I’m joining Diana at Elephant’s Eye in her monthly “Dozen for Diana” meme. Our friend Donna in New York is calling hers “Simply the Best“, I’m calling mine, “My Garden of Twelve“.

So I’ve known about this for a few weeks already and honestly, I’ve started my post for it four times! 4 times I started and four times I deleted. I just couldn’t get it right or feel any real passion for the plant profiles I was trying to do. Then I read the brief again. What does she really want us to do?

“1. I would like you to imagine a new empty small garden: Perhaps an enclosed courtyard? The view from a window? That new garden bed?
2. Choose Twelve plants that grow happily in your climate and soil! Make a list tailored for your garden.
3. Diana favours indigenous/native for wildlife. She also has roses. What do you like? What works in your garden?
4. Colour / scent / texture / interest – so we see A Garden.”
~ Diana of Elephant’s Eye (Western Cape, South Africa)

Right, now I get it.

Only, I don’t have to imagine an empty bed. I have one. A recently stripped bed. Its been stripped, composted, mulched, watered, left. It’s ready for some planting action. I have no plan. So lets use the bed and make a plan. 12 plants. 12 months. 12 progress blog posts.

Bare Garden of Twelve in Jan, 2012Bare Garden of Twelve in January 2012

Another angle, January 2012Another angle, January 2012

Current bed details:
Size of the bed: 3,2 metres long, 2.1 metres wide.
Aspect: East facing, against my west boundary wall.
Full sun / partial shade under the Birch tree.
Existing Plant material:
• A Birch tree, fair size.
• A young ornamental cherry (could be moved).
• A few random plants (Carex, Helichrysum petiolare, Lamium) that may be moved to other areas in the garden. Or not.

Desired Style: My own. I’ll work it out as I go along, but I’m thinking roses and grasses … perhaps. I can have 12 plants. And they need to work.
Name of the bed: For now I’ll call it my garden of twelve.
Intended plants: 12 plants. 12 that work. 12 plants that I love.
Problems / special considerations: My pets often walk in the front part of this beds so plants situated at the front cannot be delicate or fragile.

The First of my Twelve
Right, it’s nothing very exciting, terribly exotic, prestigious or even desirable. But I love it!

Carex Evergold with petunias in my gardenCarex Evergold in my garden

Carex Evergold grouped in my gardenCarex Evergold in my garden

Bordering the Heliotrope in the Rose bedBordering the Heliotrope & Roses bed

Chameleon plant peeping throughChameleon plant peeping through Carex

Plant: Carex hachijoensis ‘Evergold’ – Sedge
Why? I took a walk around my garden and asked myself the question … “If I pulled out every single plant and started from scratch, what is the very first plant I would plant again?”. In my garden, its Carex evergold. I just adore everything about this hardy plant. I know its not indigeneous, spectacular, bla bla bla … but it makes me happy and makes me want to be in the garden. So if I have these, then the rest follows.

In my garden of twelve, they already exist from the previous planting. As you can see in the photos (of the bed, above), they are planted all in a row – my rookie mistake. I plan to remove a few, then reposition the rest to create a more natural look. staggered, perhaps with a low growing, flowering ground cover in between, or something else, we’ll get to that … this is the First of my Twelve!

Carex Evergold

Plant Profile:
Type: Rush or Sedge
Family: Cyperaceae
Height: 0.75 to 1 feet / Spread: 1 to 1.5 feet
Blooms: Yes, but rather insignificant
Sun: Partial shade to sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Very low
Growth habit: It is a fairly dense, clump-forming sedge grown for its foliage effect.
Leaves: The leaves are grass-like, arching and variegated (creamy yellow with dark green borders).
Problems: To date I am not aware of any problems with Carex in my garden. I’ve lost one (a newly planted one) to what I think was cutworm. Other than that, they are easy, low maintenance, with a nice mounding growth habit. It is not spreading itself in my garden so is very well behaved and a bonus is that it can take a fair amount of abuse in terms of my pets trampling on it – which they like to do!
Seasonal interest: Carex is evergreen here in my climate, and looks great in all seasons with no colour changes.
References: Some information from the Missouri Botanical Garden, the rest is my own observation and experience.

My Garden of Twelve by Month in photos (Starts January 2012).
(From my Flickr Gallery which will be added to and updated monthly)

For a list of good memes, see our list at Gardening Blog Memes.