Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Spring Secrets for an Easy Care Garden - May GBBD

Through the years, I have discovered a few secrets that add beauty and interest to my spring garden. With so much in the garden, I do not always have time to give each plant individualized care, so I tend toward plants that are low maintenance. To gain beauty and easy care makes gardening a dream. These are some of the stars in my spring garden.

Plant shrubs that splash with bold and beautiful color in spring.

Azalea


These azaleas require little care and always please the eye come spring. I side-dress them with a little compost at the beginning of spring, and then supplement with coffee grounds later in the year. I may prune them a bit after flowering, but other than that I leave them alone. I do not know the variety of these azaleas. They were planted with the house when we moved in.




Azalea


Intermingle herbs with other blooming plants.

Chives - Allium schoenoprasum

I began adding herbs to the perennial beds a few years ago, and I have been very pleased with the outcome. Some herbs offer a gorgeous display of color in the spring and work well in the perennial bed. Most perennial herbs are very low maintenance and drought tolerant.

At first, I had all of the chives in the vegetable garden for companion planting, but they spread very far and wide. I divided them and placed them in several areas of the perennial beds. The spring bloom of pale purple adds a color I do not have much of in those beds. Chives is very easy to grow and is drought tolerant.

Chives - Allium schoenoprasum

Yarrow is another herb I added to the perennial bed. I have several varieties, and I just love the color and the varied foliage. After blooming in spring, they may bloom again after deadheading. In addition to the color they add to the spring garden, they add a delicate elegance of structure and form.

Yarrow 'Moonlight' - Achillea

Sage is another herb I have scattered about in my perennial beds. It has a very strong fragrance that I often touch as I pass, and the flowers are full of subtle color.

Common Garden Sage - Salvia officinalis

The ever lovely iris is a queen in the spring garden.

Iris 'Gypsy Geena'

Over the years I have added many varieties of iris in the garden. Friends and fellow gardeners have given me some of their lot, and they have naturally spread into little communities here and there. I have about 10 separate garden beds around the house, and irises are in almost every single one of them. There are many colors and combinations available, and they spread very easily and quickly. I keep the rhizomes covered with a bit of mulch to keep crickets from chewing on them. In early spring, I side-dress them with a bit of greensand.

Wild Iris

Plan and design for foliage color and contrast.

Japanese Maple - Acer palmatum 'Viridis' and Japanese Maple - Acer palmatum 'Sunset'

I am somewhat of a natural gardener. I plan the placement and the form of the beds very carefully, but many of the plantings in my garden beds have evolved over time with a little bit of this and a little bit of that. However, I did plan the placement of the Japanese Maples above to accent the colors of the foliage. It worked out very nicely, and I am happy with the contrasting colors.

What are some of the spring secrets in your garden?

I am joining Carol of May Dreams Gardens for Garden Bloggers Bloom Day.

© copyright 2013 Michelle A. Potter

85 comments:

  1. Our plants are also self supporting, thriving on neglect without attention. And the survivors are kept as mainstays, rain or shine! We don't have your plants but azaleas i now see here in some nurseries and garden shows. Maybe they are grown in the highlands and brought down when flowering. I love the color of your iris, different.

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    1. I love when they are self supporting...seems more natural. Thank you, Kalantikan.

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  2. Beautiful blooms and photography! I love your close-ups of the chives and yarrow-stunning!

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    1. They do seem to sparkle at this time of year, Lee. Thank you!

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  3. Lovely!
    I especially like the Azalea photos, and the Iris with water droplets - stunning!
    Happy Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day!
    Lea
    Lea's Menagerie

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    1. Thank you, Lea. There is so much happening in the garden now.

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  4. LOVE the quote at the top. And your pictures are gorgeous. I also plant lots of herbs between the flowers. My favorites are thyme and alliums...sometimes I also plant purple basil also. Another one of my tendencies is, while I do weed, I don't usually pull out clover or dandelion. They aren't on my personal weed list :)

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    1. Clover adds so much nitrogen to the soil, and I have come to love dandelions, too. Thank you, Nadia.

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  5. These photos are incredibly beautiful!

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  6. I'm all for gardening being easy and not a chore; it should be too enjoy rather than hard work. Choosing plants adapted to your soil and climate makes all the difference. Chives aren't especially drought tolerant for me but worth a place in the garden anyway, I love putting the broken up flowers on salads. Love the form of your yellow achillea, someone just gave me this one and I' can't wait to see it grow in my garden. ...and Iris, well.... I posted three times about them recently. Christina

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    1. I can tell you have a special place for iris. They certainly are the stars at this time of year. I never really paid them that much attention until I began growing them. Now, I cannot imagine how I left them out of my mind.

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  7. I agree about choosing easy maintenance plants, it makes gardening much more enjoyable. I have lots of chives and sage in the garden, although no irisis yet, I am looking to add some soon though. Your Japanese maples look gorgeous grouped together like that.

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    1. Thank you, Paula. The Japanese Maples seem to sing beauty. I am never disappointed.

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  8. Your garden is beautiful. I love the azaleas and the chives, they do add lovely color to the garden. Lovely images, have a happy day!

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    1. Thank you for those best wishes, Eileen. I hope you are having a wonderful summer, and I am so glad you stopped by for a visit.

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  9. I love the pohoto of the irises next to the bird bath - so charming. Can the chives be eaten, even after flowering - would they be fibrous at this stage?

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    1. When I want to eat them, I either clip the ones that are not in flower or I clip off the flower buds before they flower. The young shoots are usually the most tender.

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  10. Michelle, wonderful design with maples, their different colorful leaves go well with each other. I love this Achillea, I have one red, your yellow one is pretty.
    It's a great idea to add more herbs to the garden, I will try too.

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    1. Thank you very much, Nadezda. The Achillea are wonderful at this time of year. I keep meaning to add more of some other colors.

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  11. Your azaleas are beautiful! I really love the grouping of your Japanese maples. The color contrast is stunning.

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    1. Thank you, Beth. Japanese maples seem to offer such a variety of colors and textures...love that.

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  12. Oh I have enjoyed this post! I agree with you about chives and other herbs - I use purple sage all over the place as it is such a gorgeous ornamental plant. Chives are also a valuable addition to the ornamental border, although I have had a problem with over-exuberant seeding before now!

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    1. I am so glad you enjoyed it. Some of the herbs are attractive in winter as well, such as rosemary.

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  13. How lucky to get such beautiful azaleas with the house! And your maple combination is superb.

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    1. I have moved the azaleas around a bit since then, but they have been a nice addition to the garden.

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  14. Self-seeders are my secret for a low maintenance garden - it is surprising what pops up and often make wonderful combinations that I wouldn't have thought of.

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    1. I agree wholeheartedly, Elaine. Some of my yarrow self-seeded this past year and in just the right spot.

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  15. What a great idea to grow herbs like chives and sage in with perennials! I'm looking for some things to grow near roses and that might work well. Your azalea and iris are just beautiful. I just love the maple combo - and adding the juniper (?) or whatever evergreen that is nearby really makes it perfect.

    For me, peonies are the most rewarding low-maintenance plant. Stunning at their peak, nice looking foliage afterward, and really no maintenance whatsoever except a yearly feed with compost.

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    1. I have heard that chives planted near roses help with aphid control. I have not tried this, but it may be worth a try. Peonies are lovely, and many of mine are still in their youth. I look forward to that wonderful display.

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  16. Lovely photos, enjoyed your post. Spring secrets--I guess mine would be: "Mulch!" First it keeps the weeds at bay, then as it breaks down it feeds the plants. The gift that keeps on giving.

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    1. Mulch is something I could not do without either. It is a wonderful!

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  17. I totally agree with you about low maintenance gardening, if a plant doesn’t thrive in my garden because it needs more attention or fuzz, then it isn’t the right plant for my garden. Simple as that. My plants get a slow release fertiliser once a year and enough water (most of the time), I also try to keep the garden tidy and deadhead when I am well enough. That’s it really. I think over the years I have steered towards the type of plants that can tolerate this kind of treatment, but the best tip for getting low-maintenance plants is to grow them yourself. From seeds, cuttings, division etc makes no difference, but make them yourself rather them buying big, pampered nursery plants, that’s my best tip :-)

    Your photos are absolutely gorgeous as always, thanks for the tip about putting sage in between the perennials, haven’t really thought about that, will do it!

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    1. I agree, Helene. I have too much to do and don't have time to fuss with plants that need a lot of attention. That is not to say that I don't fuss with my plants, but there comes a time when they can handle themselves for the most part. Your tip is a good one....much better to grow your own plants from seeds, cuttings, and division.

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  18. I love easy, too. And I love the maple combination. With foliage that pretty, who needs blooms?

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    1. That corner needed something exciting, and I am glad I found what works best there. The Japanese maples work very well.

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  19. I like the idea of herbs in the flower beds. Chives are good forv edging, and I'd like to put fennel and dill among the taller plants. I grow a lot of anise hyssop,

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    1. I grow dill in the herb garden, but it has a very short life. It begins to bolt as soon as the hot weather arrives. Chives are wonderful as an edging.

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  20. I added chives to my garden last fall and I'm enjoying watching the buds swell each day. Since deer are such an issue in my garden I'm really hoping my chives spread as much as yours did. Your garden is so lovely, thank you for sharing your photos and tips on being low-maintenance.

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    1. It takes a few years, but they spread out nicely. Thank you for your visit.

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  21. Iris are creeping into my gardens also. The foliage contrast is cool.

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    1. Thank you, Greggo. Iris is something nice to have creeping in the garden.

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  22. I love the addition of herbs in the perennial beds. They add wonderful fragrance and texture and in my area are often evergreen as well. I've been adding more and more of them as I go. Your iris are beautiful! Mine are in full bloom as well, which seems a bit early, but it's been unseasonably warm where I am (Pacific Northwest). ~Angela~

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    1. I only have a few iris left that are blooming. I have enjoyed them. Hope yours are still blooming.

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  23. What a great idea for a post! The Japanese Maple combination is stunning--excellent selections! I interplant flowers (annuals and perennials), veggies, and herbs in my Potager garden. Companion planting makes a lot of sense. Beautiful photos in this post, as always.

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    1. I have always done the same in my veggie garden. I think as some of them spread out I needed a place to move them, and so they went into the perennial garden. So glad it worked.

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  24. Always good to have a few low maintenance stars in the garden. I think our plants should work as hard as we do :) Your close up of the iris Gypsy Geena is spectacular!

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    1. Your comment made me laugh, Rosemary. Thank you!

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  25. I can't think of any secrets here but I do have iris here and there. They are all abloom right now. Love your foliage photo at the end of this post. I have lots of shade here so foliage plays a big part in my garden. Happy GBBD.

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    1. That is a shady spot, and they love it. Thank you for the visit.

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  26. The combination of Japanese maples is beautiful! I'm in total agreement about low-maintenance--anything fussy won't make it in my garden, which is why I don't have tea roses. I can attest to the hardiness of chives--my husband has mown over it many times, and it still keeps coming back for more. As for yarrow--I have it growing everywhere, too, though I only planted it in one spot:)

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    1. The yarrow seems to be finicky as to where it will spread in my garden. I have it spreading in some areas and not in others.

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  27. Azaleas are incredibly useful in the garden aren't they. I have a few and are only just putting on buds. They should be in flower now but I've enjoyed your instead. I love your Acer combination.
    I like your tips for an easy care garden - worth listening too ;)
    Happy GBBD!

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    1. Thank you, Angie. The azaleas bloom for such a short time. I already miss them.

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  28. Beautiful photographs, Michelle. I love your color/texture in the maples too.

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  29. Michelle those J Maples are gorgeous...I love seeing what will be blooming in my garden soon...your pictures are so beautiful

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    1. Thank you, Donna. It has been a wonderful season. This spring has been such a nice slow emergence.

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  30. Really helpful post Michelle. One thing I need to do more of is plant shrubs. They add so much to a garden space as you note, providing structure and colour. I have a bad habit of picking up perennials though..

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    1. I am with you, Marguerite. I love perennials....there are so many to choose from.

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  31. I absolutely agree with every one of your points! I love scattering Chive seedheads around the garden...they add such a little splash of color wherever they come up.

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  32. Yarrow is a tough prairie plant and is especially a good perennial for nectaring bees in a window in the season where fewer plants are blooming (at least in its native range). I salute your garden choices!

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  33. My spring not-so-secret is wallflowers. I discovered them for the first time this year.Thanks for reminding me that I really need to get some chives for my garden.

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    1. I do not have any wallflowers...will have to try some.

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  34. Thanks for visiting my blog! Your photos are beautiful. I wish I could give you a few of my irises. I had one entire flowerbed filled with them when we bought the house, all the same kind. I don't know that they had ever been divided. Every year I move a more out of that bed and try to find space for them elsewhere....I would really like a variety, but I have more than I know what to do with as it is!

    I don't know that I have any special secrets--mostly I try to plant bulbs where the kids won't step on them (I'm thinking back slope here), and plant more bulbs every year.
    I like your idea of spreading herbs in my flower beds. Also, I saw on an earlier post your trellis over the garbage. What a great idea! Now I'm trying to figure out if I could rig up something similar. Our can doesn't tip over, but it does stink! :)

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    1. That sounds like a beautiful bed of irises. And I hope you find something to surround your garbage can with lots of sweet aromas.

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  35. Excellent advice! I think the biggest surprise in my spring garden is my ultra massive bleeding heart and the dark purple/blue clematis in my front garden. I have chives, too. They feel sweet and cheerful to me. :o)

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    1. I see chives as cheerful as well. My bleeding heart is small, but it is in a very shady spot. I look forward to that increase in size.

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  36. I have a similar philosophy about easy care, natural gardening. One thing I have learned in the new house from the gardener many years before me. Plant big, bold drifts of the same plant and let it be star of the show in the garden for awhile. Before, I think I tried too hard to have companion plantings of a few different plants in a small space that looked great together blooming at the same time. The former gardener planted masses of camellias, daffodils, azaleas, irises. I'm now waiting for the lilies.

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    1. I like your way of thinking...seems to make a great flower bed.

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  37. Very beautiful! I especially love the closeup of the iris. I've also planted an Acer viridis next to a dissectum 'Crimson Queen'. They contrast so beautifully next to each other. Your's are beautiful

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    1. Thank you, Deanne. I like when things I plan work out well.

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  38. Gorgeous photos, Michelle, and excellent advice.... a great place to start for beginners, and some gentle and wise reminders for us oldsters! Love that photo of the sage blossoms.

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    1. Thank you, Cathy and Steve. So nice to see you here again.

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  39. Beautiful photographs, as always, Donna! My spring secrets are the same as yours. My favorite -- replacing high maintenance perennials with easy-care shrubs. Haven't put chives in my flower beds though. I grow chives in large containers to stop them from taking over -- I'll place one of the (smaller) containers in my cottage garden now that the chives are starting to bloom. P. x

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    1. Those chives do spread, but mine have been polite and have not taken over the perennial bed. I may need to divide them in a year or two.

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  40. Very nice marcros! I especially love the chive up close. I am now at that phase in gardening.....if it's too much work, forget about it. Low maintenance plants all the way!

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    1. After all the planning and development of the garden beds, I have a lot to do without worrying about special needs plants. Seems we all get to that stage.

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  41. I am surprised no one has mentioned how well chives grow in the bog garden and in marshy badly drained ground. A common name is the marsh onion!

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    1. I do not have a lot of experience with a bog garden, so this is great advice, Roger.

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  42. I asked my son how to create a website (he has several) and he gave me his programmer type answer, monosyllible.
    So when I found your website have put if as 1 to try to learn from. Really like your size and color of type on dark background. Wondered how you first adjust photos and put a border around them.
    Since writing is not my favorite thing, will keep practicing that also.
    (my other son said brevity, context, required info.- maybe I could try humour)
    Really like your butterfly photos (I need a better camera). we dont have Luna's out here (West )
    Thanks
    Lynn D
    www.tangenty.blogspot.com

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  43. It seems you have done a great job. If you use blogger, it is all explained.

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'I see trees of green, red roses, too
I see 'em bloom for me and for you
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world'
--What a Wonderful World

Thank you for visiting The Sage Butterfly blog. I enjoy reading your charming reflections very much. Have a great day!

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