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July 3, 2014

Last August, I built and planted the large raised bed that is intended to provide a sense of seclusion to the serenity garden by separating it from the clothesline area and the driveway (see Closure). I decided to keep the planting simple by including plants from only two genera, Geranium and Amsonia. Along what I think of as the “back edge,” facing the clothesline and driveway, I planted several divisions of G. x cantabrigiense ‘Biokovo’ (of which I always have a seemingly endless supply). These are fast-growing groundcover plants that will fill in along the edge of the raised bed, spill over the edge, and also spread to fill in among the other plants. In the center of the raised bed, I planted a row of three Amsonia hubrichtii; these should grow to be about 3’ tall and wide, which, when added to the height of the raised bed, will provide an effective visual screen. Along the side of the raised bed facing the serenity garden, I mixed plants of the dwarf Amsonia x ‘Blue Ice’ and G. x oxonianum.

raised bed  year1

raised bed pinks & bluesIn its first season, I’m very happy with how this new flower bed is looking. The primary focus here will be on foliage; Geranium ‘Biokovo’ has already established an impressive foliage presence along one side, and the other plants are also growing nicely. In late June and early July, this bed is at the height of its bloom, with a mix of soft pinks (Geranium) and blues (Amsonia).  Even in year one, this combination is already looking good.

raised bed tall giant1But, wait, what is this tall giant at the front corner of the raised bed, where a low-growing A. x ‘Blue Ice’ should be blooming? Oops! I think this may be a plant of Amsonia tabernaemontana. But what is it doing here? One possibility is that this plant was mislabeled at the nursery. (It does happen.) The other possibility is that it was sitting beside the ‘Blue Ice’ plants on the nursery table, and I failed to notice its different tag when I was busy trying to choose the five healthiest specimens of ‘Blue Ice.’ (Hmm. That’s been known to happen, too Winking smile .)

Whatever happened, it’s okay; this mistake may turn out to be another instance of serendipity. While this plant clearly doesn’t belong in its current location, I’m impressed with its height. I think I may move it to the center of the raised bed, where it can provide a large architectural presence flanked by the more feathery A. hubrichtii plants.  (The plant of A. hubrichtii currently in that location can be moved to another part of the garden). I can then divide the Amsonia  x ‘Blue Ice’ at the opposite corner in two and place half of it at this corner, creating the intended symmetry. When fall comes, I will make these and some other needed tweaks to this planting and then expect to be even happier with it next year.

18 Comments leave one →
  1. July 3, 2014 1:29 pm

    I’ve been known to do the very same thing, Jean. It’s great that you can make use of the “mistake.” Happy 4th!

    • July 11, 2014 2:02 pm

      Kris, Someone once told me that there are no mistakes in gardening, just opportunities. This seems to be one of those opportunities 🙂 .

  2. July 4, 2014 10:08 pm

    I have found that I have to be really careful at the nursery. It does not happen often, but it is not uncommon for carelessness in the nursery for me to end up with a bloom of a different color, or possibly the label was totally incorrect and I did not recognize the differences in the stage of a plant that was in a 4 inch pot. I have a white lilac in my garden that I love, but is not the lavender lilac that I thought I bought.

    • July 11, 2014 2:05 pm

      Charlie, I often buy plants while they are in bloom (even though that is not the best time to transplant them) just to avoid these problems. It is frustrating when you’ve carefully chosen a particular plant to go in a particular place for a particular reason, only to have it turn out not to be that plant.

  3. July 5, 2014 9:40 am

    Hi Jean, I don’t think I’ve bought any plants from garden centres or nurseries that were mis-labelled, I obviously have to buy more to increase my chances. Surprises often come because I forget what I planted where and almost never label seeds and plants, hoping to recognise them by position, size or flowering, it rarely works.

    • July 11, 2014 2:07 pm

      Sunil, I used to be scrupulous about labeling all the plants in my garden. In recent years, I’ve become much more relaxed about it, convinced that I’ll remember which individuals are planted where. And then I find myself asking, “Wait, is this variety x or variety y?”

  4. July 5, 2014 9:59 am

    I’ve done the same thing, too. Like you said, you really don’t know if it was mislabeled at the nursery by mistake or if you picked up a wrong one by mistake. What I think happens as well in a nursery is people take a tag out of a plant and then replace it in a different plant. But l agree with you , too, that sometimes mistakes are blessings in disguise.

    • July 11, 2014 2:09 pm

      Susan, I hadn’t thought about the way that other customers are the nursery might contribute to these errors; I’ve always blamed the nursery workers. Now I find myself thinking about all the times I’ve pulled a tag out of a plant to read it and then put it back; how many times did I put it back in the wrong plant?? It’s a good thing that many of these mistakes turn out to be opportunities. 🙂

  5. July 5, 2014 10:35 pm

    I bought a pot of daylilies that were supposed to be deep purple. Instead, they’re brick red but that’s ok. It was a fun surprise. Maybe your tall amsonia will become the muse for a new garden bed. 🙂

  6. July 6, 2014 9:14 pm

    Love how this bed is growing and what a great plant to showcase…those oops incidences seem to work out in the garden in wonderful ways!

    • July 11, 2014 2:12 pm

      Donna, I worry a little bit that this plant is not what I think it is, but just some gigantic weed! But if I move it to the central focal point of the bed and it turns out to be a mistake, I can always move it again. And, as you say, there is an opportunity here for a great improvement on my original design.

  7. July 7, 2014 7:03 am

    The little ‘oopsies’ can have the happiest consequences! 😉

    • July 11, 2014 2:13 pm

      Diane, I agree. And since I tend to be a bit over-controlling (understatement of the century! 😉 ), it’s good to have my plans upset by mother nature or nursery errors now and then.

  8. July 7, 2014 5:24 pm

    I love your raised bed, and the serendipitous acquisition of an additional plant may turn out to be inspirational for an even better plan than was intended. Happy summer!

    • July 11, 2014 2:15 pm

      Deb, That’s exactly what I’m thinking. I’m imagining this plant at the center of the bed and wondering, “Why didn’t I think to do that in the first place?” It is truly summer here (although the weather would probably count as spring-like by your standards).

  9. July 11, 2014 12:23 pm

    Jean, greetings from Cleveland! So happy I came across your blog. Your garden is beautiful. I can’t wait to read more posts. Cheers!

    • July 11, 2014 2:15 pm

      Kristin, Thanks for visiting and for leaving a comment. I hope we’ll hear from you again.

  10. July 12, 2014 2:18 am

    I have Amsonia ‘Blue Ice’, hubrichtii, and tabernaemontana. All are lovely and useful in the right spot.

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