Green Side Up

Garden talk with Gazette community blogger Janice Peterson.

Rock County residents love their mailbox gardens

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Janice Peterson
Monday, August 12, 2013

Rock County residents love their mailbox gardens! I take early morning walks through my neighborhood and get to really look at and ponder my neighbor's mailboxes. Well, not the actual mailbox (although some can be quite clever!) but the planting beds they're in. At a minimum it's a good idea to cut away a ring of turf from around the post for easy mowing.  But why stop there? A beautiful mailbox garden can give your home an inviting look and connect to the rest of the landscape. 

Some mailbox gardens are intensely landscaped and may include containers and hanging baskets.  These are beautiful additions but they also will need to be watered daily.  Remember, most mailboxes are in full sun near hot pavement. Even the plants grown in the soil need a certain amount of attention.  Some annual flowers like petunias require plenty of moisture or they'll look bad pretty quickly.  There's nothing sadder than a clump of dead petunias hanging over a curb! I find I don't want to drag a hose or watering can out to my mailbox everyday so over the years I've learned to use drought tolerant annuals and perennials by my mailbox.

Attached to this article is a picture taken last year of my mailbox garden.  In it are five clumps of perennial feather reed grass ('Avalanche') that were newly planted so still quite small, nasturtiums planted directly as seeds and an annual vine, purple hyacinth bean, which also was planted as seed.  Not too complicated, easy to care for and very attractive!  There are many easy care plants that would be great curbside choices including moss rose, sedum (there is even a variety called 'Postman's Pride' which would be very appropriate!), lavender, Russian sage, daylily, and clematis, just to name a few.  Avoid perennials that can't take a lot of sun and heat exposure like light colored hostas or coralbells.

I do have a couple of etiquette rules about mailbox gardens.  First, keep the mailbox clear of vines so the mail can be delivered (even if it is just bills), and don't use plants that are thorny or attract bees—your mail carrier will thank you for that!

Janice Peterson has worked as a grounds horticulturist at Rotary Botanical Gardens in Janesville since 2002. She is a master gardener with the Rock Prairie Master Gardener Association. Though her education is in plant science, she considers her love of gardening and strong back to be her true qualifications. Janice is a community blogger and is not a part of The Gazette staff. Her opinion is not necessarily that of The Gazette staff or management.

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