Henbit is a weed. So?

I first saw Henbit (Lamium amplexicaule) Henbit at Powell Garden 20150406_134746on a visit to Powell Gardens.  I thought it was gorgeous.  I still think so.  Then I started to see it everywhere, in every field.  It is a  self-sowing annual, and in farm fields I’m sure it is regarded as quite pernicious—though since it appears year after year, I suspect nobody has any idea how to eradicate it.

And I realize that I don’t really want to eradicate it.

There are areas in my garden which are still in planning stages.  I’m slowly improving the soil, adding compost, helping to make beds that my designed plants will succeed in.

And every year I get a bumper crop of Henbit.  And I try to kill it.  And I fail, just like everybody else.

So I took another look…and I have now decided to incorporate it into the plans.  I will seed with mini-clover, and those beds will—until I get them properly planted—look tended rather than weedy.  And the clover will improve the soil as well.  I will remove all the other weeds, but the henbit?  Why?

I still think it is gorgeous.  I may even make a stake labelling it!  So there!

A Succession Garden

I’ve  been giving talks and writing about the subject of Succession Gardens, that is one space that has a succession of plants appearing through the season.  It’s great for a small garden, because you can have several gardens in the same small space.

The classic, of course, is bulbs.  One plants Tulips or Daffodils, and then they die down and you plant something else to – hopefully – cover their dying leaves.

I have a slightly different succession garden right outside our living/dining room, and it’s working.

Last year I planted a huge bed of Nepeta Blue WonderNepeta Blue Wonder (350 plants–this is not a small garden, just a small space within the huge garden), a very low-growing Catmint, to act as an all-summer groundcover.

Last fall I put 200 Allium aflatunense Allium aflatunensein among the Nepeta.

And a couple of weeks ago I seeded red Poppies Papaver rhoes. field.throughout the bed.

Since last year there were Cleome Cleomeeverywhere, they should have re-seeded and will be coming back.  There were also some Purple ConeflowersEchinacea purpurea, a gift from a neighbor, and they should come back and spread.  And next year I am going to seed some Verbena bonariensis alsoVerbena bonariensis.closeup.

Well, the Nepetas are looking wonderful.  I cut them back a couple of weeks ago and they are poking their little curly heads out.

The Alliums are coming up in wonderful contrast.  Their stiff vertical leaves among the curls of the Nepetas already look interesting.  By early summer the Nepetas will be in bloom.  The Alliums will bloom a few weeks later.  And the Poppies after that.  Then, when the color from the Alliums and Poppies is gone,  the Cleomes and Purple Coneflowers should start blooming.  The  bed will be full of color all season, but changing all the time.

I can’t show an image of what the whole bed will look like at once, because that is the point.  There is no “all at once”.

It will keep changing.

That is what I enjoy about Succession Planting.  In fact, that is what I enjoy about gardening.