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Re: display garden ideas

From: "J.F. Hensler" <hensler@povn.com>

Hi Martha,

I've been faced with the same problems for a number of years: combining daylilies, perennials, and iris... or not, width of beds and paths, and how to keep the work to a minimum without the place looking neglected. Our soil is also sandy but drip irrigation isn't an option. 

After trying 4 very different designs the one I stayed with mixes all sorts of irises, perennials and daylilies. The trick here was to elevate the TBs in the beds, sink the water loving beardless irises, and everything else found a happy medium. I found that if a bed contained only daylilies or irises no one slowed down long enough to really "see" the gardens.

After one very determined garden visitor TRIED to jump a four foot bed I decided to make wide enough beds that no one would consider it. I use access paths that the plants hide during the growing season 1 1/2 feet wide so I can get in and weed. All of the other paths are 4 to 5 feet wide. The primary garden area is laid out in a Celtic cross pattern with a large oval center surrounded by a trench for the JIs. No one has been tempted to leap the beds and every plant in this area can be reached by an almost straight route. 

We have access to wood chips so the paths get a fresh layer every two years. They provide pretty good traction, eventually add to the soil, and are easy to remove or till in if I change my mind about the design. 

We also have quite a few rocks so all of the beds are bordered with them. It reminds the visitors where the walkway ends and keeps the beds and walks divided nicely. 

I divide as needed within each bed so no area looks totally torn up at any time and thin back plants to allow for about 3 years' growth. A layer of compost "mulch" feeds things and keeps weeds to a minimum. (The TBs, up on their raised mounds, can send their roots wherever they like and the compost never rises to the level of the rhisomes.)

The labels are a problem since the tall professional labels are a bit pricey. I've simply had to learn to remember the names of everything when I show the garden. To keep things organized I use three labels: a rock near the base, a plastic one under the rock, and a third buried beneath the plant just in case.

Hope this gives you some ideas.

Christy Hensler

Newport, WA

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