Mistletoe Heights Yard of the Month

May 2018: 2301 Mistletoe Blvd.

Greetings, neighbors!

Well, we may not have had many April showers, but that sure hasn’t stopped the flowers in the spacious yard of Megan, Kelley, River, and Ruby Reece, where the changing display has been beautifying the corner of Mistletoe Blvd and Forest Park (2301 Mistletoe Blvd, to be exact) for over a month now.

As I write, large expanses of pale pink phlox, near the sidewalk on either side of the front walk, are in full splendor. (These lovely specimens are about 10-12 inches tall, that is, taller and a month later to bloom than their low-growing purple-pink cousins, but shorter and a couple months earlier than the 16-18” later summer variety. There’s also a low, red-violet one blooming now elsewhere in the neighborhood.) You could have phlox from late winter to fall; just make sure to get the height and bloom time that fits your garden’s needs.) Also vibrant right now are the masses of yellow columbine toward the east end of the front porch wall and also at the far west end of the yard, where they sit at the front of a deep bed with red Knock-out roses behind them and a well-maintained privacy fence as backdrop. A walk by the Reeces’ yard at this time will also reward you with many smaller pops of color, especially along the drive, where, on one side, there’s a patch of bright yellow Sundrops evening primrose, a luxuriant mound of white blackfoot daisies, a pink carpet rose, some newly planted yellow marigolds, and patches of silver-green lamb’s ear and purpleheart (the perennial version of wandering Jew). On the other side of the drive are several low-growing deep blue salvias, along with more marigolds and Sundrops. If you’d walked by a week or two ago, your eye would have been caught by the grouping of pink cheddar dianthus in the front corner of this bed; though their major bloom time has mostly passed, they will keep flowering in smaller quantities for a while longer, and their spiky grey-green foliage is attractive year round. And, next to them is another large mass of yet-to-bloom pink blanket flower.

Let me say a bit about the structure of this beautifully designed garden. The plantings start at the Forest Park sidewalk (the far east edge of the lot), curving in front of a privacy fence on the east side of the house, then along the porch wall, and finally moving forward along the east side of the driveway in a wide sweep to the front (Mistletoe) sidewalk. Similarly, the bed on the west side of the drive starts wide at the sidewalk and then curves back and then west along the fence. The size of the lot allows for deep beds with substantial, structure-providing shrubs and multiple layers of plantings, as well as the masses of color I’ve mentioned. Prominent anchor points are two mountain laurel trees, one at the east end of the porch and another just west of the driveway, which had white blooms earlier in the season and will sport bird-pleasing berries later on. These are fast-growing trees, and large enough to make a statement, but not enough to overgrow their space. Other anchor points are the pink crepe myrtle, near the front sidewalk, and the yellow-flowering yucca, not far from the second mountain laurel.

Also used very effectively are the numerous Cleyera bushes that trace most of the curve of the bed from on the east side of the yard and are matched by a curving line of similar-but-different Indian hawthorn bushes in the west-side bed. These mid-size (about 30” tall and wide) shrubs have plantings both in back and in front of them or, as they come forward along the driveway, on either side. Thus, in front of the eastside fence and along the porch wall, the line of Cleyeras begins where a large mass of fall-blooming obedient plants tapers off. They then provide a backdrop to what will be a mass of sunflowers, then peach-colored iris (just finishing their season), pink and white dianthus, hostas, the yellow columbines, a white astilbe, and 3 blue plumbagos and a patch of daylilies, just starting to bloom. At the same time, the Cleyeras presently all but hide a row of hydrangeas that will be blooming like crazy in another month or so. The line of Indian hawthorns on the west side of the garden is backed by tall, purple-leafed loropetalum (Chinese fringeflower) bushes along the fence, with daylilies, irises, and hostas in front.

What I really love, design-wise, about the use of these bed-delineating shrubs, is what happens as the beds come toward the street on each side of the driveway. Here, their center-of-the-bed placement allows for lower plantings on both sides. I’ve already mentioned the variety of colorful flowers immediately on either side of the drive. But others are tucked in between the shrubs and the lawn, including blue scabiosas (pincushions), small hostas, lamb’s ear, cosmos, and a striking, taller, red-and-white flowering salvia.

As someone who tries to maintain a much smaller garden, I can tell you how much work (and love!) Megan puts in to these fabulous beds that have enriched our neighborhood for a number of years now. Thanks to her and her family for all they do for Mistletoe Heights!

- Claudia Camp

P.S. And to add bounty to bounty, Megan has just texted me to mention some new additions and changes: look for a prominently placed Mexican bush sage by the front steps, pink Turks cap under the walnut tree at the far west end of the yard, and some “summer jewel” red salvia yet to be placed! And, did I mention the lovely porch plants…?