A formal (or tidier) cottage raised bed?

zaphod42August 6, 2013

I've been moving my garden in the direction of traditional cottagesque design. I have this one spot that is driving me nuts. It is a 3x6 raised garden bed that I initially had different plans for. I keep throwing annuals in there hoping something works. Its in a part of the yard that is full sun, but due to location, is always the last place I get to tend. Its always messy chaotic looking (and not in a good way). I thought doing a formal pattern planting or just filling it with one type of plant might be a way to tidy it up a bit. My husband suggests lavender, but my husband thinks planting lavender will solve every garden problem.... I'm trying to decide best coarse of action. Should it be lower growing or broad leaved, etc.? Thoughts or ideas? Thanks!

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Have you considered catmint/Nepeta, Perovskia/Russian sage, Caryopteris/blue mist shrub, or Phlox paniculata/tall garden phlox? The list of full-sun/easy-care perennials goes on endlessly. For a variegated foliage plant I also have Persicaria virginiana/Virginia knotweed thriving in almost full sun.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2013 at 6:21AM
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eclecticcottage(6b wny)

Lol about the lavender. I love lavender, but I don't know that it's a good fix all. Plus it needs dead heading or cutting after the flowers dry up or it looks blah to me.

Is it bordered enough that a spreader will stay put?

Are you looking for all season color, or just a burst for summertime?

We have one bed (still to be made) that I want to just fill with wildflower seeds. It's in a place I'll never get to water and I just don't think I have time for another bed to fuss with. Have you considered just a seed mix? I'm thinking daisies (ox eye and shasta), echs, black eye susans, cosmos, zinnia, coreopsis and butterfly weed, maybe yarrow. I'd either make my own via seed packs or buy from a company that sells 100% seed (no fillers like the stuff at the box stores).

To me, a formal planting is only going to keep it on the "must maintain" list, and if you haven't had time to keep up on it as it is, I don't know that doing so will help your predeciment (then again, I've never had a formal garden so I can't say for sure, but they look like a lot of trimming, weeding and deadheading would be needed to keep it looking good).

    Bookmark   August 7, 2013 at 2:10PM
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docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)

Could we see a picture? What about planting a tree there, or a flowering shrub. If it's sunny, you could plant a flat of annuals each spring. Choose a different variety each year. Mulch around the plants to suppress weeds and conserve moisture. Use it as a cutting garden. D you like roses? Throw up a cheap trellis and plant a low maintenance climbing rose. All kinds of options.


    Bookmark   August 7, 2013 at 5:27PM
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I have tried using small shrubs and planting something that contrasts nicely about the same height next to them, planting heavily to "sink" the shrub into a bed. This does seem to reduce work and keep an area tidier. I have a Crimson Pigmy barberry that is hardy in your zone. I put lambs ears, daylilies in front of it, and white annual salvia, catmint, zinnias, tall ageratum around it. I've just started germander from seed this year and it's not yet in the garden but I hope to use it as a border on a ragged edged bed.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2013 at 10:15PM
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Ispahan Zone6a Chicago

I think it would be beautiful *and* easy to maintain if the space were planted with only one type of plant. Russian sage or mountain mint (Pycnanthemum sp.) would be relatively low maintenance, drought tolerant once established and would provide lots of nectar for pollinators. Or it could be planted with an ornamental grass...

    Bookmark   August 9, 2013 at 2:44PM
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