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Truth be told, I’ve always struggled with planning out my garden beds. Here’s how the story usually goes… I walk around a nursery, pick up some random plants that look cool, and stick them in the ground. Then half of what I planted inevitably dies, and the other half just looks out of place in the garden. So this year I decided to rip out some old plants and start fresh, with a really simple layout featuring hardy azaleas and hostas.
I chose the ENCORE Autumn Sunburst Azaleas as the feature plants in my new garden bed. Azaleas are known for being low-maintenance, hardy, flowering shrubs that thrive in part-sun to full-sun. The description of the Autumn Sunburst reads:
Autumn Sunburst is a bright highlight in the garden, growing compactly and blooming profusely in spring, summer and fall. Its unique blooms are coral pink with white ruffled edges and stand out against the compact dark green foliage.
I love the uniqueness of the blooms! The coral pink is gorgeous, and the contrast of the white edges is striking. ENCORE says their azaleas bloom three times a year: spring, summer, and fall. Here’s how the plants look now, with some blooms still in June.
I chose the Patriot Hosta as the accent plants in my new garden bed. The Patriot Hosta is known for being more heat tolerant than other varieties. The leaves are glossy and dark green with light-yellow to white edges.
Hostas thrive in part-shade, part-sun conditions. At first I was concerned the front of my house gets too much sun for hostas. Then I noticed my next door neighbor has a gigantic hosta in front of their house, living his best life! I think mine will do just fine.
I picked up young hostas from Lowes for about $5 a plant, which is a bargain for such a hardy plant that will grow back year after year. Here’s how the little plants look now.
Soil preparation and garden borders
My soil does have some clay, so I used this amendment to help with irrigation and nutrients. I broke up the existing soil in a wide hole for each plant, then mixed a good bit of this product. It says you can use this product as mulch, which I might try next spring.
I planted some creeping ground cover plants a couple of years ago, which look really beautiful in the spring with colorful little blooms. One of the plants, a lithodora, produces deep blue blossoms over dark green leaves. There’s a noticeable gap in my ground cover right now where something might have died, so I think I should plant another lithodora! It’s so gorgeous.
Finally, my front garden beds are edged with river rock. I love the contrast when the ground cover flows over the hardscape of the stone.
Wish me luck that everything survives the winter! I’m going to nurture the heck out of these little guys, because I finally think I have a simple, low-maintenance garden that will look beautiful for years. Let me know in the comments below if you have experience planting ENCORE azaleas and patriot hostas!