Maintaining order in the garden


Hi there. I live in Etobicoke, Sunnylea neighbourhood. We have sandy soil here. The area of the garden I am concerned about receives full sun more than 8 hours a day. In the area I have planted Hens and chicks, Yucca plant with variegated leaves, phlox ground cover and creeping Jenny. As I list them out like this I realize how complicated I have made this small area of my garden. My question is: How do I maintain order in this part of the garden? First, the Hen’s and Chicks seem to have spread quite a bit. They are constantly purple in colour and never look green and healthy. Should I root some out? Is the the right spot for them? The Yucca have traveled a great deal. We started with three plants in the centre of the space, a real focal point behind some large rocks. But now they have moved to in between the rocks and are not at all in their original location. Should I try to dig them up and put them back where they were originally? What should I have done to stop them moving all over the place? I notice in other gardens the Phlox is simply kept in a particular clump shape so I will do the same. The creeping Jenny has all died. I guess this is not the type of conditions it prefers. Should I dig out the creeping Jenny and plant somewhere else? What conditions would it prefer? Thank you in advance for answering these questions.


Thank you for contacting Toronto Master Gardeners regarding your little perennial garden.


Your hens and chicks (Sempervivum group) are mat-forming succulents which will quickly spread to 2 feet (0.6 m) or more through self-propagation. They will thrive in your sandy soil and are normally light pink to reddish purple and make a delightful compliment to the Yucca and golden creeping Jenny in shape, size and colour. To move this reddish purple colour around, you may wish to move a small clump of hens and chicks to another area in your garden bed.


Your variegated Yucca (Yucca filamentosa) are well suited to your 8 hours of sunshine and are very drought tolerant but do benefit from about an inch of water (0.02 cm) a week. Their lower leaves will turn brown and it is your choice whether to leave them as a skirt around the plant. When the flower stalk has finished blooming it should be cut to the ground to tidy up your tall and handsome focal point. Yucca will expand to form clumps and they will likely look charming as they partly surround the rock. Rather than move them about, as the clump expands remove those that interfere with your garden plan.


Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia) is slow to emerge in the spring and it’s remaining leaves are a peculiar colour at present. This undemanding plant will begin to grow soon and ‘creep’ to knit the various plant groups together adding the cheerful golden yellow to the mix.


Your little garden has interesting potential. You have elements of various heights, colours, and forms and lovely rocks to add structure. You have done well with your choices.


We wish you much pleasure from this sunny spot.