The horseshoe garden, at the foot of the deck, began as a small round flowerbed some ten years ago. I made the original bed using a no-dig method, layering newspaper, compost, peatmoss, and top soil. I placed a water fountain in the middle and planted catmint, daylilies, and mums for three season blooms. Later I added primula and sweet William.
|The original round flower bed at the foot of the deck.|
On a garden tour I saw a plant I had to have. One of the gardens we visited featured the beautiful gooseneck loosestrife, Lysimachia clethroides. When I saw the plant for sale at our local flea market, a few weeks later, I bought two. I planted one in the main cottage garden and one in the round bed. The bees and butterflies loved it.
|Gooseneck Loosestrife Lysimachia clethroides|
Gooseneck loosestrife is not invasive like its cousin, purple loosestrife, but never-the-less it is very aggressive. My new plant loved the compost-rich composition of the round bed and eventually it crowded out everything else planted there.
Two years ago, I moved the catmint into the cottage garden. The mum died, leaving the daylilies, primula and sweet William. Subsequent years, I became tired of pulling out loosestrife each spring from around these remaining plants. I found it impossible to remove gooseneck loosestrife's deep strong roots, so just pulled off the tops. Last spring, I had enough. When the loosestrife appeared, I saw it was even more pervasive and decided to remove it and rework the bed. I took away the rock surrounding the bed, placed the daylilies, primula and sweet William on one side in pots, and called my helper, Mike, who has a backhoe. It took Mike and two other men, plus the backhoe, several hours to remove all those roots.
They took out three wheelbarrow loads of the offending plants plus roots. I put the vegetation in black garbage bags, which H.H. placed in a sunny spot at the edge of the top field. I wanted to be sure the plants would die and not spread through the corn field.
Now I could begin from scratch and this was the perfect opportunity to expand the area. Again using the lasagna method, I built a new bed taking it all the way up to the porch trellis. This solved another problem: The path between the round bed and the deck was too narrow for a lawnmower, and the foundation bed was too small for the clematis and grape.
|The path between the round bed and deck was attractive but impractical.|
The left side of the horseshoe garden is in dappled shade and the right side has part sun, with full sun in the top right corner. I listed plants for each of these conditions, focusing on native plants. I split up the sweet William and planted it along the front edge, placing the primroses at the back. I put the daylilies on the right side where they would get more sun. I added native plants: hydrangea, ladies mantle, giant blue lobelia, and bearded iris. Also, I planted a hosta and a hellebore. A friend gave me some rose campion from her garden.
|Sweet William Dianthus barbatus|
|Sweet William along the front edge.|
|Mophead Hydrangea, Hydrangea macrophylla 'Perfection'|
|Lady's mantle Alchemilla mollis 'Thriller'|
|Giant Blue Lobelia Lobelia siphilitica|
Rose Campion Lychnis coronaria
|Iris Iris germanica|
Finally, I added snapdragons that H.H. had grown from seed. They were my best bloomers, blooming through the first frosts.
I snaked a soaker hose around the plants and covered it with a layer of mulch.
I am still growing gooseneck loosestrife in the cottage garden area where the soil is less rich, so it has not been so invasive. When I give my beds a top dressing of compost in the spring, I am careful to avoid this aggressive grower.
|Gooseneck loosestrife in the cottage garden.|
Did you make any big changes in 2014 or plan one for 2015? I'm pleased with the Horseshoe Garden and look forward to following its progress as the plants fill out.
|The finished Horseshoe Garden welcomes you to our home.|
Happy Gardening! Happy 2015!
|Sign in the Horseshoe Garden|
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