Planning for a Showing.

AKA: How to notice problem areas and figure out ways to fix them in a hurry.

We offered up our garden this year to our Garden Club. As in we finally said it was a green light for them to come visit (socially distanced and with masks, of course) during our summer garden tours.

The tour date is just shy of a month from now. Let me tell you that the single fastest way to see all of your garden’s flaws is to agree to have a bevy of other gardeners come see it.

Aside from some of the newer areas that just aren’t as lush yet because they are so young (and there’s nothing to be done about it that’s within my control) most of the garden feels reasonably ready for visitors. BUT, there are of course a few spots that have me in a bit of a panic and in need of quick re-thinks or replacements.

The Cee Garden, the garden full of reds, fuschias, and pinks is just west of the Veg Garden. It has always been intended to be loosely symmetrical and with the seating area sunken down, its been fun to play with levels and heights of plants.

The biggest current problem is the giant blank space at the front of this section of the garden (see below).

This (below) is the mirrored side and you can see that out of the numerous Coral Bells ‘Firefly” planted, only one is thriving and there are dry, brown carcasses littering the area. It makes absolutely zero sense that these plants died, they were happy as could be for 3 years, but alas they are gone.

The question then becomes what to do in these areas. I’m not going to try to repeat any type of Coral Bell, but I do want something with bigger foliage. So much of what thrives in full-sun situations have small leaves, so what does that leave me with?

I’ve toyed with the idea of putting in some red-stalked rhubarb in here as they would serve that Big Leaf Energy and the colorful stalks would play into the color scheme, but I’ll confess to not being totally sold on the idea. I’ll also confess to not having a whole lot of other ideas. Maybe a smaller shrub or a cluster of smaller shrubs? I don’t know and I’m going to have to rely on whatever I can find at our local nurseries.

The second area in the Cee garden is at its south end. The Monarda at the back is coming along nicely, but the front used to have lupines that have slowly weeded themselves out. This area is tricky because it is fundamentally dry, but it is a huge sink for water during big storms and during the spring melt. Much of the water that sheets off the patio and Dry Gardens runs downhill and settles in this area. So whatever it is has to be able to cope with some soggy conditions on occasion… and yet again I’m not quite sure what will work here.

The other areas of ‘concern’ are up in the Dry Garden. This area below had a bit of a rethink this spring and I’m really excited to see where it is in a few years. But for now, its feeling a bit barren. I’m unsure if some annuals is the answer to popping this space or if there is something else I can add in while the baby perennials get their sea legs.

Most glaringly obvious though is the damned retaining wall.

My exceptionally handy brother in law has promised to come out to help us rebuild the wall in time for the tour, but what to do with that big space created by all that leftover dirt? I may go the easy route and plop in another apricot or mauve daylily because they are happy in this space and will give me loads of flowers.

The Potager got decimated by the damned rabbits so its looking very barren and uninteresting, but I think I can resuscitate it with some annuals for the short term. Again, whatever I can get at our local greenhouses.

I’m sure every gardener in my shoes feels the same way. And I’m sure I’m far more critical of our space than our delightful and kind Garden Club members would ever be. But you can’t help but want to put on a good show.

So, now its your turn to chime in with any brilliant ideas or plant suggestions! Remember, full sun for everything! Help me out!

9 thoughts on “Planning for a Showing.”

  1. Where the coral bells used to be–would it work to put seating there, like a small cafe table and two chairs? Or even a single chair, maybe with a pot on it? Or instead of a chair, a really big pot filled with annuals or even perennials (Sams Club has 24″ pots for a reasonable price). In the Dry Garden, another pot or perhaps some sort of garden art, bird bath, sundial etc. Good luck on plant shopping. Our greenhouses and garden centers have been picked clean. A very good year for them after a slow start. Everyone that’s staying home is gardening, it seems.

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    1. Hi! Thanks for the suggestion- that area has a sunken seating area so all of the beds are, effectively, raised beds. The garden art is a super suggestion for a number of those problem areas so I’m going to have a good look around and see what I can find. Thanks again!

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  2. If the dark carcasses weren’t there, and just the tidy stone instead it would look fine. Having had a farm with display gardens for 40 years, I learned that as long as the mowing was done, the edges tidy and the deadheading done most people were satisfied and just happy to see some blooms. Also, I used old roofing slates and painted the “name of the garden” or a gardening quote that pertained to the garden theme, etc. and put them in “empty” areas. They could be moved around to draw the eye away from a current visual “blah” area, too. Sometimes just a sign saying that the area was “filled with colorful blooming bulbs in spring, come back then to see them!” Just an idea…

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    1. Those are all such wonderful suggestions- thank you!!!! I’m going to use the sign idea for sure and the carcasses will come out this weekend so its a relief to know if I can’t find some replacement plants I’ll be okay anyway- thanks again! So much!

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  3. I was going to add that suggestion too- ensure it’s perfectly manicured: weeded, edged, etc. and no one would notice the thinner parts. It’s The same concept as to why someone with perfectly styled hair can look great in a schlubby tshirt and someone with messy hair looks homeless in the same shirt. I look homeless a lot, methinks… but at least the garden weeding is done!

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  4. My experience has been the visitors always focus on the positive–like the one plant you do nothing to and it puts on a great display because it’s the one plant they can’t grow. Don’t be too hard on yourself!

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