It would be easy to claim, with perfect 20/20 hindsight, that the Xeric Garden was always part of our master landscaping plan. It would, however, be a fib. The xeric garden began as a disgusted response to a six-foot by ten-foot patch of weeds where no grass would grow. Betty hoed up the weeds and planted some catmint (nepeta) in the spot, flanked by some Joe Pye weed (eupatorium) that thrived in an equally inhospitable nearby spot. The two cultivars grew happily despite searing, all-day sun and benign neglect.
Which is what led to that first experiment five years ago. For the first five or six years we lived on Wild Holly Lane, we did everything possible to grow grass in the easement. We seeded, transplanted, sodded and pampered the area, all to no avail. In hindsight, it made no sense because, fifteen feet away, we were ripping out grass to continually expand our street-side shrub bed.
The six accompanying photos (double-click on them to get a full-screen view) show the Xeric garden as it looked this morning, June 14. I've walked around the beds (plural because it is bisected by the driveway) clockwise starting from the east. In the top photo, the yellow flowering shrub is genista, which has a roughly three-week bloom in June. The grasses will send up plumes in August. The daffodil greens in the foreground will be cut down in July as they yellow; the entire bed is heavily planted in spring bulbs. The second photo picks up the bed at the nepeta in full bloom. It is about to be severely trimmed back to give the variegated eupatorium between the two clusters time to grow and bloom in August. In the foreground is one of the dozen or so sedem plantings that will enliven the fall, and just starting to grow is a bed of agastache that will start blooming in late August and still have its azure blue flower stalks into October. Beyond the catmint is more eupatorium which, if the deer leave it alone, will bloom in August.
The Xeric garden attracts bees and butterflies, as well as lots of walkers. Alas, none of our neighbors have evinced an interest in following our lead to creating a prettier - and more ecologically prudent - easement.