My father is sick of reading about the sewer construction on my blog so I promised I would post something about flowers instead! I realized that it was almost a year ago that I installed and planted the path garden so it is time for an update. What worked and what was a big old failure?
This is how the front yard looked when I moved in December 2011. I wondered why the little front path ended abruptly in the middle of the lawn. Turns out that is where the property line ends and the rest is all public easement. D’oh! The sewer was going to go right through this garden but luckily plans changed and very little damage was done to this part of the yard. It is still all in the public right of way but it should be safe now.
Back in this post I described the process of creating the path(also here and here). Luckily I had help from Gabe and Victor. Those 2 X 2 concrete squares are so heavy I can barely lift one myself.
I finished planting on March 7th, 2012. The garden was basically an experiment to see what would thrive in just 2 or 3 inches of soil on top of several inches of decomposed granite. Not the best growing conditions.
Two months later and the garden was in bloom and looking pretty nice. For a full inventory of all the plants I used go here.
The picture above was taken today a year after being installed. It is looking pretty good (aside from the sand washing in from the sewer construction). Let’s talk about what worked and what didn’t.
Dianthus ‘Shooting Star’ worked pretty well. I lost one early on but I think that was just a fluke. I replaced it and the new one did fine. From a design point my only issue is that I planted these right next to Armeria maritima and they are the exact same color and overall shape. From a distance they looked the same.
Armeria maritima is of course the perfect sort of plant for this sort of garden. It is really tough in all sorts of climates and conditions. Here on the California coast it bloomed most of the year.
There is something about Thymus X citriodorus ‘Lime’ that just makes me happy. It is such a bright golden color. I did use it in a client’s garden and for some reason it failed but in my garden it has thrived and formed nice little clumps.
Thymus serpyllum ‘Coccineum’ is another winner. This red thyme has a creeping habit and spreads to form a nice mat. Probably better for walkway areas than the mounding thymes because it stays so flat. My only complaint is that weeds seem to love to go through it. Particularly little yellow flowered creeping Oxalis. You practically need tweezers to get it out.
Delosperma dyeri ‘Red Mountain’ is a great ice plant that is hardy to at least zone 5. One slight problem is that the quails love to eat it. The damage you see at the bottom is from quails nibbling on it. It is so vigorous that it doesn’t seem to do any long term damage and the plants fill back in quickly but it is something to consider if you have coveys of marauding quail coming through your yard.
Delosperma spalmanthoides is a cutie. Perhaps too small and delicate though. The leaves are almost microscopic and the flowers are pretty minuscule too. It needs careful placement to be seen and to avoid being swamped by more vigorous plants. It bloomed heavily for me in February but seems to bloom sporadically off and on all year.
Berlandiera lyrata is a cheerful little yellow daisy that smells like chocolate. It bloomed nicely all summer and lots of little seedlings came up this winter. I’ve potted up about a dozen of them. The thyme here is Thymus X citriodorus ‘Green Lemon’. It forms a nice lush green ball for most of the year but as you can see when it bloomed the whole plant turned deep purple.
Nepeta ‘Kit Kat’ gave me that beautiful blue-lavender catmint color on a small almost prostrate plant. Really nice here with Sesleria ‘Greenlee’s Hybrid’.
This beautiful little juniper leaved mounding thyme was sold to me as Thymus juniperifolius. I haven’t been able to confirm that this is the correct name though. Two other that are more likely are either or T. neicefferi or of T. neiceffii. I’m not sure which is correct but it is a gorgeous plant.
It is already getting ready to bloom in early March.
Now for some of the failures.
Chamaemelum nobile ‘Treneague’ is a dwarf flowerless chamomile. The smell is wonderful but this spot close to the street was a bit too sunny and dry. They prefer a damper shadier position so I moved them closer to the house where they are looking much nicer. Definitely worth growing just so you can squish them with your hands to release that sweet fragrance.
Lysimachia ‘Goldilocks’ was a complete disaster. Again it was too hot, dry, and sunny by the street. This was the best they looked all summer so I eventually tore them out.
Saxifraga ‘Pixie’ was really cute covered in tiny pink blooms but in the summer they started to go brown in their centers and very quickly were little dried out lumps. I will probably just repeat the Dianthus and Armeria combination from the other side of the path in the space they left.
Sedum dasyphyllum has really cute succulent foliage, right?
But then when it finishes blooming you are left with this hot mess. Ugh. Not cute AT ALL. It had to be sheared back almost to the ground and didn’t look nice again until the winter rains. If only it didn’t bloom it would be perfect. I think I will move this to a less visible location.
One plant I loved was Frankenia thymifolia. Think of it as a really lush vigorous thyme with little pink rose-like flowers and foliage that goes red when it is a bit stressed. I planted this along one of the edges of the mediterranean garden and 4″ pots quickly grew to over a foot across. This is the plant I decided to replace the chamomile and Lysimachia with at the front of the path.
Another plant I considered for the path was Phylla nodiflora which I had used along my driveway. As you can see above it has really sweet little Verbena-like flowers. But after a year of observation I’ve decided that it is basically a lawn weed, it doesn’t bloom long enough, and the foliage is a bit too rough. It could be nice in the right spot but it won’t work for my path garden.
The other succulents were also not terribly successful. Echeveria ‘Violet Queen’ hasn’t really blown me away. Sedum album ‘Murale’ started nicely but got really straggly this winter. It also blends in with the mulch so doesn’t really stand out in this spot. Geum ‘Mango Lassi’ bloomed beautifully for a few months but then faded away. I’m sure the shallow and poor quality soil had something to do with it but to be honest I lost all the Geums in my garden. I think I just didn’t water them as much as they would like. Uncinia uncinata ‘Rubra’ also withered away by the end of summer despite my attempts to keep it moist and Isotoma is still trying to hang on but can’t compete with Chrysanthemum paludosum and other annual seedlings that have been coming up.
Overall I am pretty happy with how the path turned out. A few tweaks and replacements for the weaker plants and I think it will look really nice this year.