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Sunday, October 14, 2007

Suggest A Plant: Curb Appeal

I had such great luck back in the summer when I asked people to suggest their favorite plant that I thought I'd try it again with front gardens I'm trying to design.

In case you need a reminder, here's where my new front gardens will be. I'm not finished removing the sod but you can see the outline of where the edge of the bed will be. These part shade beds are about 6 feet from the 5-6 feet tall shrubs. Disclaimer: I am aware the shrubs look like freshly groomed poodles. I hate them, too. But they are staying at least until next year, and I vow to never let the landscape guy do that again.

So, here's what I need oh wise gardeners with your beautiful gardens and your exquisite garden designs. Give me your 3 favorite plants that work together height wise and try to work them into the design. I'll either grow them from seed or grab them on clearance over the next couple of weeks.

Suggest a...
Tall plant - for the back of the bed near the poodle shrubs
Medium plant - to place in front of the tall plant you just suggested
Short plant - to place in front of the medium one you suggested

Thank you in advance for your suggestions! I appreciate you!


  1. Do you want all-year-round interest, Gina, or a short blaze of glory?!
    For a mid-summer display, I'd love to see tall Eremurus or Delphiniums at the back (there's an outrageous cultivar called 'Faust' that's stunning), Acanthus in the middle and perhaps some giant daisies in the front. All are perennial, too, which makes life easier. If you went for the foxtail lily rather than the Delphs, the whole display would also not be too attractive to slugs!

  2. My choice if it were me would be:

    Tall plant, butterfly bush. Medium, Obedience plant. Yes, I know it's invasive, but its really pretty, just a little bit uneven and messy looking to give it that true garden flavor, and I mercilessly pull up what I don't want when it spreads.I wouldn't put it directly in front of the butterfly bush though, I would put it slightly to the side and in front. And for short, Brave World daylily. It's a medium height daylily and has fantastic deep red blooms with dark gold centers. I like things that have foliage that spills over into the yard in the front.

    Soilman is right about Delphiniums, they are spectacular.

  3. Did you say that you had an East exposure ? If so and nothing is blocking the sunlight you probably have enough light to grow sun loving perennials as well.

    Anyhoo, if I had to pick three perennials for back of the border they would be : Rudbeckia ( Blackeyed Susan ) , Speedwell
    ( Veronica ) and Phlox Paniculata. Not only would these give you a long bloom period, the color combo of yellow, blue and pink or purple is awesome.

    Middle section : Threadleaf Coreopsis,( yellow) Lythrum virgatum ( Loosestrife, non-invasive kind ; purple ) and balloon flowers. All have long season of blooms.

    Front row : Variegated Brunnera ( forget-me-nots ), Purple leafed Coral bells, and Lamb's ear. These provide long seasons of interest in leaf color and textures.

    I think you'll find that once your perennials bed comes into bloom it will soften the look of the poodle shrubs.

    Hope this helps.

  4. soilman - i don't really feel strongly about year round interest versus blaze of glory. thanks for the suggestions and thanks for stopping by!

    wrenna - i'll check those out. thanks so much for taking the time to make suggestions.

    carolyn - my house faces west but there are so many huge trees on my street that it doesnt seem to get much sun. it probably does get a few hours total of good sun exposure. my rudbeckia and phlox paniculata didnt get that tall - my zinnia towered over them - is that just because it was their first year? thanks for the suggestions!

  5. Don't forget about ornamental grasses. They can go among and in back of the plants and are graceful and have movement.There are many different sizes and kinds. I'm not sure I'd try perennials from seed just yet. You might be disappointed your first year or two. I recommend buying a medium sized plant in the spring - it will look great in a few months and won't cost a ton. And in a year or so, you can divide it. Delphiniums don't bloom too long and can have pest problems and I don't think the Acanthus is hardy in your zone.

  6. Hi Gina,
    I'm sort of at a loss as to what to suggest to you since you haven't said exactly what kind of look you're going for. What 'style' of garden suits your fancy?

    I'm definitely a cottage garden flowers spilling everywhere all year! So, (with cottagey in mind) I'd suggest maybe some old favorites like hollyhock, cosmos and delphiniums for the back, variegated grasses, Kiss-me-over-the-garden-gate (Polygonum orientale) or maybe some pretty herbs like borage for mid-interest, basics like zinnia, calendula (don't forget asters for some fall color), and for spillage at the edge - must have spillage :) - I adore variegated lamium, nasturtiums and something Kim introduced me to this year: blue shrimp plant. It grows a bit tall, but eventually sort of 'flops' from its own weight and 'spills' beautifully, especially placed at a corner of a bed. The foliage is rather intrigueing!

    Well, now, all that can be completely ignored if you want nothing to do with cottagey! Figure out what 'look' you'd like, then start deciding. I'm sure you'll get tons of advice.

    Hmmm...if you'd really like to start some perennials from seed, why not give Winter Sowing a go? No real equiptment or inside space needed and so much fun while the snow flies.

  7. Back to the drawing board since you have a shady Western exposure. This calls for hardy plants. Another question : Is it a moist shade or a dry shade ? I realize I'm being very anal but it's important in the selection of plant material.

    In shady gardens, leaf color and texture become a more important aspect over constant color, because the shade plants won't provide that.

    SO, if you want to have an all perennial flower bed , here are some tall perennials for western shade : Ligularia ( bold leaves, yellow flowers ), Aruncus dioicus ( goats beard ) white fringe flowers, Astilibe ( pink, white or red ) .

    Middle row : Northern Sea Oats ( ornamental grass ) , Variegated Brunnera macrophylia ( Siberian Bugloss ) Epimedium ( Barrenwort ) and Bergenia Cordifolia ( a bold leafed evergreen perennial with pink Spring blooms ).

    Front row : Creeping phlox, Ajuga Reptans ( Giant size ), Sweet Woodruff ( white ) .

    If you added Coleus as your annuals in early Summer ( they tolerate sun or shade and you can bring them indoors as houseplants in the Fall ) you'd have a flower bed with interest from Summer to Fall.

  8. Back row - White-flowered Anemone 'Andrea Atkinson.' This plant has attractive foliage & has been blooming nonstop in my garden since August.
    Middle - Lobelia 'Monet Moment.' Another long bloomer, this has pink flowers. Phlox maculata 'Natasha' & Phlox paniculata 'Laura' bloom well in part shade.
    Mid-front - Geranium 'Rozanne.' A blooming machine, even in part shade.
    Front -Mix in some 'Dickson's Gold' campanula & a chartruese Heuchera or Heucherella & a dark leaved Heuchera or Heucherella.

  9. Thank you all for your great suggestions. I'm currently in the process of trying to organize them all and research each to determine which are best for my area and sun exposure. I'll keep you posted!