I have just enough time to complete a small project on Memorial Day weekend. What do you recommend?
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I have a fantastic plan for you – – a Mailbox Garden! It is a perfect one or two-day project that anyone can do!
My first garden at our current home was the mailbox garden (seen at the right). A mailbox garden can be incredibly simple to create and easy to maintain. In my mind, there are only four basic plants needed to make a spectacular mailbox garden: a climber, a tall perennial, a medium perennial, and a low perennial. You can, of course, plant annuals, bushes, trees, and whatever your imagination can create on your site. But I’ve found the easiest and simplest is the climber and three perennial combinations.
First, dig up the grass (or weeds) all-around your mailbox. I would make it a little less than three feet by three feet initially – keep it simple. Add soil amendments appropriate for your region, add long-acting fertilizer granules, and dig in well. For visual appeal, I attached a metal six-foot-tall trellis to the back of my mailbox. It is not something that is required as a climber will climb the mailbox no matter what, but it enabled me to support a larger climbing clematis for the full sun location.
Before planting, set your plants out where you intend to plant them while they are still in their pots and “eyeball” the site. Make sure it looks good together. Set the climbing vine directly behind the mailbox pole, the lowest perennial in front of the mailbox, and the other two plants behind the mailbox in the larger dug area. Once you get them placed well, gently pull the plants out of their pots, dig holes, and plant them. Mulch well and water it in – you are done! Now wasn’t that easy?
My plant recommendations for a part-sun to full sun area include a Clematis as the climber. Clematis love to have their roots mulched and cool. Therefore, mulching is absolutely critical. If you want all summer blooming speak with your nursery expert – there are several varieties that flower most of the summer, including “The President”, “Rosemoor” and the traditional “Jackmanii”. The tall perennial could be either Perovskia Atriplicifolia (“Russian Sage”) or Phlox Paniculata (Tall Garden Phlox – a good mildew resistant variety is “David”). A medium perennial could be either Rudbeckia Fulgida Sullivantii (“Goldsturm”) or Chrysanthemum superbum Shasta Daisy (“Becky Shasta Daisy”). A low perennial might be STACHYS (“Lamb’s Ears”) or Artemesia (“Silver Mound” or “Silver Brocade”).
For a part-shade to a shady area, Clematis might again be the climber, however, they do best with at least half sun, so speak with your nursery expert about a climbing plant for your site. The tall perennial could be either Ligularia Dentata Desdemona (“Golden Groundsel Ligularia”) or a taller Hosta (“Krossa Regal” or “Sum and Substance”). A medium perennial could be either Alchemilla Mollis (“Lady’s Mantle”) or Hosta (“The Patriot”) or for medium to tall – Dicentra Spectablis (“Bleeding Heart”). A low perennial might be Heuchera (any variety) or Carex (any variety).
To expand the mailbox garden and make it fuller, widen the beds and add one climber and three of each perennial; three tall perennials, three medium perennials, and three low perennials all of the same variety.