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by Dragonfly Blue13 on May 02, 2006 02:57 PM
I have just started gardening within the past few years and am trying to figure out what might have gone wrong. I started a new garden last year in a place that had been scraggly looking lawn. I think the builder carted away all the good topsoil, so our lawn was doomed from the start. In the section of lawn to be converted, I laid newspaper over the anemic lawn to help finish it off and then put topsoil down over it, a good 8-10 inches thick. I planted a variety of plants, the vast majority of which seemed to take very well the first year. I had lots of flowers and nice foliage. This year, I was excited to see plants returning, but I have part of the garden where I am seeing no signs of life. And I thought it odd that most of those plants were all near each other. I'm in zone 5 and the garden receives full sun. Also when the wind does blow (we had some nasty windstorms this year), there is no break to buffer the plants from the wind, its a straight shot across the lawn at them. I'm wondering if that has something to do with it. I'm trying to figure out what went wrong so maybe I can prevent it in the future. I don't know if I selected the wrong plants or if its something else. The plants that are showing zero signs of life so far include:

1 Gaillardia Fanfare
3 Agastache Apache Sunset
3 Rudbeckia Hirta (Gloriosa Daisy)
1 Coreopsis rosea Sweet Dreams
1 Catananche

There may be a couple of others, but the stakes are missing, so I need everything to grow in more before I figure it out. Plants that are growing, and for the most part seem to be thriving, include:

5 Achillea of varying types
3 Coreopsis Verticillata (Moonbeam)
3 Aquilegia Biedermeier
3 Salvia of varying types (oddly enough, one of the salvia borders the plants that aren't doing as well, and its a little smaller than the other 2)
2 Campanula Joan Elliot
6 Campanula Blue Clips (Though they seem small. I'm not sure if they are suppose to be or if they aren't doing as well as they should be.)
1 Lady's Mantle, which was given to me. I found out after the fact its not a full sun plant, but it seemed to do fine last year, and its back again this year.

There are other plants, but that is some of what I have going on. If I could get my hands on a digital camera to borrow I'd take some pictures. If anyone can point me in a direction to investigate what's up, I'd appreciate it. [dunno]

Our house is on the market, so I won't be able to work long term with this garden, but I am hoping to learn for my next. And I'm still eager to tend to the plants I have now until they are no longer mine. I've already figured out I was too ambitious with the new garden from the start. I need to start smaller, and maybe try mass plantings instead of all the plants I see that I like.
by Wrennie on May 03, 2006 02:03 AM
My rudbeckia aren't showing yet either. It's just too early.
I've planted some coreopsis that just dont overwinter here. I guess it depends on variety.
I'm in Z5 in NY

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by alankhart on May 03, 2006 04:53 AM
All of the plants in that list need very good drainage, especially in winter. Rudbeckia hirta is a biennial or short lived perennial, but it often reseeds. Agastache is VERY particular about drainage and isn't the hardiest of plants to begin with. So, if you had a wet winter or the soil stayed too wet, that may be the problem. Also, top soil isn't the best soil to use in a garden because it doesn't conatin the nutrients needed for plants to thrive. Next time consider getting compost instead. Hope this helps.

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by tkhooper on May 03, 2006 06:41 AM
I so understand your comment about every plant that you see that you like. I'm doing that with my garden. Every plant that I see that I like I try and get a few and plant them in my little garden area. I think that's called specimen gardening. And I love it. I'm also trying to make sure I have something blooming in the garden all year long. So far so good but I need to add more stuff for the fall. Right now I'm depending on my mums from last year, some columbine and miniature snapdragons. But that's about it for fall color so far. I also have herbs interspersed throughout my gardening space. All of which is doing good except the rosemary which hates me.

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by netty on May 03, 2006 09:43 AM
I'm in zone 5 too, and my Gaillardia and Pink Coreopsis are just beginning to sprout. The Gloriosa Daisy's are biennials and won't grow again, but you should soon see some babies sprouting if you didn't deadhead last year. There is no sign of my Agastache yet either. Maybe you just need to give them more time.

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by Dragonfly Blue13 on May 03, 2006 02:02 PM
Thank you everyone for the answers and help. [clappy] All the plants are next to each other, and I didn't know if it was just dumb luck that maybe I planted late starters altogether or that I was missing something that needs correcting.

Wrennie - Thanks, that is encouraging. I quite enjoyed the Rudbeckia last year. My Coreopsis Moonbeam is growing like crazy. Perhaps the Sweet Dreams is one that just didn't overwinter well.

Alan - Yes that helps a lot. I will definitely keep it in mind for the next house and garden. We didn't have a lot of snow this year, and the snow we did get seemed to melt before the next storm. The agastache had a wonderful root beer scent to the foliage, but perhaps at the next house I'll start with plants that aren't as fussy until I get my gardening feet under me.

TK - I heard a speaker describe a friend who did the specimen gardening as gardening in drifts of 1. This garden is in drifts of 1-3. Whenever we do move, I thinking about setting aside an area for continuing that, trying out all the plants I see that I want. I'd like to get some mass plantings in as well to get the nice areas of color. Last year for fall color I had asters, Alma Potschke. They are coming in very well already this year.

Netty - Thanks. I didn't deadhead, hoping some of them would re-seed themselves. I have Gaillardia Dazzler in my foundation gardening. Some of them are just sprouting, while others have had a lot of foliage growth. And I have 2 babies sprouting this year, which thrilled me. Maybe I am being impatient. I just have had so much growth on other plants already, I started to think that I was being over optimistic just waiting and I was really looking at dead plants. I didn't know what to expect this spring.


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