A round of photos of the Spokane LDS Temple annual beds is a good chance for me to evaluate what worked well this year and what can be improved next year. These first two photos show what we call the 'Spiral Beds' near the front entrance on the west of the temple. Below you see one of the spiral topiaries that inspire the name.
Last year we had lime 'Marguerite' sweet potato vine planted here that had to be cut back regularly when it tried to take over the sidewalk. The lime 'Wasabi' coleus was a good change, since it grew upright instead of spreading. I think a few sweet potato vines dripping over the west lip of the bed (the back side in this photo) would be nice for next year.
We've had frequent questions this year about 'that cool tall spiky plant.' I think it's fun to include a few unusual plants along with the tried-and-true favorites, and the 'King Tut' papyrus has certainly caught a lot of attention this season. Papyrus is native to the riverbanks of the Nile, so it likes lots of water, heat, and plenty of sun. It didn't grow to its potential height of 6' for us, but did reach 4'. It's a nice replacement for spiky dracena.
Here is the annual bed at the street corner where you turn into the parking lot. This area struggled for the first part of summer because it wasn't getting enough water and some voles were tunneling around the roots. We are limited here to deer and rabbit-resistant plants. I think a fun change for next year would be to use some sunset-colored 'Sunny Sheila' African daisies (Osteospermum) in the mix. Click on the name to see a photo. Wouldn't those orangey flowers make an interesting combo? This area definitely needs a little more of something to make it pop.
Here is a closer view of that area. The bed is edged with perennial silver Snow-in-Summer (Cerastum tomentosum). This shot also shows 'Magenta Ribbon' snapdragons, '3D Purple' African daisies, 'Evolution' and 'Evolution White' salvia, 'Imagination' verbena, and magenta lobelia. More of the mauve 'Senorita Rosalita' cleomes are planted at the rear of the bed.
On the sun-baked south side of the temple we used bold rainbow-hued flowers. Above is violet 'Evolution' salvia, a bit of dark blue 'Marine' lobelia, lime 'Margeurite' sweet potato vine, 'Dakota Gold' helenium and 'Tango Red' and 'Tango Purple' (really they're magenta) geraniums. We were going to include orange nasturtiums in this area, but they weren't available from our grower.
Here is the area we call the South Arc. The golden helenium outgrew everything else this year, as you can see! Also in this bed are violet 'Aladdin' petunias and 'Imagination' verbena, Royal blue 'Marine' lobelia, a few lime sweet potato vines (some of them died on the left of the bed), 'Confetti' lantana that I thought would be orange but instead is more pink, and red and magenta geraniums. Next year it would be nice to add some orange and cherry pink zinnias and maybe some spikey red salvia. Asparagus fern (Asparagus densiflorus 'Sprengeri') would add feathery texture and is deer resistant, so we could also use it in the south pots outside the fence.
Above are the East Rectangle and East urns. The annuals here grew well, but I'm not excited about how the colors came together. Next year I'd like to go with a deeper color scheme. We need to keep golden yellow helenium in the mix to tie this bed to the surrounding 'Stella d'Oro' daylilies, and the lime 'Margerite' sweet potato vine is fun to have growing over the edges. Maybe I'll replace the 'Bubblegum Vista' supertunias with magenta 'Sangria Charm' supertunias, plant more of the orangey-plum 'Sedona' coleus so they don't get hidden by the other plants, and add some purple trailing wandering Jew (Tradescantia'). I've only seen wandering Jew as an indoor plant, but I think it would make a good annual. It would definitely fall into the unusual category.
'Vista Bubblegum' supertunia really is an amazing grower, but it might just be too . . . pink. I love pink. Maybe not this much of it, though. So next year this area will be dark and dramatic instead.
Here is a final shot of the east rectangle bed. A few violet 'Marine' heliotrope add fragrance to the mix of 'Bandana Light Yellow' lantana, lavender verbena (sorry I can't remember which), 'Dakota Gold' helenium, and of course the overpowering 'Vista Bubblegum' supertunias. This month the temple grounds director (Marilyn) and I are flying to Salt Lake City to study the gardens at Temple Square. We'll have a tour from the head groundskeeper and get to ask lots of questions. It's exciting to think of how much we'll learn, and how much better we'll be able to care for the Spokane Temple grounds afterward. I'll take lots of photos and post them here soon.