A Little Garden On The Side

There is a narrow strip between the southern side of our house and the neighboring house with just enough room on our property for a winding walkway and a few plants. The blue slate path leads gently downhill from the driveway and with a sharp turn toward the house, it guides visitors through a gate and into the main garden.

Just before the gate sits a trellis supporting a Clematis ‘Jackmanii’ that bloomed profusely between late March and May. It is left now covered with foliage and seed heads. On the opposite side of the path, flowering cleomes guard a ceramic bird bath. At the corner of the house Rudbeckia hirta ‘Irish Eyes’ is reaching 5 feet tall.

Cleome bloom in front of a ceramic bird bath near the southern entrance gate.

Cleome bloom in front of a ceramic bird bath near the southern entrance gate.

At the driveway end of the walk, a large grouping of fragrant lavender and a few Perovskia atriplicifolia (Russian Sage) are blooming. There are a lot of silvery-leaved plants here. Recently I trimmed back dozens of Lychnis coronaria (Rose Campion) and Stachys byzantina (Lamb’s Ear) which dominated a large portion of this garden in spring. Now bright red blooms of Monarda didyma (Scarlet Beebalm) dot the walkway, toned down a bit by silvery foliage of a nearby Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’ (Wormwood).

Last year hummingbirds zipped through here occasionally, startling me when I was taking pictures.

Southern Side Path

Southern Side Path

The outside of this stone pathway was once lined with Ilex crenata ‘Sky Pencil’ (Sky Pencil Japanese Holly), but now only a couple survive.

Between the river birch near the street and the large round shrub, Buxus microphylla var koreana ‘Wintergreen’ (Wintergreen boxwood), is another little garden full of daffodils and Phlox subulata in spring. Now it is pink with Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower). A garden designer/landscaper who lives in my community told me recently he has begun having trouble with deer eating Echinacea. Deer travel between these two houses regularly and except for a baptisia, they have not bothered these plants this year. I try not to tempt them but it can be hard to know what they will suddenly find delicious.

I have been gathering some notes on the garden so this is an inventory of plants along the southern side path.

Front Drive
Betula nigra (River Birch)

Southern Side Path- Left Side Nearest Neighbor’s House
Phlox subulata ‘Emerald Blue’ (Emerald Blue Phlox)
Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)
Muscari (Grape Hyacinth)
Buxus microphylla var koreana ‘Wintergreen’ (Wintergreen boxwood)
Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Plant)
Hedychium coronarium (Ginger lily)
Lychnis coronaria (Rose Campion)
Stachys byzantina (Lamb’s Ear)
Dianthus barbatus (Sweet William)
Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’ (Wormwood)
Baptisia ‘Purple Smoke’
Ilex crenata ‘Sky Pencil’ (Sky Pencil Japanese Holly)
Cleome hassleriana (Spider Flower)

Southern Path-Right Side Next To House
Lychnis coronaria (Rose Campion)
Iris germanica (Bearded iris)
Creeping Lemon Thyme
Verbena bonariensis (Tall Verbena)
Perovskia atriplicifolia (Russian Sage)
Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’
Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)
Monarda didyma (Scarlet Beebalm)
Muhlenbergia capillaris (Pink Muhly Grass)
Clematis ‘Jackmanii’
Tradescantia (Spiderwort)
Iris tectorum (Japanese Roof Iris)
Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Plant)
Rudbeckia hirta ‘Irish Eyes’

21 thoughts on “A Little Garden On The Side

    1. pbmgarden Post author

      Thanks Michael. The cleome asserted itself but if it hadn’t much of that area would be rather bare, so I’m happy to let it roam for now.

  1. Stepheny Houghtlin

    Wonderful! Again! Your garden continues to change and flourish and wins a blue ribbon for small private garden in North Carolina….well, if I had had blue ribbons to give out that is.

  2. bittster

    That’s quite a list for a small side garden. I always laugh a little when I sit down and tally up what’s growing in one bed or another. Oftentimes there’s more variety in one bed than there is in the entire neighborhood!
    The path has such a nice curve in it. It’s a nice entryway into the back garden.

    1. pbmgarden Post author

      It does seem like a lot of plants. It’s hard to figure out how to keep them all transitioning to keep the border looking full. Too often, this and other parts of the garden look like they’re in an in-between stage. I do like the way the path curves.

    1. pbmgarden Post author

      Charlie, we had several years of severe drought after I planted the Sky Pencils. I lost a lot of other shrubs then too. But also, because they were planted between the two houses, it was very hot in summer and perhaps didn’t get enough light in winter. I definitely recommend trying one though. I think my experience had more to do with poor siting of the plant. I see them thriving in other places around town and they add a strong vertical element, but don’t get too wide.

  3. Pauline

    What a lovely garden you have made down the side of your house, really pretty with it’s winding path. The cleome really stand out, I have never tried them, but who knows, maybe next year?!

  4. pbmgarden Post author

    Thanks very much Pauline. The cleome started as a gift of seedlings from a friend and since then they have adopted me. I think you might enjoy them but they do have a sharp thorn and a sticky sap so don’t plant them where you’ll bump into them.

  5. Cathy

    I always find it so interesting to hear and see what you grow, and the pathway is home to so many lovely plants through the seasons. It’s a lovely welcome to your garden gate! I like the pieces of slate as a path surface too.

  6. gardeninacity

    Monarda and Cleome are a great summer combination. I have the bee balm ‘Raspberry Wine’, also the wild bergamot, monarda fistulosa, which has smaller lavender flowers.

  7. Christina

    I remember how pretty this area is from your posts last year. I think you have been brave to try to make this area interesting through different seasons, the Cleome that I shed doubt on before works really well here.

    1. pbmgarden Post author

      Thanks Christina. Cleome has done well in the side garden. That area is pretty tough to deal with–very dry some of the time, very hot in summer when the sun is high, dark during winter because it’s between two houses, and a traffic highway for deer passing through year-round.

  8. Annette

    The Cleome is really delightful, and I like the snaking path and the view. Is there just a field behind your house? Seems like your next neighbour is a quite a distance away. The evergreen shrubs guide the eye and make good focal points.

    1. pbmgarden Post author

      Thanks Annette. My house is packed close (like sardines) to neighbors on three sides, but the front of our houses face a large oval community “common area”. It’s a nice space that makes it feel more open.

    1. pbmgarden Post author

      Thank you! I will have to refresh myself on the difference in the leaf types, but I found a photo of the plant tag and it was definitely labeled Rudbeckia hirta ‘Irish Eyes’. Do you know what else it might be?


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