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The First of my Twelve

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.

[one_half]Bare Garden of Twelve in Jan, 2012Bare Garden of Twelve in January 2012[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Another angle, January 2012Another angle, January 2012[/one_half_last]

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!

[one_half]Carex Evergold with petunias in my gardenCarex Evergold in my garden[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Carex Evergold grouped in my gardenCarex Evergold in my garden[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Bordering the Heliotrope in the Rose bedBordering the Heliotrope & Roses bed[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Chameleon plant peeping throughChameleon plant peeping through Carex[/one_half_last]

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.

Christine's garden Gardening Home page features

Gerbera and friends get potted

The big ugly broken terracotta pot just outside my office that looked so stunning with the spring flowering Ixias I wrote about a while back (and also showed off here) was looking very sad now that the Ixias are finished for the year. I’ve been patiently waiting for them to die down as I want to save the bulbs for next year, but I also wanted to do something with the pot. I’ve had the idea to make this a “seasonal pot”, i.e. to change it every three months with seasonal annuals or bulbs. So today I cleaned up the remains of the Ixias, added lots of new compost to the pot and looked around for something to plant in it.

It gets pretty hot where the pot stands and gets a good few hours of direct and bright sunlight, so the new Gerbera daisies I bought last week seemed an obvious choice. I thought they would look pretty boring planted all on their own when I remembered the Dusty Miller seedlings I nurtured from seed. Yes, they were ready to get planted out and a few Carex “frosted curls” could look good with those two … so I planted them all together. A few weeks and we should have a fairly nice display going on.

Gerbera and friends get potted

Pretty combination, Gerbera and Carex

In other news … I finally got my act together and tied the Mandevillas up onto the triangular teepee thingy I’ve had for months. Looks pretty.

Mandevillas tied up

Other than that, I’ve been shunting around and laying compost and mulch, transplanting plants that were not thriving to new positions, pruning, cutting back, tidying etc. … doing my final preparations for summer which officially starts on Thursday, here in sunny South Africa.

What have you been doing in your garden?

Happy Gardening

Barbie's garden Design Gardening Home page features Perenniels

My Grass Feature

I am impatiently waiting to tackle my Grass Feature in my front garden. It is now a clear patch – I had to remove all the stones I had placed for my ‘dry river bed’ feature, because we had to dig this weekend two big holes for our two Leopard trees. I never thought it was going to be such mission. The ground was rock hard and impossible to penetrate. We had to throw water overnight to soften the hard, clay soil. Well, to my dismay – we still have to finish the holes. I did, however, get bags of compost and mulch and a weed guard this weekend, so hopefully my garden will be beautiful before the Easter Weekend. Hold thumbs!!

In the meantime, I’m going to share with you the grasses I bought. I had to do some research to ensure I position them all correctly, depending on their final heights and spreads. I have seen some gorgeous images on the web, so I have bought some really stunning grasses! I will add the photos and describe each grass below.


[one_half_last]Miscanthus Sinensis GracillimusMiscanthus Gracillimus[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Sisyrinchium BlueSisyrinchium Blue[/one_half]

[one_half_last]CalamagrostisCalamagrostis Karl Foerster[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Eragrostis CurvulaEragrostis Curvula[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Panicum Virgatum-ShenandoahPanicum Virgatum[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Imperata Cylindrica-Red BarronImperata Cylindrica[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Pennisetum-Red ButtonsPennisetum[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Carex-Amazon MistCarex Amazon Mist[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Carex-BuchaniiCarex Buchanii[/one_half_last]

Miscanthus sinensis Gracillimus only produces plumes every 3 or 5 years. One of the tallest ornamental grasses. The height of its foliage reaches 80 inches and,when in bloom, the beige plumes increase that height to 100 inches. This is a compact plant with a spread of 32 inches wide and is hardy. Grow this plant solely for the height of it foliage, and consider the plumes an occasional bonus.

Sisyrinchium angustifolium, blue-eyed grass. 10″. Blue-eyed grass grows in tufts of flat, grass-like foliage with little clusters of blue, star-like flowers. It is not really a grass but a member of the Iris family.

Calamagrostis × acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’ feather reed grass – A stiff, erect habit is the defining feature of this grass, named after the famous German plantsman who introduced it to the public in the 1950s. Plant it en masse to form a feathery screen, or in small groups to add height and definition to a perennial border. Full sun or partial shade, grows very fast, hardy and flowers early summer to autumn. This is one of the earliest perennial grasses to get going, with shoots appearing in early spring, followed by flowers that are green first, then fade to buff. Eventual height 1.8m and spread 0.6m.

Eragrostis curvula ‘Totnes Burgundylove grass – A Beautiful mound-forming perennial grass with arching leaves that turn wine-red as they mature. In late summer and early autumn it produces masses of grey, nodding spikelets. A fabulous new ornamental grass that looks great grown in a sunny border. It copes well with drought once established and the flowers look lovely in dried flower arrangements. Full sun and a hardy grass. Eventual height is 90cm and spread 90cm.

Panicum virgatum ‘Shenandoah’ switch grass -Easily mistaken for Japanese Blood grass (Imperata cylindrica Rubra), this grass starts off with green, strap-like leaves that turn red at the tips in June, and produces light, airy flower panicles in summer. In autumn, the foliage turns a spectacular deep burgundy. It likes full sun, and unlike Imperata, can cope with dry summers. Try it in small groups among taller grasses, or against tall perennials. Height 90cm and spread 90cm and is a slow grower.

Imperata cylindrica ‘Rubra’ blood grass (syn. Red Baron) – Blood-red spikes that fade to bright green at the base and become transluscent with age make this grass a spectacular addition to the perennial border. It takes a while to strut its stuff, but in late summer, it shines like a jewel before it dies back. Imperata cylindrica is particularly effective planted with other grasses, or shown off in a container. Evenutual height is 40cm and spread is 30cm. Full sun or part shade, slow to grow.

Pennisetum messiacum ‘Red Buttons’ (Red buttons fountaingrass) – The species inhabits the wide open savannas of Africa, and this distinctive red flowered cultivar will flourish in your garden, given a well drained sunny locale. Waving bushy, warm-colored inflorescences that eventually lighten to a creamy tan, the delicate slender stems rise high above graceful flowing mounds of broad maroon-tinted green blades. Long blooming ‘Red Buttons’ can endure hot dry conditions, but not terribly cold winters. Height 90cm

Carex is a genus of plants in the family Cyperaceae, commonly known as sedges. Most (but not all) sedges are found in wetlands such as; marshes, calcareous fens, bogs and other peatlands, pond and stream banks, riparian zones, and even ditches; where they are often the dominant vegetation.