Design Challenge

This landless gardener has been quite busy in the gardens as of late. How do you manage that? you may ask. Easy! I am a volunteer gardener with the Adopt-a-Plot program at Ault Park, a Cincinnati park just a hop, skip and a jump from my house. Rich in history, full of activity and alive with plant and animal life, Ault Park is a true gem of our city. For someone like myself who does not own a speck of land to call my own, having this park is a real treat.


Like many cities across the country, my hometown is dealing with financial woes. As a result the parks are working with limited staff. Add to that the abundance of rain and warm weather has all the plants in high gear. Things are beyond lush. And to top it off, I have a bit of a gardening obsession, (but what gardener doesn’t?). Long story short, I recently got permission to work on some areas within the Adopt-a-Plot grounds that are not officially gardens, but are rather noticeable. I want to help the park by pitching in more while feeding my garden obsession. I call my new garden The Covert Garden.

Here is where you all come in. Horticulture readers are by far the smartest, most gifted gardeners there are so I would be remiss not to ask for your design and plant ideas for The Covert Garden.

What you need to know: I do not want to overpower or distract from Shades of Lavender, an official Adopt-a-Plot garden. I need to preserve a walkway at the back of the garden space so workers can access the adjoining garden. I do not need large trees or shrubs; the park has ample trees and shrubs and in the winter the view from this area is quite nice. I will have to carry in my water. The soil is rich and well draining. So my expert gardening friends, what plants would you like to see in this zone 6a garden?
(The Covert Garden, above and Shades of Lavender, right)

Jenny Koester, AKA The Landless Gardener, is the Garden Blog Editor for Horticulture magazine and the author of The Garden Life and A Year in the Park.

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11 thoughts on “Design Challenge

    • Great question. I do not know. I never grew moss and would have to do a bit of research to see if this sunny spot would work. If this is not the spot, I have other areas I coudl try growing moss in the park.

  1. I know you said you don’t want shrubs but to me some small boxwood (‘Green Gem’, ‘Green Velvet’) would be nice to set off the lavender. Can’t help it, I’m a boxwood fan and they look great with lavender. In front of those I would put coreopsis, like Pat suggested, a low, airy, light yellow one like ‘Moonbeam’. And some low catmint — I’m happy with my ‘Little Titch’ — and ornamental chives, to tie up the “purple herb” theme.

    • There are a few boxwoods in Shades of Lavender so adding a few along the back of The Covert Garden, perhaps along the wall, is a great idea! Not too tall to block the Bottlebrush Buckeye or the view and will tie the two gardens together.

  2. Looks like a lot of foliage behind the lavendar. I think I would tear out the lambs’ ear if that is what I am seeing in the picture. I like the soft leaves but they get so messy looking. Maybe go with a low-growing variety of coreopsis or veronica since I favor flowers.

    • Yes, lots of lamb’s ears and you are seeing after I cleared some out. I agree, they can look ratty when they bloom so I keep mine cut back. Now, if some smart person would make a lambs’ ear that has short flower stalks that would be wonderful!

  3. What is the exposure? How close will you be planting to this area? I see big foliage to compliment the airiness of the lavender. Or dark bluish foliage, like a holly.

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