I’d made the daily trek out to get the mail for three years until it finally hit me: My mailbox area wasn’t pretty.
I do a lot of neighborhood drive-throughs. I’d been admiring lovely, happy mailboxes in a slew of ‘hoods that caught my eye, made me smile, and changed with the seasons. Couldn’t I put together something similar? Why, yes! Yes I could! So I did.
The goal in each of my flower beds is to create year-round interest. I mean, it should be fun to wander the yard all 365 days, am I right? The tricky part is knowing what will survive in vastly different sun/shade beds. And my mailbox gets the brutal, blistering, southern summer, late-morning-to-afternoon rays that can crisp a leaf in hours. I’d need to do some floral homework.
I started by digging up the grass—back-breaking work. What I discovered was very poor soil and chunks of cement. I had a brief moment of discouragement, then said out loud, “Challenge accepted!” Spring-blooming bulbs were probably out. I needed something shallow-rooted that could thrive in full sun.
Enter the Black-eyed Susan. Only gnawing critters can kill these plants, so I got some starts from a generous gardener and in they went. Summer beauty: check! Then I considered the yellow-and-white lantana. This is a hardy, woody bloomer and—bonus!—sometimes they’ll volunteer back for you. Perennial: check! Since it was late-summer, I needed to consider something fall-blooming. Anything in a nursery can would have roots too deep for this spot, so I planted a mum in a pot to give the area some height, and added some pumpkins around it in October. Seasonal interest: check!
The next Spring, I added Sundrops—another yellow-blooming perennial. Much to my surprise, a pumpkin vine grew from a seed that must’ve made its way into the Fall soil. This summer, I threw in some yellow Four O’Clock and red zinnia seeds to join the volunteer lantana and Susans.
It’s an ever-changing bed of annuals and perennials that never cease to amaze me. It’s rather fun to see what works and what doesn’t, what thrives in poor soil and what says, “no thank you.” And every time I run out to get the mail now, it takes a wee bit longer as I pause, reach down, touch a bloom, pinch off a leaf, and admire nature’s handiwork. Mission accomplished.
A Michigan farm girl transplanted to the South offering hospitality hacks.