I have a stone terrace in front of my house and I had a garden bed
constructed there. It's a stone "bed" about 2 feet high, 8 feet long and
three feet deep. I filled it with mostly sand and stone - and bits of
broken terra cotta tiles, which are everywhere here - and then put about
6 inches of bagged planting soil on top of that. This bed gets a tiny
bit of morning sun, then shade through most of the day and then a brutal
session of hot afternoon sun.
This year I planted geraniums, fuchsias and impatiens, and also put in
some nastutium seeds. THe geraniums seem very happy. The the impatiens
that get the least amount of sun are very happy, those that get more sun
in the afternoon are dramatically unhappy, and I've positioned a beach
umbrella to shade them through the worst of the hot sun. The fuchsias
are in pots and I ended up moving them from this garden because they
wilted so dramatically - it also gets hot in this garden, which has high
walls on all sides. The nasturtiums are strange - they have put out
leaves that will soon take over the whole yard, but have just started
producing a few flowers in the last week or so.
So now I'm trying to figure out what to plan for next year. The
geraniums are happy, but I'd like to have something to give a bit of
variety, and I'd rather not have to be worrying about an umbrella to
shade the impatiens at the end of the garden. Any ideas?
Also, last winter I planted pansies in this bed and they didn't flower
at all until late in the spring because the garden gets almost no sun
through the winter. (I'm in the South of France, where the winters are
mild.) Any ideas for something to give some color to the winter garden?
First, you haven't told us where you live. What works in Miami wouldn't
work in Anchorage. But from what you have said, I would think that any sun
annual would work. Again, its hard to recommend winter blooming plants
since we don't know what zone you are in. There really aren't ANY winter
blooming plants where I live - maybe early spring, but not winter. You
could put in some evergreens, but six inches of soil in a raised bed would
be a tough situation for most shrubs.
You could try calendula and snap dragons in the sunnier spots, they
work here in a similar clime... i.e. Central Texas. But shade in the
winter is hard. Maybe a susquanna camellia in a pot and move it to a
shadier place in the summer. The nasturtiums might do better in the
winter. Sorry not much help.
Oh, yes, snapdragons are a very good idea. If they don't work in the
front courtyard, where there isn't much sun in the winter, they will be
very good as winter flowers in the garden behind the house. Hmmm. I'm
wondering is hostas might work in the front.
I don't have direct experience in that particular climate, but I do have
experience growing flowers on balconies with that go from absolute shade
most of the day to blistering heat for a few hours. Petunias seem pretty
tolerant of such conditions, but they do get leggy after a while so they
probably wouldn't be a good choice to overwinter. Begonias also seem to
do well in the same conditions as impatiens, so you might try those.
If you don't get enough sun in the winter, though, you might consider
mixing in some foliage plants for interest--you can work with different
leaf textures and colors to achieve interesting aesthetic affects that
are subtler than blooming plants (but with a such a small terrace garden
you can also perk up things up the color dept. with garden art. Some
ideas are coleus, caladium, ferns, and hostas.
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