Today I’m returning to my front garden, this time on ground level.  The dusty miller along the edge are plants from last year which agreeably came back this spring.  They had been in another bed which has since been repurposed, but I couldn’t bear to till them under.  They’re interspersed with begonias, and everyone seems happy there.  The morning sun shines brightly upon them, but by early afternoon they rest in the shade of the house.  I regret that I didn’t buy enough to line the whole path.  Next year!        

Last year, I tried to grow coleus directly in the ground in the corner area behind the rose of Sharon.  They fared poorly, so this year I decided to try them in a short window box instead.  So far, so good, though one suffered an unknown setback.  It has new growth, so I’m hopeful for its recovery.  If this arrangement continues to work, I will repeat it next summer, but in an earthy colored planter which I will sink deeper into the ground beneath the mulch.

I planted two gallon sized pots of astilbe in that corner last spring as well.  One came back beautifully this year and blessed me with plenty of feathery pink spires in early July.  I was concerned about the other, as I saw no new green shoots emerging until quite late this spring, at least three weeks after its sibling.  It is set  back farther

in the garden than its counterpart, under a veritable umbrella of rhododendron leaves, so it does not get as much water.  Further, living in the shade of the rose of Sharon, it does not get as much sun as the other.  Astilbe are supposed to be shade lovers, but I have found that they do need some sunlight in order to produce their fairy-like blossoms.  For now, I plan to give this plant a lot of extra water, pouring on two quarts every time I water the baskets on my front porch.  Next year, after I decide whether to move the rose of Sharon, I will decide whether to move it to a slightly brighter spot. 

But wait!  My astilbe adventures continue!  This spring a local nursery sold some perennials in four packs, so I bought a pack of astilbe and planted two of them in an empty area to the left of the barberry.  The one on the left had a couple of buds, and it clearly has spent its energy on them.  The one on the right had no buds, and has doubled in size in the month since I planted it.  I can’t wait to see their progress  next spring!