Wednesday, June 25, 2014

My New Yellow Garden

'Mesa Yellow' blanket flower gaillardia in my new Yellow Garden

Back in April, I wrote a post that described the garden I was thinking of making in the spot where we had a tree removed behind our house. I wrote:
"I plan to expand the narrow planting strip along the back of the house to enclose the spot where the tree stood, in a generous curving garden bed along the whole length of the house. My plan is to plant mostly gold-foliage and yellow-flowering plants in these beds to light up this north side of the house. The part of the bed right next to the house is in shade, but the rest will be mostly sunny."
I'm happy to say that my plans for a cheery Yellow Garden are starting to take shape. Here are a few photos: before, during, and still during:

The back yard on the north side of my house, in March. The two trees are ash trees, and we decided to remove the one on the left because it was too close to the house, and because we wished to open up the yard.

By mid-April, the tree had been removed. Already the yard looked more  open and the remaining ash tree was receiving more light. With luck, it will be healthier and resist the ash borer disease that is sweeping through the Midwest.
This is the map I drew of my plans for new beds (see two posts ago for what I did in the two island beds, #1 and #2).
Bed #3 is the one here behind the house.

The first thing I needed to do was mark out the area I wanted to make into a border and have my husband spray the grass with Round-Up to kill it, which he had to do twice. Then I dug out the edging bricks that lined the old, narrow planting strip along the back of the house. I then added compost to that area and began planting shade-loving, mostly gold-foliage plants, including (all were bought locally, unless noted):

  • 'Gold Heart' bleeding hearts
  • 'Golden Lotus' hellebores (I got these from Bluestone Perennials, ordered during an early-spring online special) I planted these under the window, so I'd have something to look at in spring when I long for color.
  • 'Garden Glow' dogwoods
  • 'Gold Mops' Sawara false cypress
  • 'All Gold' Japanese forest grass
  • 'Gold Standard' hostas

The first gold-foliage plantings, at the end of April.

Additionally, further away from the house I planted a Laburnum watereri Vossii Goldenchain Tree that I ordered from Forest Farm, plus an Itoh peony 'Bartzella' that I happened across for a decent price at Lowes. I've wanted to have a laburnum tree since I read Rosemary Verey's books about her garden at Barnsley House and its iconic Laburnum Walk, but I didn't think they were hardy here. I was surprised to find out that there are a couple of varieties that can be grown in Zone 5.

Isn't this incredible? Laburnum racemes dripping down in golden chains over alliums. I tried to find a creative commons photo of Rosemary Verey's beautiful Laburnum Walk at Barnsley House in England, but couldn't find one. Instead here's a beautiful photo of the Laburnum Walk at Vandusen Botanical Garden in British Columbia. I hope I can have
even a fraction of this golden gloriousness in my own yard! (Flickr, Wendy Cutler

It was at this time that I got the idea to put a stepping stone path through the area, since it was so large. I found these round pavers at Menards, and liked that they had a touch of yellow in them:

I have also been toying with the idea of placing a bench there, although I would find a smaller, more delicate-looking one than the wood bench I temporarily put there to see what it would look like.

More perennials. The laburnum tree is planted on the far side of the path, toward the center of the photo
(it looks like a tiny stick).

Next, I spread compost on a larger area and began planting more perennial plants: partial-shade plants nearer the house and full-sun plants farther from the house, including (mostly in groups of three plants each -- luckily, I know a place with cheap perennials!):

  • yellow foxgloves
  • 'Spring Magic' yellow columbine
  • yellow cinquefoil potentilla
  • 'Butter & Sugar' Siberian iris
  • 'Aurea' lysimachia
  • some 'Aurea' lamiums that I moved from another section of the border
  • Iceland poppies
  • Basket of Gold
  • 'Little Lemon' solidago
  • 'Sylvester' threadleaf coreopsis
  • Missouri evening primrose
  • 'Sunset Yellow' hyssop
  • 'Mesa Yellow' blanket flower 
  • yellow coneflower ratibida
  • 'Sunburst' heliopsis
  • buddleia 'Golden Glow'
  • 'Moonshine' yarrow
  • 'Stella de Oro' daylilies
  • black-eyed susans (a large group of ten)
  • 'Gold Strike' lady's mantle
  • 'Yellow Pixie' Asiatic lilies (a package of ten bulbs)

I've continued to work on this area, planting a few yellow flowering annuals like marigolds and snapdragons that I transplanted from other beds, and I think it's looking OK for a first year planting:

Mostly mulched and neatly edged, most of the perennials have been planted in this area, although the area to the left is still under construction.

I still need to finish the area to the left in the last photo -- I'm not sure what I will plant there, but I can at least get mulch down so it looks orderly while I make up my mind.

Also, I will plant yellow-flowering bulbs this fall: winter aconite for early spring interest, daffodils, yellow tulips, perhaps some tall bearded iris divided from ones I have already, maybe some little yellow alliums.

I can't wait to see how it looks next year! I'm looking forward to having some spring cheer outside my windows. I'll be sure to post photos to share my progress.

Thanks for reading! -Beth


  1. That's a lovely big flower bed which gives you the opportunity to grow all those plants on your list. The stepping stones look good placed in an interesting curve. I'm looking forward to seeing the yellow flower bed as it develops.

    1. Thanks for visiting, Linda! I'm glad you like the stepping stones and I'll definitely share more photos as things fill out. Best, Beth.

  2. It looks like you're off to a great start! A bed that big will be fun to work with. :o) I love yellow flowers, too. But sometimes the yellows 'pop' more when they're mixed with other colors. Have you thought about adding just a few plants with white or blue flowers for contrast? Yellow also looks great against purple foliage. Excellent spot for the path. :o)

  3. It's me again. :o) You are in my Blogger Spotlight! Yay! Pop on over to my blog and you'll see it in the top right hand corner. :o)

    1. Thanks for visiting and for spotlighting my blog on your own longtime garden blog! And thanks for your suggestion -- I have considered adding other colors to the mix (blue and yellow are indeed a beautifully traditional contrast), although I thought I'd start with the yellow and see how it works before deciding what else to add. More ideas for next year! Best Regards, Beth

  4. Great plants list and lots of work accomplished... congratulations! Sarah and I have three hours of gardening in each this morning but now I have a Dr. app. and she needs to go to work... will pick up some supports if available at HD... if all goes well, I should get in at least six more hours when I get home... trying to make a dent in all the weeds that germinated from the rains... now if only the mosquitoes would die off...

    1. Thanks for visiting, Larry, and for your very kind comment! It sounds like you are VERY busy in the gardens today -- I understand and sympathize about the weeds, which do seem to become waist-high overnight -- but don't overwork yourself! -Beth

    2. The laburnum is most amazing! Can't wait to see yours when it matures. It reminds me of a wisteria. You have developed a plan for a very beautiful garden. Good luck!

    3. Thanks, Beth! Aren't laburnums beautiful? Apparently people can grow them in the Midwest and they're hardy to 5A -- we'll see how mine does here.... :-)