Sunday, June 2, 2013

Lowe's Creative Ideas: Summer Bulbs Dress Up a Dry Bed


We have a section of our largest garden that has never made me happy as long as the garden has been in existence.  It's a bit of a difficult area, design-wise and being a design-challenged gardener, I just never really knew what to do there.

Then I got an idea.  Let me set the stage for you.

This area of the garden is a mixed bag.  Due to the trees getting larger, we have more shade than we used to.  Any sun that does hit part of the area is morning sun, which is actually easier to work with than if it were afternoon sun.  It's also a fairly wet area, in comparison to the rest of the garden. And it's smack dab in the middle, with no easy way to get to it to care for plants there.

So here was the plan:  Make a dry bed.  A dry bed is a little waterway, like a teeny creek, if you will, except that it's got no water.  No water until you get a major rain, that is. And then that's okay, because by virtue of its design, it can handle quite a heavy rain before flooding. All that water has a place to go!

Here's what the area looked like before I got started:


Yes, that's bare ground you see, because I just didn't know what to do with it.  It's pretty dry in this photo and you know what happens when a typically wet area with native clay soil and no vegetation gets baked by the sun - it becomes hard and cracks develop.  We have amended it with compost somewhat, but since there was no plan for planting, it got neglected.

Not only that, because nothing was planted there, we used it for walking around to get to the areas of the garden adjacent to it.  So soil compaction made things even worse.  I let the Sedum acre do its thing because well, I didn't know what I wanted to do there anyway.

So...one dry bed coming right up!

First things first - I started digging the bed, making it deeper in the middle and sloping the sides. That's to help excess water drain into this area.


Then I put a very lightweight landscape fabric down - the kind that is made of a sort of paper and very permeable, but will suppress weeds.


We live out in farm country, and the fields around us are peppered with rocks.  Every now and then, we'll take a walk out into the field with buckets and gather them up.  The farmer benefits, because those rocks wreak havoc on their equipment, and we benefit because we use those rocks in our gardens.


After a couple of trips through the corn field behind us, we had enough rocks to line the dry bed. Smaller gravel was added to fill in the spaces between the rocks.


Then, the planting.  Paying attention to what was full shade, part sun, and full sun, most of the new plantings involved bulbs.  Some Asiatic lilies were already in place, but Caladium bulbs were added across the way.  Caladiums do bloom, but their best asset is their giant foliage that comes in assorted colors and white.  I chose the white ones here for the shadier part of this garden.


I also planted Tropicanna® cannas, which are a favorite of mine, also for their foliage, but they get bright tangerine blooms later in the season too.

Dahlia Dark Angels Star Wars
It's early, and the weather has been generally cool, so the dahlias aren't
in full bloom yet.

Finally, I planted some Caladium bulbs in the center of the giant terra cotta pot and dahlias on the outer edges.  Caladiums are generally a shade plant, but they will take a little morning sun, so they should be fine here.

Another benefit of having the dry bed is that we can walk on it if we need to!  While it's not a proper path through the garden, it can function that way when necessary.

I now love this part of the garden that I used to despise.




Materials:

Landscape fabric  ($9.97)
Dahlias (3 x $7.98)
Tropicanna cannas (2 x $16.98)
Caladiums (3 x $8.98)
River rock (3 x $2.47)

Some of the materials for this project we already had, but you can find everything you need to do it at Lowe's.  See more Lowe's Creative Ideas here! And other Lowe's Creative Ideas Bloggers here!







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Lowe's Home Improvement provided me with gift cards for the purpose of purchasing the materials needed to complete this project.

3 comments:

Julie said...

I love it, Kylee! We have an area in the front garden that would be perfect for a dry bed. It's a small river when we have a downpour, so we have quite some erosion. I think this would be a fabulous solution. It's basically full shade, so I'll need to tweak the plantings. Still, I love your idea! Thanks so much for sharing!

Renata said...

Looks great Kylee1 I love how the dry bed meanders and the plants are beautiful. Great job, so you are not design challenged after all.

Shana said...

What a great idea for a different style garden. It's woodsy and wet here in Atlanta. A dry bed would break up some of the wilderness and looks easy to install and maintain.

Shana with Low Voltage Atlanta- http://www.cfasecurity.com

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