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Regional Picks: Great Plants for the Front Yard – Northeast

Fine Gardening - Issue 139

‘Bloodgood’ Japanese maple

Name: Acer palmatum ‘Bloodgood’

USDA Hardiness Zones: 5 to 8

Size: Up to 15 feet tall and wide

Conditions: Full sun to partial shade; rich, acidic, well-drained soil

The texture and color that this accent tree adds to a front yard is striking. ‘Bloodgood’ Japanese maple’s delicate, serrated purple leaves persist until November, and its dense branching habit provides an attractive silhouette in winter. Plant it on a bank or in a planting bed that is raised to make it a focal point. Be sure to keep mulch away from the trunk because its bark is sensitive.

‘Pink Diamond’ hydrangea (tree form)

Name: Hydrangea paniculata ‘Pink Diamond’

Zones: 4 to 8

Size: 5 to 8 feet tall (depending on the graft) and up to 6 feet wide

Conditions: Full sun to partial shade; rich, acidic, well-drained soil

This hydrangea comes in two forms: a large shrub or a small tree. The tree form is a grafted lollipop topiary and stays more contained than the shrub form. Place it forward of other plantings in the front yard to show off its shape, color, and long-lasting flowers. It will need occasional pruning to keep the canopy rounded. ‘Pink Diamond’ flowers on new wood, so prune it back hard in late winter or early spring.

‘Vardar Valley’ boxwood

Name: Buxus sempervirens ‘Vardar Valley’

Zones: 6 to 8

Size: 5 feet tall and wide

Conditions: Full sun to partial shade; rich, acidic, well-drained soil

This plant is a hardy, compact, reliable grower that stays a beautiful deep green all year. ‘Vardar Valley’ boxwood is a good choice for planting under windows or as a filler among a variety of plants. Its sun and shade tolerance allows it to be planted in many situations. I use this boxwood in practically every garden I create for its evergreen presence and because deer tend to leave it alone. I even use the foliage year-round in flower arrangements.

Doublefile viburnum

Name: Viburnum plicatum f. tomentosum

Zones: 4 to 8

Size: 8 to 10 feet high and 9 to 12 feet wide

Conditions: Full sun to partial shade; rich, acidic, well-drained soil

This is, hands down, my favorite flowering shrub. In May, ivory blooms line up in a “double file” along the horizontal branches, making it look like an antique wedding dress. In fall, the foliage changes to a wine-bronze color. Give doublefile viburnum space to stand by itself and it will reward you handsomely. Plant small spring bulbs under the low, leafless branches to be sure that it shines through all four seasons.

 

Judith Ireland is a landscape architect in North Kingstown, Rhode Island.

Photos: Michelle Gervais; courtesy of Sylvia Hampton; Gilles Delacroix, Garden World Images

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