We also planted Siberian iris and used English lavender, plus catmint and ladies mantle as edgers. Clematis vines scrambled over two tuteurs painted muscari blue. (My husband took actual muscari flowers to the paint store to get them color-matched.)In mid- to late-summer, the palette turned from pastels to warmer colors with ‘Zagreb’ threadleaf coreopsis and Rudbeckia ‘Goldsturm’ and purple coneflower.
Unlike other parts of our garden which are dominated by ornamental grasses, here, I used them sparingly as accent plants: a Miscanthus ‘Morning Light’ in each of the front two squares.
However, the inner corner of each square featured a tall moor grass (Molinia arundinacea ‘Skyracer’), which was stunning in fall as its arching flower stems embraced the limestone sundial, which my husband John carved as a garden focal point.
The sundial base is a replica from English design of 1670, and it took him three years to learn the carving techniques to create and finish it. (The making of the sundial base will be the subject of another upcoming post.)So why did all that have to go? Well, no garden stands still, plants grow and some get out of control. Some of the perennials and the moor grass were self-seeding excessively. The Goldstrum rudbeckias proved too vigorous for the space. Nasty crown vetch weed had invaded one square and had imbedded itself around peony roots. Previous attempts to tame the garden – we removed the worst self-seeders, plants like catmint and Knautia macedonica – helped, but the changes weren’t enough to tame the workload. The four-square garden had become the most labor-intensive of all my planted areas
The paths in particular required regular attention: every manner of weed and perennial seemed to germinate enthusiastically in the gravel. For several years, I hemmed and hawed about doing anything drastic.
Renovating the garden to radically simplify it would be a herculean job. Every bulb and perennial would have to be dug out – a job that I, now a decade older and plagued with repetitive strain injuries, could never imagine doing myself.