looking for ideas for street-facing flowerbed
Hi folks. First I wanted to say I'm a big fan of this site. I've never been a regular, but there have been countless time a google search has led me here. In fact, I can't remember any other site that I regularly wound up on when I was searching for plant-related stuff. Thanks to everyone who participates and provides such a useful treasure trove of information.
Okay, on to my question. I have a little strip right on the curb that measure 14 feet long by 3 feet wide. The mailbox is in the center and the long side is adjacent to our driveway. Both sides taper off a bit on the ends. We pulled up all the sod up and put in a border of sunken blocks (level with the soil). We have a two-fold goal of having a nice street facing garden and avoiding mowing and weed-eating the tricky bit around the mailbox.
We want to put flowers and some groundcover in (sedum, ivy). The one thing that will for sure be going there are some irises that my wife brought from her mom's house before she sold it. They'll probably take up about 6 square feet of this area. The rest is up for grabs.
My concerns are that it's directly at the curb and we live in Minneapolis. We have long, hard winters and we're in zone 4a. We're on a residential street where they plow often, so most of the winter there's going to be a giant snow bank on top of this area. They don't really use any salt on our street, so we don't expect that to be an issue. But during the spring, the snow melt will keep this area the wettest for the longest of any area in our yard.
So I'm looking for suggestions and general tips on what to plant there. We're big fans of perennials, though we'll probably plant a few annuals at the tapered areas because one end is where people often drive off the edge of the driveway (*eyeroll*) and the other is where mower incidents are most likely to happen. I think those irises will be okay, since they've been at her mom's in South Dakota for 20 years and have done well when we transplanted them in our garden (had to stick them somewhere).
I'd like to avoid having everything bloom all at once and then just be a bunch of greenery the rest of the season. I'd also like to get some variation on height. I want to plant some flowy ivy that will spill over the curb. There's a yard a bit down the street where the guy has a TON of incredibly prodigious perennials right on the curb just like we want, so that makes me hopeful. Come to think of it, I should really just go talk to him... but sometimes I find I get into chats with him a lot easier than I get out.
Anyway, he has this ivy ground cover stuff like I'm talking about so we'll just copy that. We'll probably put some lilies in, but we'll want to keep the height down a bit to avoid overwhelming the mailbox. I'm also interested in a variety of different flower types. We have moles (and therefore, probably voles) but they left the irises in the garden untouched.
We were thinking of tulips, but I worry that the late snow pack, the abundant moisture and the possibly vole munching may be too much for them. Hmm, other random things we've considered is indian blanket (Gaillardia pulchella) and a peony.
The area has pretty rich soil from what I've seen. I had a soil report run a few years ago but I can't find it. I know it wasn't highly one way or the other, and the grass does fine in it. Once the snow melts, it's pretty well drained. Due to the city replacing the road and tearing up the yard, when they refilled it there's a few pockets that have higher-than-average amounts of small rocks. And every once in a while there's a small chunk of clay or two.
Okay, that's probably way too much. Wonder if anyone is still reading. :D Let me just close by saying we're pretty unsophisticated gardeners and tend towards the lazier options (as much as possible).
Thanks for reading!