DO YOU HAVE AN
Who knows? Some
people think of borders as formal and edges as informal. If this is so,
I guess mine are all edges. I
have lots of paths wondering around so that I can stay off the soil as
much as possible. Mostly I
use edges as homes for the small plants that would get lost anywhere
taken a number of my trees or their older, lower branches so I don’t
have as many shady spots as I did before.
One of my favorite edge plants is CORAL
BELLS (Heuchera sp) and I still have ‘Palace Purple’. These dark bronze
red plants with jagged leaves were in the shade 20 years ago, but now
are quite sunny and seem to be doing just as well.
The secret is for CORAL
BELLS seems to be damp soil. They
come in all sizes and the smaller ones drape nicely over the edges of
the path. Lately the plant
scientists have been coming up with ones of every color from almost
white to nearly black. They
all seem to push their woody roots up above the soil line making it
easier to divide in spring as they snap off with a few roots ready to
move. I have one dark purple that has been in a pot in full sun for
several years and gets a little ragged during winter but after I cut it
off, it comes back better than ever. I was worried about its hardiness
in a pot. The white ones have not proven so hardy for me.
It may be lack of enough chlorophyll.
The flowers come up every tall, skinny and dainty.
It would take many to make a bouquet. The veins are outstanding
in all of them. Their
hybridizers have given them neat names such as ‘Rain of Fire’,
‘Splish Splash’, ‘Chocolate Ruffles’, and ‘White Cloud’,
In a hot dry
area, LAMBS EARS (Stachys
sp.), also known as BETONY
or HEDGE NETTLE, won’t survive in a wet area.
Most of the species are creeping and will root where they land
and their leaves are fuzzy, about 3 inches long.
Now in the last few years there are several who have leaves ten
inches long. ‘Big Ears’ is an example.
One summer I noticed a few kids out there in the parkway
“petting” the sheep! One girl about a year older was explaining the
plant to her friends.
If you have
rock edges as I do, the “HEN
In the shady or
partially shady areas, FIBROUS BEGONIA’S never get so big they would cover your path, but
they will hangover a bit to make it seem less rigid.
They are also a little less fussy about the amount of shade than
are the tuberous ones. Neither one can stand frost so should not be
planted too early. Also, neither one can stand soil that is constantly
wet as they like damp, slightly acid soil.
Plant breeders have been working with the rhizome ones to produce
some that can stand more sun. The
bulbs should be dug before frost hits them.
The fibrous ones are generally abandoned and new plants bought in
the spring. In the tropics
there are BEGONIAS 5 feet
tall. Another group that is grown for foliage (REX BEGONIA) usually are pot plants. They are expensive compared to
the others, but those leaves are gorgeous in a north window!
If you have HOSTA
in your shady area, the JAPANESE
PAINTED FERN (Athyrium sp)
looks good in front with their colored midribs.
There are various “paints”, usually purple or red, sometimes
in the stalks. They like a loose soil, a mixture of sand, soil, and leaf
mold. They reproduce from spores under the leaves or they can be divided
in the spring.
easiest edger to find in spring is the ALYSSUM
which will be about 6 inches high without spreading wildly.
The more common colors are white, pink, and purple.
Other colors are advertised in catalogues and you can start your
own mid-February to
There are dwarf
SNAPDRAGONS that you can get
in a number of colors that never get over 12 inches.
They tend to sprawl a little which is what I want in my rock
edges. They bloom fairly
early, take a rest period during heat, and then bloom again until
frosted rather heavily. I
also have a dwarf purple MONARDA
that likes high shade and spreads slowly by its roots.