparison to the blank slate wasteland that my neighbors have right now, isn't it?) In the meantime I'll keep fertilizing (with organic Milorganite) and watering, and hope I can get the annuals to wake up a bit too.

I may extend this bed a bit in the near future, as I wanted to put a papyrus in here somewhere, and a malabar spinach vine on a pole. I ran out of gas in the heat though, and decided those can wait for another day.

Hopefully a cooler day.


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Gerhard Bock (Succulents and More)  – (July 18, 2012 at 2:33 PM)  

Given enough water, these should explode if your heat continues. Can't wait for the update.

Patrick's Garden  – (July 18, 2012 at 5:30 PM)  

Hey man, Uncovered you vis Rhone Street. Have gardened in STL and can appreciate your dirt. Sounds like a great plan. Best

Anne McCormack  – (July 18, 2012 at 8:37 PM)  

I don't think you can miss with cleome. I've been fighting the heat in STL too, as well as fighting Bermuda grass in my front yard garden. Rough! Stay hydrated!

Renee  – (July 20, 2012 at 11:39 PM)  

I'm so jealous you can still plant new things! I really really want some castor bean plants in my garden, but that will probably have to wait until next spring... maybe I can germinate some seeds indoors before then. Your hedge will look so wonderful - I can't wait for the update.

Christine  – (July 21, 2012 at 4:42 PM)  

I love the castor bean plant - thats new to me!

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