Revisiting the Half Moon Garden.

I think its only fair to give a garden at least 2, possibly 3, years to mature and fill in before too harsh of a glance is aimed at it. The Half Moon garden has had about that much time, and what has worked has, in fact, worked beautifully well.


Case in point: Little Bluestem and ‘Arcado Pink’ Hyssop are made for one other. The color coordination is sublime and the contrast in form and shape make it sing. I wouldn’t dream of changing a thing with this pairing.

There are other areas & plants, however, that haven’t worked out quite as well as I had hoped. Next year will be the perfect time to address them.

I’d love to post more photos, but it is a very tricky space to photograph, so I drew y’all a diagram instead!


The Mountain Boxwood hedge should be doing beautifully, but in truth, they haven’t been as hardy as I was initially led to believe. Perhaps this area isn’t sheltered enough through winter, but either way I’ve lost plants every year and expect this Spring to be no different. If by some twist of fate, they all come through this winter I’ll have to reconsider my plan, but I suspect it is time to dig them all up and find a new solution.

plant habit, in forest
Image via Oregon State University

The other area of concern is the Lamb’s Ear. Its a plant I love in many places in my gardens, but this just isn’t’ one of them, even though I was hoping it would be. I’m afraid it’s looser, unkempt habit feels less charming here and more untidy. Out they come.

The pink lavender ‘Ellagance Pink’ (please ignore that I called it ‘Pink Ice’ in the diagram!) is also doing really well, so that will stay, but the question is how to keep the formality that the boxwood hedge was intended to bring and what to plant to set off the delicate pink lavender. I don’t especially want to move these lavender, so whatever I choose will have to work itself out between the  constraints of the lavender and the Little Bluestem/Hyssop band.

The initial appeal of the Mountain Boxwood (or Oregon Boxwood) was that it would keep its short stature (around 3 feet) and wouldn’t be much to prune into shape. The other bonus is that it was available through a university nursery as small plants in 5″ cubic containers at $2.50 each. That’s a lot of plants for not much money! Alas, it appears to be false economy.

I’m struggling with alternatives to this plant though. Any other available hedging material will prove to be much more upkeep and taller than I had hoped. Ninebark and Barberry could work, but as a general rule I don’t love these plants. Moonshadow Wintercreeper could be an option, though I cringe at the cost of buying 24 1 gallon containers at about $13 each. Oof.

Moonshadow Wintercreeper Image via Gertens

Certainly some dwarf or low-growing evergreens could cut the mustard, but the cost of a Mugo pine is generally around $27 at the low end $70 at the high end. Double oof!

Instead, I’m considering a Yew Hedge here, kept quite low. I have plenty of plants to take semi-ripe cuttings from and would be able to fully replace the feature while maintaining its ability to be pruned into shape. Their dark green foliage would be a beautiful foil to any plant in front of it and I would have the ability to adjust the height of the hedge as my tastes change. Yes, that is a long-term plan. No, I wouldn’t be able to plant those cuttings this year. Yes, they’d need to be either brought inside next winter or overwintered in the Nursery Bed. But, they’d be free, they would thrive, and they would achieve the initial intended look. Thankfully I’m the patient sort when it comes to the garden…

Hedges in a formal garden
Image via The Spruce

Replacing the band of Lamb’s Ears seems to be a much easier solution. I adore ‘Autumn Joy’ and ‘Thundercloud’ Sedum and it love my space- full sun and sandy soil- so they grow large, upright, sturdy, and flower beautifully. The flower colors will fit in with the scheme and add a pop through fall, framed by the Little Bluestem. My only concern is that these will need to be divided periodically, but I think its a small price to pay for what they bring to the table. The best part I saved for last- they root so, so easily from leaf and stem cuttings that I can create the whole batch for free. It’ll likely take until late Summer to get these cuttings to where they’ll need to be size-wise, but with a price tag like that, I’m willing to wait!

I’m quite chuffed at the idea that I can ‘fix’ this garden space for nothing more than time and effort with cuttings. It will be a long-term project, certainly, but with the greenhouse and an early jump on it (perhaps a try at softwood cuttings of the Yew) there’s no reason to not have success.

Stay tuned for the progress on the Half Moon and the Great Cuttings Project of 2019!


2 thoughts on “Revisiting the Half Moon Garden.”

  1. Looks like the Little Bluestem and Agastache are an inspired combination. Little Bluestem does not do great for me, tends to get too floppy. Maybe another possible replacement for the boxwood would be a dwarf Deutzia?


  2. Ooh, Deutzia! I’ve often thought of them but have a hard time finding them around here. I should try to hunt some down- great suggestion! Their flowers are so lovely— are you a zone 5 or 4? I see there are some varieties hardy to z4, but that may be why its been hard to find some up north here…


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