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comments (4) September 5th, 2012 in gallery
blueyedsusan blueyedsusan, member
3 users recommend

HELP! I feel my plantings do nothing for the beauty of my house. I live in a 6B zone. The right side has guacamole hosta, flaming silver japonica and lirope - gets sun most the day. The left side is goldmound spirea and coralbells...gets more shade and part sun. Between them is the front hse stairs. Only have about 5' in width to deal with.  I know both sides dont seem to blend well and looking to incorporate that with low maintenance dwarf plantings to "wow" the house and plantings...any suggestions??? PLease give me a nicer look. My house is beautiful but don't think the plantings are doing anything for me yet. Tho not matured and newly planted and have grown some since the photos, it needs umph. Please email me at thermalqueen@yahoo with suggestions. if you need more photos i can provide them. Thank you all in advance!

posted in: The Gallery

Comments (4)

taparzyc writes: I think a nice tall grass would look great on the corner, and add winter interest... I'm also a fan of the Variegated Red Twig Dogwood because its bark is beautiful in the winter...
Posted: 10:27 pm on June 8th
BloominLooney writes: Hi,

Actually I think you are off to a great start. The variety of foliage textures and colors is wonderful and already gives punch. In a few years the Pieris and Spirea will be large enough to begin to visually connect the beds with the house, and you will already feel much more positive. But in the meantime there are a few things I think you could do to love it even sooner: winter structure, scale/density and color.

1.) I agree with the above commenter that you will likely be happier if you plant more things which will keep their form through winter. I would encourage you to not only do foundation planting directly along the wall, but living mulch in the form of evergreen ground covers, which are an opportunity to bring in more interest at the base of your main plants and cover the gaps where perennials will disappear in winter without crowding. You can find several lists of zone 6 evergreen shrubs if you do an internet search to get you inspired or look around in your area to see what you like and which grows well. These don't need to be gorgeous divas, they can just be the background choir for the more interesting dramas in front. Just mind the size so as to not encroach on your windows in a few years.

Some ideas from one of those lists:

>> 3' Buxus 'Green Mound' (Boxwood) spans sun and shade, so could be a unifying backdrop for your two sides.

>> 2' Chamaecyparis pisifera 'Golden Mop' -- this little Cypress will keep your bright foliage theme going and is again sun to part shade

>> 1.5' Euonymus fortunei 'Coloratus' can be invasive, evidently, so be advised, but it would bring nice plummy winter coloration. There are many taller (3') Euonymus which have golden variegation throughout the year.

Copy and paste the following link to see the whole list I'm reading from, but it is just a random beginning. There are many lists and many, many plants to choose from.

2.) Different cultures have devised different relationships between the house and garden over time, but I really like it when the garden and the house are partners. That means that neither swamps the other. The plants around the house ground it without obscuring it. Right now your house is swamping your garden. No wonder; it is young. Obviously the shrubs will do much to connect the house and garden as they mature, but the other plants are out of scale and there are simply too few plants.

The Heuchera and Liriope especially will never hold their own as you have them. If it were my garden, I would pull the Heuchera forward bringing them closer together to form a patch of purple at the front of the border. Once they are grouped, they will have the visual weight to balance the shrubs. This leaves you open areas at the back to add more shrubs which will work together to further balance the house.

Plants are far more attractive than mulch so, without crowding, aim to cover the whole area starting at the back of the bed with short shrubs of varying heights, textures and colors and working toward lower-growing plants in the front. (Looking for small, upright/narrow shrubs will enable you to pack more into a narrow border. Think of the red or yellow Pillar Barberries as opposed to the round or mounded forms.) You can also sneak plants in such as bulbs for seasonal interest. I have seen purple Allium look so great growing through chartreuse-colored foliage. If you get a late blooming variety of Allium or Lily, the Spirea will be finished blooming and ready for something to shake things up again. (One warning about bulbs, if you have a low tolerance for mess, skip them, since you have to have their leaves in the way part of the year as they soak up energy and slowly die.)

3.) Color is the final item I'd love to see you push farther. The chartreuse and purple plus the seasonal red of the Pieris thus far is fun, but I don't yet have a sense of the colors playing off each other the way they could. Part of this is the scale and placement issues mentioned above. Once the Heuchera are grouped in front of the Spirea (off center, please), you will immediately have a very different feeling between them. The other bit missing is the idea of repetition and rhythm. As far as I can tell, you have only the purple Heuchera and probably you have the purple flowering form of Liriope. That is not enough purple to get your eye dancing through the garden. I would love to see more purple foliage and flowers spaced throughout the garden echoing and enhancing the purple you already have.

I'd also like to see the chartreuse played up more. Dicentra spectabilis ‘Gold Heart’ has the same flower/leaf color combo as the Spirea. Citronelle Coral Bells would be a cheeky yellow echo of the purple Heuchera you already have. Set up a tableau where it plays off in front of a larger purple-foliage plant.

For an elegant look, give the purple and chartreuse depth and pop with some very deep green plants. It would work for the garden the way the bright/dark green of the Guacamole coloring works on the Hosta leaves.

And keep those corally-new leaves of the Pieris in mind. If you don't want that color a permanent feature of the garden, at least consider a plant which flowers in that color at the same time the new leaves are emerging. Helianthemum nummularium 'Rose Glory' comes to mind. It's a bit too pink for the Pieris, but it's so pretty. It blooms for a month plus in late Spring and makes a lush, deep-green, evergreen, mat-like groundcover. Perhaps Helianthemum 'Stop Light' would be a better color match, or it might be too red. Hard to know until you see them side-by-side. This would make a nice front of the border edging plant.

I bet this look is too wild for your taste, but I love how Laura Livengood Schaub transformed this garden with a riot of colored-foliage plants and tuttifrutti pink flowers.

Here is a page of Chartreuse foliage plants from Monrovia. Inspiring!:

And purple foliage:

Actually one more thing.

4.) You were concerned about the two sides of the bed not harmonizing. Although I think if you do the color repetition thing I talked about, it will look like it all goes together already anyway, but you could also look for dwarf versions of the existing shrubs or look-a-likes as you add new plants. For example, Pieris is such a forgiving, tough plant. It will grow in sun or shade. You could squish in another Pieris japonica 'Flaming silver' on the other side once you have moved the heuchera and/or you could use something like Pieris 'Little Heath Variegata' which maxes out at 2 feet tall and wide but has the same reddish new growth and white variegation. A look-a-like would be Weigela florida ‘My Monet’ with white edged leaves, pink-flushed new growth and the added benefit of pink tubular flowers in May. Also, I'm just now realizing that your Spirea 'Goldmound' is on your shadier side (if I understand correctly), but it is a "full sun" plant. It looks plenty happy, so no worries, but it does free you to put it on your other side too.

There are my two cents.

Best of luck.

B.L. Posted: 6:47 pm on November 12th
neimangirl writes: Maybe add two red Japanese maples one side on the right and the left side a bit away from the window. Some white/pink/red iceberg roses would be nice. Some daylilies,gardenias, arabian jasmines place close to the house/porch would provide some nice scent. A small nice or cute statue or two/three small decorative rocks would add a punch to the look. Hope this help. Posted: 1:22 pm on September 10th
anniespeed writes: Hi Susan,
If you live in Zone 6b as I do, then your current combination will look very sparce in Winter
when the leaves are gone. You could make a big change inexpensively by adding
the evergreen Autumn Fern (Dryopteris erythrosora)
in the rear to give your part sun
exposure a more lush look. They grow about 3 ft tall when mature and I use them
extensively for their year round appeal. I’ve combined them with Lenten Rose (Helleborus
Orientalis) which blooms in late Winter and is also evergreen in our zone. Both these
plants are very low maintenance and only need a yearly trim of old stems. I clip
mine in late winter to make room for new spring growth.

Since your space is limited, choosing your plants carefully is important.. you don’t have
extra room for those that don’t really impress. I’d encourage you to keep your Guacamole
Hosta for it’s terrific scent that can be appreciated as you walk by!

Good luck, Susan, and Happy Digging! -Tracey Hudson,Master Gardener Posted: 6:38 pm on September 5th
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