Bed 1 (triangle bed, by front door, west side)

General description

This is the largest of all the beds on the southern side of the school building; it is also a focal point of interest as one heads into the doors, with the Grad Garden (Bed 6) on the other side of the courtyard. It includes 3 Multistem Grey Birch trees and a line of fairly invasive Red Osier Dogwood along the school wall, a number of low Tamarix Juniper shrubs, as well as two flagpoles and a lamp post.

3, 6 June 2016

Have made significant inroads on the prickly weeds and others over the past two sessions: there are patches of bare earth now visible 🙂 The juniper shrubs are also now easier to see. Looks like a lot of purple echinacea and rudbeckia (blanket flower) are coming up but nothing’s in bloom — the spring plants (bleeding heart, forget-me-not, mini-iris) are now all finished.

31 May 2016

Began weeding (in from the parking lot side) — roots come out sooo easily because the soil is dry, like dust. Some have already gone to seed, so it’s high time they were bagged and removed.

13 May 2016

Right now: some nice clusters of blue forget-me-nots and pink bleeding hearts under one of the birches. As these spread, the colour combinations is very pleasant in mid-spring. As well, there are mini-iris just coming into bloom: yellow, white, and purple. Iris will spread over time, so they should eventually yield a good solid splash of colour — not to mention taking away space from spring weeds!

Three or four weeks ago, under the birch near the flagpoles, there had been small bulbs: yellow aconites, and blue and white scilla. Planted in the fall of 2014, there seem to have been a few more than last spring, so hopefully they will continue to spread. Also in bloom at that time:  4 yellow primulas. Closer to the school, there were a few small clumps of daffodils and hyacinth.

Other perennials not yet in bloom: purple echinacea, blanket flower, yellow Lady’s mantle, hostas. Along the windows there are tall purple phlox, which will gradually spread.

To do:

  • Front edge (courtyard side) always need work, as it gets a lot of salt and stone-dust from the winter. Indeed, a 1-metre wide strip is almost a no-man’s land as far as plants go. Two years ago, a teacher spread cedar mulch thickly along the edge — it’s now all gone. But the result was a very clean edge, so perhaps that’s the thing to do for this edge: weed as much as possible and then apply mulch annually, to cover up the `junk’.
  • The bed has been worked on from this front edge inwards, towards the middle. So it’s probably best to tackle weeding from the other side —  starting from the west corner of the building (`chef’s side’, as it were) and moving towards the main courtyard.
  • Other tasks: prune dead branches from the low shrubs (being VERY careful not to step on plants just coming up); pull weeds (esp. the prickly ones — these require deep digging to get the full roots, some of which go horizontally under the ground); prune dead branches from the birches and bushes along the school wall, as well as prune for better shape (a very subjective activity 🙂 ).

This is the bed that has received most attention over the years, but in fits and starts, so each year it’s a battle between clearing out weeds and putting in plants to take away space from more weeds. And perennials take a few years to become established, so some win out against the weedy competition, and some don’t.

This is also the bed where I have stashed plants-in-waiting, either in pots or in the ground: small lilac, a purple smokebush. As well, there is a 2- or 3-year old pile of soil at the western corner of the bed, on a tarp which is hardly visible for the weeds. It’s now much reduced in size, but once weeded, should provide a bit of additional soil for the bed.

The mini-iris will eventually need to be divided, which means they can form the basis of a school plant sale. Same with the tall purple phlox, and perhaps also the forget-me-nots and bleeding heart. This idea of perennials that need dividing (once they finally fill up their spaces) is one of the factors in choosing plants for the beds.

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