The Side Perennial Garden

Side Perennial Garden early spring


     This year has just flown by and here it is November, and I have not posted about what I call the side perennial garden.  I have included photos of this garden from spring through fall in this post.  This garden has been a problem for me.  There were so many plants I was going to pull and put in something new, but I never did that.  I just couldn't decide what replacements I wanted.  So I just left it to bloom although I am not happy with it.  And then a rabbit did a lot of damage to it in the spring, chewing on the perennials as they came up and killing the cosmos I planted from seed. This photo was taken March 9.

Here is a photo of the back of the garden taken on March 9.

A photo of the jonquils blooming taken on March 12

Front of garden June 1.

          In this photo there are two rose bushes, midnight salvia, black-eyed Susans and phlox David  behind the pink rose bush, and yellow loosestrife is in front of the lattice fence my husband put around the A/C unit.

This is a close-up of the yellow loosestrife  taken June 1.

Back of perennial garden June 1.

     In the back of the garden behind the A/C unit are bergenia plants along the front with  pink astilbe right behind them.  Behind the astilbe there are two rose bushes, phlox David and hardy begonia emerging, and back in the corner some ferns I took from the wooded flood plain next to the house and planted here.

Front of Garden August 7.

     In August the black-eyed Susan plants and phlox David are in full bloom, as well as yellow coneflowers.  I added some blanket flowers in the front, and you can see zinnias emerging in front of the black-eyed Susans.

Back of garden Augsust 7.

     In the back of the garden, the astilbes are done, the phlox in the top corner is blooming and the hardy begonia will be blooming soon.

Hardy begonias

     The hardy begonias are finally in bloom in the back of the perennial garden.  The phlox is still blooming but the ferns are dying off.  In the next post I will share some late fall blooms and what bloomed along the front of the house this summer.

Fall Blooms

     I have several plants blooming now that we are getting into the fall season.  A lot of the plants that are blooming are in my backyard garden.  I have five loriope plants at each end of my long backyard garden.

hardy cyclamen
     There are two areas in the backyard garden where hardy cyclamen were planted years ago, and they still come up.

black cohosh
     I planted five black cohosh at intervals along the backyard fence, and this is one of two that has a bud.  This bud has been sitting there for a couple of weeks.  None of the black cohosh plants seem to be doing well.  They are not happy in this location. I don't know whether this flower spike is going to grow taller (they can get up to eight feet tall) or open.

white encore azalea
     This is the only encore azalea that has fall blooms on it.  There are four more encore azaleas in the yard that look full and lush but have no buds.  This rather skimpy looking one is the only one flowering.

hardy begonia
       There are several hardy begonia plants in the side perennial garden and this is one of them.  There are also hardy begonia plants at each end of the backyard garden.

       I planted two gaillardia plants in the side garden to fill in some bare spots.  With their fall colors, they brighten any garden area.

Japanese anemone
     There was a large stand of Japanese anemones in the backyard garden years ago.  I was surprised to find that there were two clumps left hidden beneath the nandina bushes.  I have mums and other flowers blooming along the front of the house and in the perennial garden.  I hope to post photos of them next.

Vacation Blooms

Hosta Fragrant Blue

  When I returned from summer vacation, I checked the yard and only a few plants had bloomed.  Hosta Fragrant Blue had spikes of white flowers.  I was anxious to find out if I could detect a fragance, as some information I had read said these hostas have little to no fragrance.  Alas, I could detect no fragrance.

Maybe conditions have to be perfect for the fragrance to develop.  I know it was extremely hot here while we were gone, in the upper 90's to 100 probably with heat indexes that were in the 100's.  Since we have been back, it has been in the upper 90's to 100 with heat indexes up to 110 a few days.  I have noticed a lot of dead bugs (bees, locusts, flies) on the ground when I walk the dog, and I wonder if the heat has done them in.

Heuchera Caramel

      Another plant that was flowering when we returned and still is flowering is Heuchera Caramel.  It has the tiniest white flowers.  I thought the flowers would be a little larger.  The heuchera has lost a lot of its' caramel color throughout the season, but the underside of the leaves still have some caramel to light maroon color.


     In the woodland garden I noticed that one of the five ligularias had bloomed.  I thought these plants were ligularia "rocket" variety, but this bloom is not a spike four feet tall.  The bloom is no taller than the plant itself.  None of the other ones have bloomed, so they may not be in the ideal place.  I may try to dig them up and put them in the side perennial garden.

clematis vine
     In the side perennial garden, which I have not had a post about yet, is a clematis vine growing on lattice panels around the A/C unit.  When we put the lattice panels up in early spring, this side perennial garden was a total mess, overgrown with weeds, lots of leaves and debris.  My son and I cleaned it out, my husband put up the panels, and then we just waited to see what was going to come up there in the spring and summer.  I had planted a clematis vine there years ago , and it did show up this spring!  Lots of other perennials have come up also, some of which I had forgotten I planted.  The garden is somewhat of a mess, with perennials in odd places here and there, where they don't really fit and weren't originally planted in those spaces.  I will post about the perennial garden next and what I am pulling this fall and what is staying.

     As a reminder that fall is soon coming, I saw the first acorns from the oaks fall in the yard this week.  I hate to see fall come, but it is supposed to be a fairly warm autumn, so maybe it will seem like the continuation of summer.

The Woodland Garden

Forested Flood Plain
     On one side of our house is a forested flood plain in which much wildlife passes through, eats, rests, and plays.  We regularly see deer, foxes, squirrels, chipmunks, field mice.  Our property goes several yards into these woods.  Years ago I planted a garden at the edge of these woods which I call the woodland garden.  When we moved back into this house last winter, I was amazed that most of what was planted was still there although neglected and covered with leaves, tree branches and debris.  Here are some photos of what is there.

     Years ago I planted about 10 hellebores, and now there is a large stand of them next to the fence that runs along the side of the yard.  There are some white and some pink-flowered ones, but the white ones far outnumber the pink-flowered ones.

Ligularia "rocket"

     Behind the stand of hellebores are about five Ligularia "rocket" plants.  Their leaves are striking and provide interest, and stalks of yellow flowers rise up to four feet tall in midsummer.  I am anxious to see if they still flower.


     One of the groundcovers that was planted at the edge of the woods was ajuga.  Some of it has spread into the woods.  These were uncovered after removing lots of leaves and debris this spring.

Vinca minor

     Another groundcover that was planted years ago was vinca minor which has pretty blue flowers in the spring.  This was originally planted around a tree and it has spread into the woods.

Lily of the Valley

     A gardening friend gave me some lily of the valley plants years ago, and they have spread around the tree which sits just at the edge of the woods.

Summersweet shrubs
      On the side of the house next to the woods, we have a small amount of yard.  There were bushes here before, but the previous owners took them all out and did not plant anything here.  I planted five Summersweet (Clethra alnifolia) bushes.  There are two Summersweet "Hummingbird" bushes near the deck railing which produce white flowers in late summer.  The three shrubs in front are Summersweet "Ruby Spice" which have rosy pink flowers.  The flowers have a wonderful fragrance, hence the name, and in the fall the leaves turn a striking yellow.  They do well in sun to part sun and are generally pest and disease free.

     This will be the last blog for a few weeks as our family is taking a much needed vacation.


Back Yard Bushes

Bushes at the back of the house
     When we bought back our old house last November we saw that the owners had taken out every bush or foundation planting around the back, front and one side of the house.  They left the rose bushes and perennial garden on one side.  I don't know why they did that unless they did not want to do any yard maintenance, or maybe they liked the minimalist look.  But the house looked pretty bare on the outside.  Anyway that gave me an opportunity to plant some new bushes.  Here are some photos of some interesting new bushes (for me) that were planted.

Boxwood Dee Runk

     There is a boxwood Dee Runk on each side of the basement doors.  This boxwood has dense foliage and a columnar shape.  It can grow to 8 feet but stays only 2 feet wide.

boxwood Winter Gem

     Along the outside of the deck we planted several boxwood Winter Gems.  These have dense evergreen foliage and are among the hardiest of boxwoods.  They are classic hedge plants that grow 4 feet tall and wide.

Scalawag Holly

     There are 4 of these Scalawag holly bushes edging the back of the house.  This holly has a dense rounded form and bright, shiny green leaves.  A slow growing holly, it can reach 4 feet tall and 3 feet wide.

Azalea Encore Autumn Princess

     Three of these azaleas are planted around the bay window.  These are encore azaleas that are suppose to bloom spring, summer and fall.  They did bloom in the spring, but I have yet to see any summer blooms.  The Autumn Princess has dark pink, semi-double, ruffled blooms.  These bushes can grow 3 to 5 feet tall and 3 feet wide.

Hosta Undulata Albo Marginata

     There are a few hosta plants that I planted years ago that are still here at the back of the house.  At each end of the house there is a Hosta undulata albo marginata.  I am guessing at this variety, because I know very little about hostas.  This hosta seemed to match this name when looking up hostas on the internet.

Hosta Undulata Variegata Univittata

     At the center of the of the back of the house is a hosta Undulata Variegata Univittata, which is another guess of mine from matching it to photos on the internet.

Hosta Golden Tiara

     This hosta (also matched from the internet) is on the side of the deck as it wraps around the house.  It has heart-shaped leaves that have light golden edging.  It has just bloomed with a purple flower.

     In my next post I will have photos of what I call the woodland garden that sits at the edge of the forested flood plain next to our property.

Bushes in the Back Garden


     In one of the barest corners of the back garden I wanted something that would fill the space and be evergreen.  I chose a viburnum called "leatherleaf".  This is an evergreen viburnum with shiny, thick,  puckered leaves.  It had white flowers in the spring and has doubled in size.  It can grow six to ten feet high and spread six to ten feet.

Fothergilla Blue Sjadow

     One bush I have never had is a fothergilla which was planted in the middle of the back garden.  It  had white flowers in early spring and has powder blue leaves.  I am waiting for the striking fall colors of the leaves in autumn that I have read about.  It has suddenly doubled in size and can get four to six feet high and wide. 

Dragon Lady Hollies

     There are six dragon lady hollies planted along the fence in the back garden.  They had tiny, white flowers in the spring, and now have lots of green berries that will turn red in fall.  They are starting to fill out, but are supposed to keep their columnar shape and can grow ten to twenty feet, but will only get four to six feet wide.

Azalea Encore Autumn Chiffon

     In the back garden there are three azalea bushes, one of which was planted  here  years ago that blooms in the spring with white flowers.  The other two are recently planted Encore azaleas that bloom spring, summer and fall.  One is white azalea called Encore Autumn Moonlight which can grow to five feet, and this bicolor azalea pictured above called Encore Autumn Chiffon whose flowers are bicolor pink and white.  This azalea will only get 21/2 feet tall and three feet wide.  They bloomed in the spring, but I am waiting to see if the Encore varieties bloom in summer and again in the fall.

Dwarf Nandina

     There are six dwarf nandina bushes in the back garden, three on each end of the garden that were planted many years ago.  Some have not been pruned and were very leggy.  In March I pruned them, and they will need more pruning next spring.Here is one of the nicer looking bushes with lots of white flowers that will turn into red berries in the fall.  

back garden with pink begonias

    I took out the tired looking pansies and planted pink begonias along the wall in the back garden.  I wanted a flowering shade annual for some color and these looked so beautiful at the garden center.

Back Garden Plants


Autumn fern
     There are several other shade plants growing in the back garden besides the hostas and heucheras I posted about last week.  The Autumn fern (Dyopteris erythrosora) pictured at right is one of three planted in the garden.  This is the first time I have planted this fern.  I am hoping it will be at least semi-evergreen in the winter here as I've been told.  I decided to give it a try since I wanted something in this fairly bare spot in the garden all winter.  I like the orange or copper color of the new fronds.

Black cohosh

     Along the fence I planted five black cohosh (actea racemosa, formerly cimicifuga racemosa).  This is another new plant for me.  I wanted something against the eight-foot fence that runs along most of the back yard.  I have read that the whispy plumes of tiny, star-like flowers can grow up to eight feet tall, and that the seed pods can be attractive as winter interest in the garden.  I am anxious to find out if the flowers can be as unpleasantly scented as I have read.

Brunnera macrophylla

     There are six Brunnera macrophylla, or Siberian bugloss, in the garden.  Brunneras are one of my favorite shade plants, not only for their tiny, lacy blue flowers in  the spring, but also their large, heart-shaped leaves that last till frost.


     There are a few hellebores on the side of the back garden that is near the forested flood plain.  There is a whole field of hellebores there outside the fence that I planted years ago.  I was surprised to see when we bought this house again, that some of the seeds from that area had made it over the fence.

Hardy begonia

     I received two hardy begonias (Begonia grandis), a winter hardy begonia to zone 7, at my garden club plant exchange this May.  I planted them on the somewhat empty edges of each side of the back garden.  I love the plants large mounds of often red-veined, heart-shaped leaves and delicate pink flowers that bloom in August-September.

     There are a few more plants and several bushes in the back garden that I will post photos of next time.  Happy Father's Day to all the dads and father figures.