Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Plant Failure to Success - Part I

Earlier in May I challenged myself to design and install three new planting beds that had failed my expectations to grow and perform well in our landscape. No doubt you can relate, most gardeners have had plants crash or disappoint. Looking back, when the plants first went in I dreamed about them looking like the perfect field of flowers blanketing the entrance to the Emerald City, you know... where the great and powerful Oz lived. I wonder if he pitched in and did any deadheading on his day's off, but I digress. 

Before you read too far, this blog will be Part I, so please check back soon for the "ta dah" completed beds.

If you want to check out the full "before" story before reading further, click on this link - plant failer. You'll see a pathetic before picture that I just can't bring myself to re-post again.

In a few words, the beds turned out very nicely, not perfect, but a fine start, it has the making of "good bones" as they say. 

I could write paragraphs about the torture and turmoil I endured preparing the soil and working out in the hot sun, but you know that's a given. In fact we did have a very hot summer and CO soils just ain't nice to work in, they've got all that sticky clay in there.

I did most of the manual work of bed prep and transplanting some of the herbs in early morning or evening when the areas were shaded. The best part was that I didn't need to hit the gym on a regular basis during the root pulling weeks - my arms, back and legs were getting in shape, almost buff, okay that's an exaggeration. The body parts that hurt the most were my hands from all the root pulling (yes, I wore gloves). I was tempted to go to a manicure shop and request one of those warm wax coating treatments just to see if they'd feel better deep down. I didn't go, I just opted to push through, using arnica cream at night minutes before my tired head hit the pillow.

The soil wasn't really all that bad since they had been prepped five years prior when the new landscape went in. But I added several bags of expanded shale to further break up the clay soil and improve drainage. I also added some compost from my pile and a few bags of locally made amendment, but not too much, the plants going in needed excellent drainage not high fertility. 

Shopping for new plants was fun, sort of. I had to hit several places to complete the list from my plan and I still have some holes because some plants just weren't available or sold out. That's why there's always next year, right fellow gardeners!

The plan - the former herb area became a pollinator bed consisting of mainly Plant Select® plants while the former rose bed became the new herb bed. I kept some open real estate in the herb bed to pop in some annual vegetables or more herbs.

Here is one group of plants after some garden center power shopping in mid-June. I tried to purchase mainly four-inch pots over one gallon size, smaller ones are so much easier to plant and they catch up quickly in growth and size.

Below is the mostly empty pollinator bed, I kept a large lavender and sage plant, I knew they wouldn't transplant well to the new herb bed. It isn't that large an area, about 13' x 13'.

Plant Select® plants never disappoint!

End of Part I, please check back soon!

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