The Garage Flower Bed

I have the opportunity to put together pretty much a whole new flower bed.

There are still a few plants in the front of the bed — gooseneck loosestrife, hydrangeas, a shrub rose, some spring bulbs and alliums, some lilies, jumpseed, geraniums, and my poor Andromeda that got hacked to the ground and is coming back. That’s maybe the front third of the bed.

The Garage Bed in May, before the Maypop took over.

The Garage Bed in May, before the Maypop took over.

Gooseneck Loosestrife in bloom, July 2014

Gooseneck Loosestrife in bloom, July 2014

Andromeda

Andromeda got hacked to the ground at some point. Not by me.

David Austin Heritage English Rose

David Austin Heritage English Rose

Last summer, I asked our lawn guy to whack the crazy maypop vines and tall weeds that had taken over the back two-thirds of the bed. A yellow lily got whacked in the process, but I’m guessing it will be fine, as long as I didn’t accidentally smother it with cardboard. The alliums are at large — they bloom very early in the spring, and their flower stalks and foliage had long since withered and gone for the year — so I’m hoping not to smother them, either.

After the initial mass destruction of weeds and vines.

After the initial mass destruction of weeds and vines.

For the most part, though, as long as I can keep the weeds and the maypop vine from returning and taking over, I have a blank slate.

I can’t stop thinking about it.

If I play my cards right, in a few years I could have a feature flower bed that looks like something out of Fine Gardening Magazine.

My first and possibly most important task is to keep the weeds and vines from taking over again. Then I need to do some serious thinking about what I want this bed to be. Should it be impactful from the road, or just as visitors come up the driveway? Does it need a little seating nook tucked away somewhere in amidst the tall flowers and plantings I’m imagining, or maybe a sculpture or a birdbath? Is it perhaps a cutting garden, for summertime (or autumn) indoor arrangements? Do I leave some spots for container plants, to switch things up as the seasons scroll past?

Too much to think about right now. The first step is just keeping the vines at bay, and preparing the soil for whatever I plan to plant in it.

View from the garage bed

Standing in the garage bed, where a porch swing or hammock might go someday.

Right now, I have cardboard laying over the majority of the naked part of the bed. (It actually doesn’t look as tacky as it might seem, because the taller plants mask the cardboard and cinder blocks from the front. …Now that I think about it, that gives me an idea of how to approach the design in the future.) I will admit that I used an herbicide (Milestone, not Round-Up) to kill all the emerging maypop vines after the overgrowth was cut back. They were a lot easier to target when they weren’t overtaking the entire bed.

Come spring, I intend to buy some bulk mulch and hire someone to spread it over all my beds and borders, including this one, and add some pre-emergent herbicide to keep weeds from sprouting. I also intend to keep targeting the maypops as they emerge, preferably pulling them instead of spraying them, assuming I can keep up.

I don’t see me planting anything in this bed until the fall, or maybe even 2016. I just have too many other maintenance tasks to take care of in the beds and borders that take precedence. Plus, I really want to do this up right, and not just rush into planting the first pretties that I find.

I am tempted to transplant some pachysandra from another bed into this one… but I hesitate to do anything, even put a ground cover like that in place, until I know for sure what I want to do with the space as a whole. I’d hate to transplant it and then change my mind and have to tear it all out again.

So exciting, though. The possibilities! I finally feel like I’m starting to own these beds and borders.

(Even though they’re still entirely too much for me to maintain with a full-time job and a family — baby steps.)

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