Natural Beauty

A Border Brings Splendor and Pollinators

By Teresa Woodard

Two years ago, Debra and I had the opportunity to revamp an outdated 85-foot border with a natural-style one at the entrance of Hidden Creek, a 600-acre conservation development west of Columbus. While the charming entry with its stone wall and brick-trimmed gatehouse originally had a border of zebra grasses, daylilies, shrub roses and taxus, the plants had become overgrown and dated. We were challenged to bring a fresh look more in keeping with the development’s conservation purpose. The border also needed to be aesthetically pleasing with four seasons of interest, require minimal maintenance, offer pollinator appeal, tolerate a heavy deer population and survive with no supplemental water beyond the first year.

Together, we designed a densely planted mix of 400 natives, native cultivars and pollinator-friendly plants. The tight planting scheme meant less mulch, while producing more color impact and structural support for the plants.

The best part of the project was the sense of community it created. Neighbors joined in helping with the installation and used the opportunity to learn more about the plants. One neighbor even volunteered to water the new plants as they became established during the first season.

Now starting its third year, the border shines each season and attracts a host of bees, birds and butterflies.  In spring, alliums, nepata, amsonia, baptisia and salvia begin the show. 

In summer, the border peaks with purple and white coneflowers, liatris, agastache, Joe Pye weed and globe thistle.  In fall, coneflower seedheads, purple asters, little bluestem, prairie dropseed and amsonia’s gold foliage bring a season finale. Neighbors often stop to offer compliments and call to ask about for plant IDs. Others have added similar plantings in their own landscape. A few even had fun spray painting the border’s allium seed heads for the July 4th holidays.

Plant list:

Try planting some of these natives, native cultivars and pollinator-friendly plants in your own backyard. The list includes prairie dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepis), little bluestem (Schizachyrium ‘Standing Ovation’), coneflower (echinacea purpurea ‘White Swan’ and ‘Ruby Star’), false indigo (Baptisia ‘Indigo Spires’), Joe Pye weed (‘Baby Joe’ Eupatorium), salvia (Salvia nemorosa ‘May Night’), gayfeather (Liatris spicata), globe thistle (Echinops ritro), catmint (Nepata ‘Walker’s Low’), Carex pensylvanica, Amsonia hubrichtii, Agastache ‘Blue Fortune’), Aster ‘October Skies’ and Allium.

Hidden Creek is a 600-acre conservation residential community along the Little Darby River, a National Wild and Scenic River west of Columbus, Ohio.

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