Garden Photo of the Day

Part 2: Garden Makeover in BC

By Kim Charles

Back with Part 2 of Cherry and Sylvia's garden makeover–gotta love a couple of green thumbs!

"The remainder of our photos showcase the small garden bed by the front door that Sylvia discovered was infested by goutweed a couple of years ago. She removed all the perennials and treated the area with the solarization method to eradicate the goutweed.  We planted the new bed in June this year and the photos that you see were taken in September, about a full season later. The Meelianthus major may not be hardy in our area but she was willing to take the risk since it is a magnificent specimen.  I opted to add edibles since Sylvia is a wonderful cook as well. We picked edibles that she liked cooking with.  She plans to keep the Smokebush trimmed down to a manageable size through the years.

All the gardens and containers are do-it-yourself projects that can be managed through the years if you do some thoughtful planning and budgeting. I hope all you GPODers will take the plunge and try it yourselves sometime. Growing a garden is a most rewarding experience."

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  1. user-3565112 01/18/2017

    Good morning Cherry & Sylvia, I like this plant selection & layout a lot. Could you tell me if this area is shade or sun & also the zone you are in ? I am in zone 7 & the area in mind is S.W.. facing & protected from prevailing winds.
    Thank you & good luck to both of you, Joe

    1. perenniallycrazy 01/18/2017

      Thanks Joe. The garden is a Southeast exposure in hardiness zone 7. The house surrounds the west and north side of the bed.

      1. user-3565112 01/18/2017

        Thank you,that perfectly matches the site I have. For years it's been a no man's land because nothing seemed to work.

  2. user-7007498 01/18/2017

    Wow, Cherry and Sylvia, the front bed is such a delight to look at. The textures and shapes really complement each other. The Cotinus was such a wonderful idea as it echoes the sedum below and really makes the bed pop. I would have never thought to use it so close to the house, but as long as the pruning commitment is there, it is a terrific addition. Great job.

  3. user-7007498 01/18/2017

    PHILADELPHIA FLOWER SHOW reminder: Rhonda and I are going to meet, and spend the day there on Tuesday, March, March 14th. Anyone interested, please mark your calendar. We could have a GPOD get together at the show.?

    1. User avater
      Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 01/18/2017

      Thanks for the reminder, Kevin. I'm so close......Plus there is the Philadelphia museum of art and the Barnes Foundation.....Can you see I'm trying to talk myself into it? (Or maybe I'm practicing talking my wife into it!)

      1. user-7007498 01/18/2017

        Try to turn your thinking into action, Tim. Rhonda and I would love to have you join us.

  4. user-4691082 01/18/2017

    The meelianthus is stunning. I also love 'Kent Beauty' oregano. I haven't had any luck with it, but yours looks great! Where does the sidewalk lead to? All beautiful- can't wait for spring!

    1. perenniallycrazy 01/18/2017

      That sidewalk is her front walkway. Sylvia's garden is an ideal haven for Kent Beauty. It must be the sun and heat exposure plus dry soil.

    2. User avater
      Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 01/18/2017

      I have Origanum libanoticum, which is really hard to tell apart from Kent Beauty. Although mine gets full sun, the spot is cool because it is on my north-facing front hill. It gets excellent drainage because it is planted among stones, and in fact, it is starting to really run and take over. Maybe that species would grow better for you than 'Kent Beauty'?

  5. User avater
    meander_michaele 01/18/2017

    I can't believe the filling out that took place after just a couple of months. It's pretty amazing. Man, that goutweed must have really loved it there and been super bummed to have been evicted! That is quite a fiery display the smokebush is putting on in the third picture down. I would love to look out my window and see all that brilliant color. Is the more orangy red tone due to some fortuitous backlighting by the sun or is it a particular named variety?

    1. perenniallycrazy 01/18/2017

      The plant label was Cotinus coggygria but I will double check with Sylvia. That gout weed infestation took a long time to eradicate. We'll see what happens to that garden bed this spring.

      1. User avater
        meander_michaele 01/18/2017

        Hey, Cherry, I was so taken with the coloration on this particular smokebush that I did some googling image searches. There seems to be a variety called 'Grace' that stands out for it's more reddish orange tones although the copy accompanying the pictures indicates it's the fall leaf color. What matters, though, is that Sylvia's one is beautiful!
        I have seen goutweed described as the "cockroach" of plants. I succumbed to the charms of the variegated kind many years ago and worked hard to eradicate it once it revealed its true aggressive nature. It was at a place we have since moved from so I don't know if my efforts were totally successful. Ignorance is bliss!

        1. User avater
          Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 01/18/2017

          Goutweed *is* the cockroach of plants!! I inherited some in a bed in front, but I did not undertake eradicating it right away. Fortunately the soil was friable enough, and the area contained enough, that I just worked my fingers into the soil and pulled up as much as I could every time I saw a sprout. It took several years, but it worked!

    2. perenniallycrazy 01/19/2017

      Sylvia's identified the smokebush as Cotinus coggygria 'Black Velvet.

  6. User avater
    HelloFromMD 01/18/2017

    Your new planting is so colorful and all from foliage. The Meelianthus looks so beautiful. I have seen it look washed out in container plantings. Yours is so outstanding. Good luck with pruning the Cotinus. I had one and it always sent up long skyward shoots after pruning. But I am no expert.

  7. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 01/18/2017

    OK: First off, it is "Melianthus'. Meelianthus is the posting name of our fellow GPODer, Linda. :) She has corrupted us all. I spelled it that way just the other day!
    Such a great bed and great combo of plants. I've failed with the Acaena several times. It must be time to try again.
    What is the yellow-leaved shrub? Is it the new-ish Sambucus 'Lemony-Lace'. Fell in love with that shrub and it simply gave up its will to live in my garden.

    1. perenniallycrazy 01/18/2017

      Thanks for the spellcheck. My bad indeed... Sorry..

      Yes, the yellow shrub is Sambucus Lemony lace. The Acaena took to her garden so easily. It must be the full sun in that bed.

      1. User avater
        Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 01/18/2017

        No Sorry necessary. It is quite amusing!

      2. Meelianthus 01/18/2017

        Hi Cherry, I think you will find that the Melianthus is actually quite hardy. We have been in the 20s the last three weeks and mine has all died back but it will send up all new shoots in the Spring - I do mulch it very heavily and it does just fine every winter. I have only had flowers on it once however in the past 5 years.

    2. Meelianthus 01/18/2017

      Well ha ha, if I made YOU spell something wrong Tim - it must be a first ! Just kidding of course, but I am still laughing.

      1. User avater
        Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 01/18/2017

        I find it quite amusing! It's funny how things get in your head, sort of like cultural memes. :)

  8. NCYarden 01/18/2017

    Stunning! All that lusciousness in such a compact space. Superb combinations. I sure wish I could grow the "Meelianthus" Tim!
    What cultivar is the Japanese maple in the background of pic 3? On fire!

    1. Meelianthus 01/18/2017

      Hey! Come on guys, I didn't mean to start a spelling mishap. My spelling started as a joke so that my husband could pronounce it correctly - but hey, good for a few laughs.

      1. NCYarden 01/18/2017

        Excellent comic relief. As serious gardeners, we can't be too serious all the time.

    2. perenniallycrazy 01/18/2017

      We can now call Tim "The botanical spelling police."

    3. perenniallycrazy 01/19/2017

      No idea what cultivar the JM is. It's right by the neighbor's house. It is quite nice backlit with the Cotinus though. (Bonus!)

  9. sheila_schultz 01/18/2017

    You and Sylvia have designed a delightful color bomb outside her front door... very welcoming, Cherry! It's pretty amazing that the plants had only been in the ground 3 months for that shot. Do you have a magic potion, or is it the normal Vancouver moisture? I especially like the color contrast between the Smokebush and the orange maple. Sylvia must smile every time she walks out her front door!

    1. perenniallycrazy 01/19/2017

      Thanks Sheila. Like I told Kielian, the fill in rate has worried me. Too fast too soon IMHO. Usually Sylvia and I impatiently wait for fill in (She usually complains about seeing weeds in the spaces so she likes groundcovers a lot. You've probably noticed more of them in the beds.) I think one of the secrets Diane Brown has taught me is the compost mulch to finish the bed. It's like a steroid boost. I love that dark brown color too.

      1. sheila_schultz 01/19/2017

        Always remember... when one plant doesn't work, there are more to try. Yeah, I get it, when working with a friend we always want to make everything perfect first time around... you have done that. Plants live or not, but your design is perfection. Nothing is a given in nature.

        1. perenniallycrazy 01/19/2017


  10. annek 01/18/2017

    Cherry and Sylvia, you have done an amazing job creating some lovely garden beds. I can't believe this bed is only one season old. It filled in nicely over the summer and as your trademark Japanese forest grass grows and expands, it will be a delight. (I love the bright golden color it provides).

    I enjoyed your photos yesterday and freely admit that I have pot envy. You are a master at pot design, Cherry

    1. perenniallycrazy 01/19/2017

      Thanks Kielian. Actually, the fill in rate has worried me. Too fast too soon IMHO. We've had an snowmageddon winter though in these parts so I am expecting the melianthus to meet its maker. I will remind Sylvia to give that smokebush a good pruning too. Fingers crossed....we'll see what happens summer this year.

  11. schatzi 01/18/2017

    I love it when a plan comes together! 2 talented ladies and a small patch of ground plus carefully selected plants = garden heaven! Gorgeous Japanese maple.

    1. perenniallycrazy 01/19/2017

      Thanks Shirley. Hope to see you at the NWFGS.

  12. greengenes 01/18/2017

    Beautiful, beautiful BEAUTIFUL Cherry! You have a great eye for contrast both in color and foilage! You can come here and help me too! Wonderful to see your work again!

    1. perenniallycrazy 01/19/2017

      Thanks Jeanne. You know that your garden is on my wishlist to visit.Someday soon... pretty sure it'll happen.

  13. Meelianthus 01/18/2017

    Exquisite plant combinations Cherry. I love them all.

  14. user-348313 01/19/2017

    Beautiful design and photos gives us hope waiting for spring.
    I do not wish to be a party pooper, but the soil or mulch level in contact with the wall siding of the house will spell trouble with time. If my memory serves me well, the building code is to have soil level 8 inches below the siding if it's wood and 6 inches below if it's masonry. This is a common mistake that should be addressed swiftly.

    1. perenniallycrazy 01/19/2017

      Thanks for your input Carole. Another gardening friend (Phil) coached me on that too at the get go so Sylvia did fix it right after install. This is why I love you GPODers!

  15. perenniallycrazy 01/19/2017

    Thanks everyone for your kind comments and your input and caveats. I'm learning lots with each garden though I still consider myself an amateur. Gardening is fun and it is still a hobby for me.

    For those who were asking, please find below the plant list for this garden bed. (General information on the garden bed: full sun, southeast exposure, hardiness zone 7, foliage and color preferred over flowers by my girlfriend, low maintenance desired and edibles were welcomed), drainage is generally good except for a small section at the left most border where sometimes the water pools (a drain was placed by Sylvia's hubby and will be observed)

    Cotinus coggygria 'Black Velvet
    Cistus Mickie (Rockrose)
    Ocimum basicilum var. thysiflora (Thai basil)
    Raoulia australis (Silver Spoon)
    Sedum makinoi ‘Ogon’
    Sedum Sunsparkler Firecracker
    Melianthus major
    Sambcus racemosa Lemony lace
    Origanum rotundifolium ‘Kent Beauty’ (Ornamental oregano)
    Rosemarinus officinalis (Rosemary)
    Salvia officinalis (Sage)
    Acaena inermis ‘Purpurea’ (Purple sheep’s burr)
    Heuchera ‘Sashay’
    Heuchera ‘Sugar Frosting’
    Unidentified Ornamental Grass

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