I’m taking an online gardening course from The English Gardening School, and as part of the course, I’m creating an expanded pollinator border in the front yard. All of my mixed borders are actually pollinator-friendly, but this one is designed from the beginning with as many pollinator-attracting plants as I can squeeze in.
Why the front yard? Because I’ve been rather neglectful of the space and I’ve been saying for the last year or two (at least) that I was going to do something to liven things up out there. But the garden season whizzes by and I look up in late October and find I’ve done nothing new, other than possibly add a plant or two to the existing borders that line the front of the house.
So, 2018 is the year! See the narrow band of bearded irises above? The bed is located on the southern side of the driveway and is currently 3.5′ deep x 12′ long. It has two Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’, a Clematis ‘Malaya Garnet’ growing up the arbor, and many Iris ‘Autumn Circus’…that’s it. Blah.
The expanded border, to be named the “Bee and Butterfly Border”, will be 15′ at its deepest point and 32’ long (see rough sketch below). I don’t like wedding myself to a plan, so I’m sure it will morph to some extent as I plant. But it at least gives me an initial list of plants to source – either buying, dividing existing plants, or growing from seed.
The Amelanchier ‘Princess Diana’ and Amelanchier ‘Fergie’ have been purchased from St. Lawrence Nurseries, located a couple of towns over, and should be ready for pickup by late April. The Rosa gallica ‘Officinalis’ (2) will be arriving as bare roots from David Austin around the same time. The Hosta ‘Empress Wu’ will come from divisions of several very large specimens in the back garden. The Nepeta x faassenii, Achillea, Alchemilla mollis, Echinacea purpurea, and Geranium sanguineum ‘Rozanne’ will also come from divisions of existing plants. I may toss in some Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ for fall color as well.
Cleome, Digitalis purpurea, Echinops ritro, Asclepias tuberosa, Centranthus ruber, cottage pinks, and Dianthus barbatus are being grown from seed.
The Clematis ‘Rosemoor Gardini’, Verbena bonariensis and Asclepias syriaca are arriving from White Flower Farm in CT.
Until some of the perennials beef up in year two, I’ll likely fill in the gaps this year with dahlias, zinnias and cosmos. Oh, and of course I’ll toss some poppy seeds in the border. And may add a little Coreopsis or Rudbeckia hirta for a splash of yellow. As I said, things will morph.
Now I just have to hope for some cooperation from the weather so I can do the ground work for the expanded border before the plants start arriving!