The Red Grill Garden
Daydreaming about my garden is one of the ways I get through dreary winter days. I keep myself entertained by fantasizing about what I'm going to plant or move around next. As the catalogs start rolling in, I start in on my list of what I want more of and what I want to add.
I like experimenting with new plants, but sometimes the ones I end up with aren’t always what I originally had in mind. Last spring I was all set to plant our back patio with soft combinations of the pastel and silver plants I had accumulated on my wish list during the winter. It didn't work out that way though, here's what happened instead.
Around the end April, my husband stomped in from the back patio after trying to start our gas grill. “It’s dead,” he informed me grumpily. I didn’t pay much attention, grilling was the last thing on my mind. I was focused on my garden redo and what I was going to plant to replace the long strip of weeds growing along the back fence. My little fantasy of pastel color combinations came to an abrupt halt a week later when he brought home a shiny new red grill and proudly plunked it in the corner of the bed I was about to plant. This wasn’t exactly the focal point I had in mind, or the color scheme. I held my tongue though, I knew this was a battle I wasn’t going to win when he started showing it off to all his friends.
Yes, here it is in all it's redness. Actually, I liked it-just not in my garden.
Switching gears on the color scheme, I decided to go with a border of cut flowers that would harmonize with the grill. Even though hot colors have never been part of my repertoire, I discovered several that have won me over. In addition to being bright and bouncy, they don’t seem to mind the hot, dry conditions they must endure on our patio.
The hot pink zinnia goes well with the grill, don't you think?
I love zinnias, but can't grow them anywhere else on the property because the rabbits munch them down to little nubs. In this garden they're a little more protected and I can keep my eye on watering since it's close to the house. This little beauty is a new variety, Zinnia 'Uproar Rose' (about 4' in height). I paired it up with Rudbeckia 'Henry Eilers'- a perennial of similar size. I loved cutting them for bouquets and they pumped out blooms until frost hit them.
Here's another that won my heart - Agastache ‘Raspberry Nectar’ is a member of the mint family, only this one doesn’t spread all over the place. It has just about everything you could ask for - a long bloom period, aromatic foliage and few pest problems. Plus, it provides a place for the birds, bees and hummingbirds to congregate and buzz about. It’s technically a perennial if you live in zone 6 or above, but I count it as an annual here in my zone 5 garden. It stands about 2 feet high and has rich red spires that contrast boldly against anything in the garden or an arrangement.
Alongside it, I planted Coreopsis ‘Mercury Rising’. Here it is winding its small dark ruby petals through the poppies and the neighboring Agastache. It looked small and insignificant when I first put it in, but quickly spread all over the place. This little gem is a new perennial introduction in Monrovia’s Big Bang series and is hardy to zone 5. Some of the coreopsis varieties I’ve tried tend to piddle out during the summer, but this one keeps on trucking. It’s an eye-catching combination I didn’t plan, but I’ll take it - either in the garden or a vase.
Over the summer we began referring to the new border as the ‘red grill garden.’ The name stuck and it became our favorite place to hang out. I must admit that some of my best garden combinations have happened accidentally. And though I hate to say it, the red grill and hot color combos have grown on me.
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