Skip to content

Star Turn

July 11, 2014

back garden from deckMy back garden is composed of three separate flower beds: the deck border, the blue and yellow border, and the fence border. These flower beds create a unified whole, but each also has its own distinct character. I often think of them as like an ensemble acting troupe. This is not a garden in which one flower bed is the star or focal point and the others are supporting players; rather, each is in the starring role at some points in the season and in a supporting role at other times.

Well, to be honest, the blue and yellow border may hog the spotlight a bit more than the other players in this ensemble. It is the largest flower bed of the three, and its big, bold blooms and contrasting colors demand attention. But in early July, when the iris display of June has ended and the daylily, delphinium, coreopsis and heliopsis blooms of high summer are just tentatively opening their first flowers, the deck border takes its star turn.

deck border star turn

The deck border has a much quieter kind of beauty than either the blue and yellow border or the fence border. It was designed primarily as a shade garden, with an emphasis on layers of foliage in different colors, sizes, and textures. And while it also has lots of flowers, those flowers have a quiet analogous color scheme in soft pastels of pink, lavender and white.

pink spirea bloomsBut this quiet floral display  wows me at this time of year. The deck border steps forward into the spotlight when masses of deep pink flowers appear on Spirea japonica ‘Magic Carpet’. As these fade to a softer mauve, varieties of Astilbe begin to bloom – white ‘Bridal Veil,’ mauve  ‘Cattleya,’ pale pink ‘Betsy Cuperus,’ and salmon pink ‘Ostrich Plume.’ These join the clear pink flowers of Geranium x oxonianum and the deep pink and white of Tradescantia ‘Pink Chablis’.  Above it all float the airy plumes of Aruncus dioicus (goatsbeard).

astilbe blooms 2014 pink chablis 2013
goatsbeard display

The deck border will continue to flower through the summer and into the fall, with later blooming astilbes, several varieties of pink daylilies (Hemerocallis), pale pink balloon flowers (Platycodon grandiflorus), and Sedum spectabile ‘Autumn Joy.’ Once the daylily display begins in earnest, however, the eye will be more often drawn to the more dramatic blooms of the blue and yellow border and the fence border, and the deck border will step back into a lush but less flamboyant supporting role.

21 Comments leave one →
  1. July 11, 2014 4:21 pm

    All three gardens look lovely. I have that same spirea and I do love those pink blooms.

    • July 17, 2014 7:59 pm

      Judy, I love the spirea, too. Right now, I have it in two places, and I have a piece of it growing in a pot that I plan to include in the new front garden. I’ll probably put more than one in the front garden; mine sucker quite a bit, so it’s easy to get new divisions to put elsewhere.

  2. July 11, 2014 11:57 pm

    I think gardens in which plants or collections of plants take turns as star performers have a peaceful quality. Your garden pictures always convey that sense of peace and harmony. I can’t say that the plants in my own garden have accepted that kind of relationship as yet but it’s something I wish to create – if only I can train myself to stop grabbing up every pretty new thing I see at the nursery.

    • July 17, 2014 8:01 pm

      Kris, This is an interesting observation. I don’t think I consciously designed this garden to be peaceful — but there’s a lot of emphasis on foliage in plants that are not in bloom for much of the season, and I think that focus on foliage creates a sense of tranquility.

  3. July 12, 2014 8:40 am

    I’d so agree with Kris above – the pictures of your garden (the deck border looks superb at the moment, by the way) always have great peace and tranquillity. Just what a garden should do for us – I suspect a reflection of you, Jean?

    • July 17, 2014 8:04 pm

      Cathy, I don’t know that people would describe me as either peaceful or tranquil; I’m too voluble for that. 🙂 But I do tend to be cheerful and equable. If these qualities reflect me, it’s because I think of the garden as a place of relaxation, and peace and tranquility are what I look for in a relaxing setting.

  4. July 12, 2014 4:24 pm

    going to be wonderful for you, Jean, to watch the changes unfolding week by week, in peace and tranquility.

    • July 17, 2014 8:07 pm

      Diana, With all the construction going on at my house, it isn’t exactly tranquil. But I am still managing to carve out some relaxation time each day, and I usually spend that time in the back garden, which is on the opposite side of the house from all the noise and chaos.

      • July 18, 2014 5:14 pm

        that – renovation chaos – is still ahead of us. Keep reminding myself, it WILL be worth it, once it eventually starts to happen.

  5. July 13, 2014 9:53 am

    Jean, It’s a pleasure to view your gardens and see how they have grown up over the years. It sounds like you are really enjoying your Maine summer.

    • July 17, 2014 8:08 pm

      Joene, For the first time in years, we are having classic Maine summer weather — and I am very much enjoying it.

  6. July 13, 2014 3:11 pm

    I love that each bed has a distinct personality and shines on its own and as part of the whole…I look for that in mine too but not quite there yet.

    • July 17, 2014 8:10 pm

      Donna, Figuring out how to create that blend of continuity and distinctiveness has been a fun learning curve for me. I hadn’t figured it out when I created the first flower beds at the front of the house — which is why that part of the garden never had any sense of coherence. Happily, I can take the lessons I learned in the back and apply them to my design for the new front garden.

  7. July 14, 2014 12:08 am

    The goatsbeard gives such a nice effect. This really is a great time to be out enjoying the garden, but it’s nice to hear you have so much still waiting in the wings to carry on the show.

    • July 17, 2014 8:12 pm

      Bittster, I love the goatsbeard. Because it always seems to rain as soon as it blooms, I have to stake it to keep it reasonably upright and floating above the other flowers that way.

  8. July 14, 2014 8:26 am

    Absolutely tranquil! Enjoy every minute of it.

  9. July 14, 2014 7:43 pm

    Very nice–and the plantings, so well thought out, have arrived at a beautiful maturity.

    • July 17, 2014 8:15 pm

      Adrian, I was surprised to realize this year that both the deck border and the blue and yellow border are now more than 10 years old! And I do enjoy the mature look of the garden at this point.

  10. July 16, 2014 9:08 pm

    Jean, I really like how you’ve created small gardens that each take their ‘turn’ at being the star. I read about this some time ago, rather than mix plants that bloom all through the summer you create a border that blooms in a specific timeframe. You’ve done this beautifully and I think it creates a greater effect than spreading all the plants out.

    • July 17, 2014 8:17 pm

      Marguerite, All of these flower beds have something in bloom at any given time from late may or early June until frost; what changes is where the preponderance of blooms are and where your attention is drawn first.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: