A straw bale raised bed is one way to add dimension to your garden, but it begins to lose it’s original form after a season. The straw turns a dirty grey, while sections of the sides randomly abandon the mother bale. The soil in the middle sinks, no matter if it was tamped down, and rocks begin to appear on the surface (if it was filled with soil from the chicken pen…). Not wanting to move the mass of the oldest straw bale garden at the entrance to the driveway, I chose to attempt a flower garden that would have blooms in succession for the whole growing season. This is the second year of that effort, helped along by annual self-sowers, bulbs, and a few perennials.
I barely managed to have a few bulbs put in it the mid winter before. Since southwest Idaho is barren, in general, from winter to early spring, it was not an obvious eye-sore with only those little splashes of color. The bulbs were just an assortment of left-overs from other plantings, so it was lacking volume, but it was better than nothing.
The next display was much nicer. The sweet peas formed a disguising cloud of pinks and purples.
After a brief interlude with a newly planted oriental poppy, the Thai silk poppies leapt onto the scene. With the four-o-clocks also beginning to sprout, the hens and chicks hanging on the front edge, a few sweet peas lingering, and the mint taking hold, the straw bale took on an air of careless luxury.
Right now, the four-o-clocks are vigorous and full of blossoms. (also see photo at top) The long term plan is for the mint to have this nice, isolated spot to cover the old straw bale hump. I’m still hoping the other plants will pop up enough to add some variety throughout the year.