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Report From An Opinionated Gardener – June 7

I visited the Windmill Garden at Heritage Museums and Gardens today, making sure that this bed that I designed was doing well. I’m hoping to record a message that visitors to this garden can access by cell phone, so I wanted to take some photos and make notes in advance of creating such a cell tour guide.

As I plan what to say on this recording, I plan on telling the truth about the plants. While most of the perennials in this garden are low-maintenance and reliable, not all of them fall into this category. The Japanese Anemones, for example, self-seed like crazy and demand annual editing. In other words, you have to be willing to pull them out and throw them away. Ditto the lady’s mantle seedlings.

In the recorded tour I also plan to explain that the yarrow in this garden could spread or it might die. Achillea doesn’t do that well in well-amended soil, I’ve found, so it can be short-lived. Some cultivars are more tolerant, however, and these can more than double in size from year to year. In other words, you can be overrun or underwhelmed…neither can be considered low-maintenance growth.

Other perennials in this garden are, indeed low-maintenance plants. These include Geranium ‘Rozanne’, Nepeta ‘Six Hills Giant’, Stokesia, Actaea ‘Brunette’, Baptisia, Phlox ‘David’, Hemerocallis ‘Fairy Tale Pink’, Phlox ‘Blue Paradise’, Heuchera, and Hakonechloa ‘Aureola’.

Know that even as I write what I know to be true about these particular plants in this particular area, this may not be your experience. In other climates and soils what is a reliable plant for me might be finicky, fickle, or overly invasive for you. In the garden we need to remember that the differences between regions can be huge, and even what we know to be the same plant might behave completely differently from one garden to another.

When we tell the truth about plants, we’re speaking honestly, but only from our admittedly limited experience.

This garden contains mostly perennials, although in between those plants I placed Proven Winners annuals, and in the back are three Twist n' Shout Hydrangeas.

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