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applestar
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Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 11:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

Creating a plant community with Japanese maples - Q's

So, I'm not sure if this is more suitable for native species sub-forum or Permaculture sub-forum, but I'm slowly creating native plant communities in my garden and have identified a few non-natives that I thought might be grouped together in a sub-community.

Since I have an island bed in the front of the house containing 2 large (about 6'H x 6'W and 5'Hx8'W) mound-form Japanese maples and a 3rd very young tree-form Japanese maple (which suffered from our recent drought), I thought I'd group the others around them. But before starting, I was hoping to find more info about natural plant communities that normally grow around Japanese maples and whether any of the following could be put together in a naturalistic grouping that would still work in front of the house.

• Japanese Kerria (Kerria japonica)
• Peony
• Nandina

I want to limit new acquisitions, but I think a taller element (like a small tree) is needed here that won't block the house (that seems to be a no-no for "curb appeal") I'd love a non-clumping bamboo (haven't researched this yet), if that would work. If there's anything else that could enhance the grouping, I'd appreciate the suggestions.

Additional considerations:
- There are a couple of 2'H Hydrangea macrophylla a few feet away in the house foundation planting along with a couple of Ilex x meserveae "Blue Princess" and a "Blue Prince"
- There is a late blooming weeping cherry on the other side of the driveway. I'm wondering if there is a way to tie that in somehow.
- The Japanese maple island is currently ground-covered with wild strawberries. I'm not really willing to pull them out because the kids love them. It's also being taken over from one end by variegated periwinkle, and from another end by Japanese honey suckle (I keep pulling them and they keep coming up - I would consider surrounding the Island bed with a low fence -- up to knee high -- and training the honey suckle on that, but I can't have a tall fence or trellis in this location)
- The Island is currently in a rounded triangle shape but it can be changed, especially since the Japanese maple branches are starting to outgrow the area.

Although I put this thread here, my house is nominally Colonial in architecture, so this grouping is not going to be Japanese Garden in the strict sense. I'd like to design the area to suggest that though I don't know how without the architecture/design crashing....

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