Longtime followers will know that Jason and I are slowly converting our boring, scraggly front and back lawns into native, xeriscaped, water-saving landscapes that enhance both the ecosystem and the beauty of our little space. It’s a long process because 1) we’re doing it all ourselves and have to time it for when we have no other projects/appointments (not to mention the weather is okay aka not boiling outside), and 2) it’s expensive, so we have to do it in phases as we save up for it. The current project is the bed that goes along the back of the house from the deck to the a/c unit.
Our house is on a slight slope, and because the yard wasn’t well-cared-for before, a lot of the soil from near the house eroded down the hill. Last year, Jason built a small “fence” made of scrap wood to mark out this bed, and we threw a bunch of junk seeds (non-edible oats, peas, and barley) into the area to grow and hold down the remaining soil. Nothing was growing there before because the house had no rain gutters, so water would smash into this area and rip up any growth. The junk-plants were hardy and meant to be a stop-gap until we could get gutters up, which we did last fall. Now that it’s planting season, we tilled up the old growth; added topsoil, compost, and peat; and made a plan for the bed.
This is an area that gets morning sun but a lot of afternoon shade. It’s also right outside my bedroom, and I knew I wanted plants that attracted butterflies. Jason and I also have a rule on our permanent beds (aka not just seeds thrown in temporarily) that plants have to be native, non-invasive, self-sowing, and low-water-need. Essentially, they have to thrive on very little care while also doing no damage to the local ecosystem (hopefully improving it!). We’ve been working with native plants since 2018, so I had a good idea of the ones I wanted in that bed: primarily mistflowers, with a mix of salvias, dusty miller, skullcaps, inland sea oats (for greenery), and native milkweed. Sea oats weren’t available, and since they were just for greenery, I ended up going with milky way cast iron plants instead. Jason and I also got a Carolina jessamine to trail up the side of the deck, particularly because we saw just how many native butterflies it was attracting. (Indeed, before these were even planted, I saw three different varieties of butterfly flocking to it!) Mistflowers weren’t available in the quantities I wanted, so I’ll have to go back in a few weeks to get more, but I got a few to start.
I know it doesn’t look like much, but those will all grow and fill out that bed over time. Mistflowers tend to start their own gardens, which is one reason I chose them. This was, very specifically, my mistflower bed!
This was all done last weekend, and we waited a week to mulch, mostly because there was a lot of rain and some freezing temps all throughout the week. We wanted to prevent mildew/rot, so we waited until this weekend to mulch. Thankfully, all the plants seem to have done fine in the mild freezes, and even the light sheet of ice we had one morning. (The original plan was to plant in mid-March, after all danger of frost had passed. A miscommunication led to planting three weeks earlier than intended.) So this (above photo) is where the mistflower bed currently sits, while it waits a few weeks for the rest of the plants (more mistflowers, Texas milkweed) to be available in the local nurseries. Again, it doesn’t look like much, but I know how quickly this is going to turn into a gorgeous garden bed!