I want a symphony of blooms that changes every year. The brick pathway in my front yard leads to an oversize birdbath, and I like to think the birds come to bathe in the water but stay for the scenery.
This pathway is where I like to pack in the color because you can enjoy this bed from both inside and out. Visitors can get up close as they walk to the front door. They also can see it from indoors, centered right in the middle of a picture window. So I must create a pretty picture.
This year my pathway planting will be cleome, petunias and alyssum. I'm planting in a pattern, repeating the same family of tall, medium and low-growing plants all along the narrow border: tall cleome, medium petunias and low alyssum. Watch the video to see the pattern unfold.
The Papa Plant. Cleome is my tallest "big daddy" plant. I've never grown this annual, with spiderlike flowers. I've read that cleome can take heat, but this bed is only partly sunny. We'll see how it does. You can substitute a more common geranium for the upright cleome.
The Mama Plant. Compact petunias, such as this Supertunia I'm using, have rounded forms. I like the soft color of the Watermelon Supertunia with the lavender cleome. I position the petunia slightly off center toward the back of the narrow bed. Some petunias are not so compact and spread out like groundcovers, so you have to read the plant tags if you have a rather narrow planting bed, like mine.
The Little Twins. White alyssums go along the edge of the pathway, looking like a ruffle of white lace peeking from beneath the skirt of the larger plants. I also love how alyssums reseed in the cracks of the bricks as summer wears on. I've tried other edgy plants along the brick border but always come back to dependable alyssums.
Maintenance matters, and annuals need fertilizing to keep them in full bloom. I mix Osmocote into the soil at planting time and also incorporate compost into the bed to help the soil hold water. I improve the soil and add the Osmocote section by section for each planting family, working around any spring bulbs, like the tulips still in flower. For even more color I add hanging baskets on pedestals in the path.
Once I get one family unit installed, I just keep repeating the same pattern - Papa, Mama and two babies - down the length of the path. A repeating planting pattern is like a familiar melody that pleases the eye instead of the ear.
Now all that's needed are some sunny days, and this symphony of bloom will have me dancing down that path.
So has anyone else tried growing cleome?