Spirea Double Play Doozie Photo Proven Winners

Sunshine showed up in my garden and has remained a permanent guest. Trees died and it moved right in. If you are a shade gardener where do you go from there? What is your next act? Plant more trees at age eighty? I don’t think so: my children have no interest in my garden.

Aster Kickin’ Sapphire
Photo: Proven Winners

Resisting the Inevitable

I have put my summer hat on, picked up a larger water bottle with cold drink and embraced the change. I am thinking of the change this way: a perfect opportunity to visit the garden center and purchase more plants. (And, if my wife does not catch me, my mind will. “What are you doing purchasing more plants? You can’t take care of what you have now. Where will you put it? Yada-yada-yada” Yea, yea, I know…. Sigh.”) Meanwhile, I go right on with the excitement of designing, weeding and prepping the scorched area for a new life. This time around more color for summer and fall.


Most, if not all, plants I intend to use are already available in the garden or past purchases remaining in containers. I may not actually have to purchase anything to complete what I have in mind. You know how it goes: I seem to always have more imagination than space in the garden. Plants in containers are impulse purchases that have not found a space in the garden as yet, some left over from not fitting into the intended design.

The area I will be redesigning is irregular in shape, somewhat unusual. There will be a path outlining one side, which is open to sun, while the background will be a cliff face dropping behind the bed to a lower level. Large stones with soil between them form the drop. An existing mature Oakleaf Hydrangea forms a background for part of the bed, and another oakleaf forms the opposite end.

Hakonechloa macra All Gold with Spigelia marilandica in background

Late Summer and Fall Color

So let’s begin. As you walk up steps and take a turn to the right there is a drift of Epimedium. The Epimedium ends at a flat stone ledge which is used as a base for a large ceramic ball in crackled deep green. The new bed begins with the ending of Epimedium and ball.

I have on hand a drift of Hakonechloa m. ‘All Gold’ which is my favorite Japanese Forest Grass. I will be using this as a play off the ceramic ball and stone, the epimedium, and as an introduction to the new bed. Hakonechloa All Gold is a cushion of arching slender blades of golden yellow reaching fourteen to sixteen inches.

Following the mound of golden grass I have placed Aster Kickin’ Sapphire. A selection of a native species dumosus, or Bushy Aster. Height is about two to three feet, and covered with lilac blue rays with a yellow center reflecting the golden grass. Behind the golden grass and the blue aster is Spigelia with its upright habit of dark green leaves, red and yellow flowers appearing in summer with the grass.

Holding center stage next is Spirea Double Play Doozie that will form a lose mound about three feet tall and across. A rebloomer in bright clusters of pink-red fuzzy flowers and the spring foliage is red. In the background will be a mature Oakleaf hydrangea. Between the Spirea and Japanese forest grass I have a stand of lilies in deepest red-black for additional summer color.

Stepping down the Spirea is Solidago Little Lemon that sends up spikes of bright lemon-yellow flowers over rounded foliage, leaves growing smaller as the ascend the stems. Only reaches about a foot tall, as much in width. Late summer and fall blooming.

To the left of the Spirea and dwarf golden rod is another stand of lilies, another Kickin’ Sapphire aster with one more stand of golden Hakone grass in the rear. To the left of the grass is another stand of Spigelia.

Still a bit of space remains driving me to distraction. This calls for a trip to a garden center.

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