After my article on how different Peony cultivars grow at very different speeds, I had a question from Tia (*waves*) asking what the bed looked like, once the Peonies were over.
That's a very perceptive question!
This - right - is the same Peony Bed in December, from slightly further back, and as you can see, it's pretty empty: typical of many herbaceous perennial beds through winter and into spring.
At the bottom of this photo, you can see the tip of a variegated Box ball, there's one on each side of the path, for symmetry: and there is a Rosa Mundi versicolour behind it, inside the round metal frame.
Just out of sight at the top of the picture is a large Hydrangea.
As you can see, we mulch this bed with bark chippings. and it has an edging of Ipheon, on the right, which are spring-flowering bulbs.
You might just be able to see that there are a couple of clumps of "other stuff" towards the left-hand edge of the bed - these are Iris sibirica, and Tradescantia: but the Peonies carry the burden of this bed, through the summer.
Well, here's the Peony Bed in late June: we're looking at it from the opposite angle.
This cunningly means that we have the other bed, the one beyond the shingle path, providing some taller plants which will continue flowering into summer: there is a dark red rose (L.D. Braithwaite, glorious scent), a whole mass of Bearded Iris and purple Gladioli, and a run of Margaret Merrill white roses.
Now you can see that the Barrington Belle Peony is still flowering, with the dark red flowers: they look almost purple in this photo.
That was the Peony which was barely showing buds in March: and, as it is the last to start, so it is the last to finish.
The other two are finished with flowering, and have been dead-headed.
This prevents them wasting energy on making seeds, and allows them to stock up their tubers, ready for next year. It also looks better - get rid of anything brown and dead-looking, that's my motto! Every week, after flowering, I would check the foliage and cut back progressively, as the flowering stems died back, in order to leave good green foliage for as long as possible.
We usually fill the spaces in the "front" (from this angle) of this bed with annual Cosmos, in white, and often with Nigella (blue), plus - to be perfectly honest - anything from elsewhere in the garden that needs a temporary home.
Once the Peonies are truly over, we are left with the Rosa Mundi versicolour and the Box ball at one end, and the Hydrangea at the other end, and we rely on the annual Cosmos and other oddments to fill the space until we're back to autumn again, at which point all the herbaceous material is cleared away, a fresh layer of mulch is added, and that's it until spring!
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