Miles
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Posts: 5
Joined: Wed Oct 04, 2006 2:57 pm
Location: Cornwall - UK.

Non Gardener Needs Tips for Low Care Plants

Hi, I'm a complete non gardener and am after some advice.

I'm in my first house and am redoing the small front garden.

Its basically 2 small patches eitherside of some steps leading down to the front door, one side slopped with ordementle rocks, the other flat with a wall at the side and back. There were some big boring overgrown bushes there, but I've dug them up.

So, I need some new plants. I'm after a mix of scrubs that are colourful and will be colourful for a large proportion of the year, again, flowers that will be in bloom for as long as poss and maybe some small colourful bushes.

I don't mind a bit of trimming here or there, but don't want major maintenance.

Any suggestions of what to go for? Pictures, or links to sites where I can see them would be excellent!

Flowerpots
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Location: Melbourne, Australia

What sort of sunlight do you get each day ?? Full sun, part sun all shade ect...

Miles
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Posts: 5
Joined: Wed Oct 04, 2006 2:57 pm
Location: Cornwall - UK.

Full shade. In the UK.

Newt
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Joined: Wed May 26, 2004 2:44 am
Location: Maryland zone 7

Hi Miles,

For full shade there aren't many small shrubs that come to mind that are evergreen and colorful. You may need to rely on leaf colors for color. Green comes in many shades. :)

One of my favorites for that situation is Nandina. There are dwarf forms that grow to between 2' to 4' depending on variety and stay rounded. I love the lime green leaves that change colors in the fall and some in spring too. Not sure which ones would be available in the UK.
Nandina 'Nana Purpurea'

[url=https://www.hort.net/gallery/view/ber/nandowd/]Nandina[/url] [url=https://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/consumer/factsheets/shrubs/nandina_domes-woodsdwarf.html]'Woods Dwarf'[/url](I grow these in my garden)

Nandina 'Gulf Stream' -

Nandina 'Moon Bay'

[img]https://www.colesvillenursery.com/NANDINA%20MOON%20BAY.JPG[/img]

Nandina 'Fire Power' -

Nandina "Plum Passion'

Nandina 'Sienna Sunrise'

Hardiness zones in the UK are mostly 8 and 9 and you don't say where in the UK you are. It would be helpful to add that to your profile like I have.

Helleborus will grow in full shade, is evergreen and has a long season of bloom. Most of the flowers face down because it starts blooming in late winter when there is often snow. There are newer cultivars that have flowers that face up. Most are hardy to zone 7, so choose carefully if you are in zone 9. They usually start blooming in March and bloom until May or June in my zone 7 garden.

Liriope aka Lilyturf comes in green or variegated varieties. There's even one that is called 'Black'. They only need to be cut to the ground once in the spring before new growth begins. I grow these in shade.

I also grow dwarf mondo grass. It looks like grass and is lovely at the base of a rock wall or between stepping stones. It makes a nice green accent when used with other colorful leaved plants.

Cotoneaster is another woody plant that comes in all sizes - from groundcovers to very large shrubs with thorns. The groundcovers do have lovely berries.

Skimma japonica is evergreen with varying heights. You will need both male and female to get berries, but the berries add to the color. The groundcover height might be nice with the Nandina.

Camellia is another option. Most are slow growing shrubs, some are evergreen and there are varieties that bloom in spring and some that bloom in fall. You will want a dwarf variety that will stay small.

Hakonechloa is a lovely grass-like plant that will grow in shade.

There are many annual plants that only live one year and bloom in shade all spring, summer and early fall. They are frost tender and you would have to replant these every year. If you are interested I could give you some ideas. If you know your hardiness zone, that would be helpful too.

Newt

Miles
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Posts: 5
Joined: Wed Oct 04, 2006 2:57 pm
Location: Cornwall - UK.

Newt, that is a fantastically helpful reply. Thanks for all the effort that went into it!

I'm in Cornwall, which I would say is relatively warm and wet.

Newt
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Posts: 1868
Joined: Wed May 26, 2004 2:44 am
Location: Maryland zone 7

Miles, you are so very welcome! I would think Cornwall is zone 9 from the maps I found. I'll bet there are more perennial shade plants that will grow in your zone. A stroll through a good nursery with a pad and pen might be useful too. Look in the shade plants department and then you can research them at google for more info. Be sure you write down the botanical names so you can get more info on them as several plants have the same common name.

Newt

galcho
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Posts: 9
Joined: Sun Nov 26, 2006 3:24 pm
Location: zone 8, Pacific Northwest

Newt,
Wondering if you can give such fantastically helpfull reply to my question?

I am looking for small (up to 3'X3') evergreen schubs that are droughttolerant sun lovers hardy in zone 7-8.

Thanks

opabinia51
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Location: Victoria, BC

Oh you can bet that once she has time that Newt will answer your question for you.

:wink:

Newt
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Posts: 1868
Joined: Wed May 26, 2004 2:44 am
Location: Maryland zone 7

Hi Galcho,

One group of flowering broadleaf evergreen shrubs that comes to mind is Pieris japonica. There are many varieties with different heights, widths, colors of new growth and either pink or white flowers that resemble lily of the valley. It's sometimes called lily of the valley shrub or tree. There are several dwarf varieties that mature to different heights, all at or below 4'. Here's a sampling. Many were difficult to find pics or descriptive info on. One of the sites that I used for great descriptive info is, sadly, no longer in business. They were a fantastic nursery here on the east coast and I've ordered from them. Their web site is still up for reference info.

Pieris japonica 'Bisbee Dwarf', 'Bonsai', 'Pygmaea' (also listed as f. pygmaea) and 'Nocturne' are among the most common miniature forms, all of which feature leaves that are much reduced in size and compact, mounded heights generally under 2'.

'Bonsai' A choice introduction of a dwarf andromeda with small distinctive roundish leaves, ideal for bonsai and rock gardens. White flowers appear at a young age. [url=https://www.rarefindnursery.com/index.cfm/action/productdetail/product_id/2148.htm]It is upright growing and very dense[/url].


'Compacta' is a popular slow growing, compact dwarf form that only reaches 4' tall, flowers heavily with white blooms and is suitable for smaller landscapes.

[img]https://cat.hollyridgeonline.com/images/PierisjaponicaCompacta.jpg[/img]

'Bisbee Dwarf' - white flowers, compact plant, leaves half usual size, red when young and is valued chiefly for its small, twisted leaves. A very compact and bushy dwarf, slightly larger than 'Pygmaea.' Glossy dark green leaves have a slight twist, and new growth emerges with a red tinge.

'Nocturne' is a dwarf, slow growing dense 2-3' "Andromeda" which blooms with large pendulous flowers in spring. The foliage is long and narrow, similar to its parent P. j. yakushimanum. [url=https://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/consumer/factsheets/shrubs/cultivars/pieris_japon-nocturne.html]An ideal plant for that small space or rock garden[/url].


'[url=https://www.rarefindnursery.com/index.cfm/action/productdetail/product_id/2162.htm]Pygmaea[/url]' - dwarf, to 3 to 4 ft high, leaves small and very narrow with white flowers.

'Cavatine' - hardy (USDA Zone 5), a selection of P. j. var. yakushimanum, compact, low growing mound; white flowers. A tight growing low mound with slightly upright racemes of white flowers blooming later than other pieris.

'Debutante' - A compact shrub with a height and width of about 4 feet, white flowers.

[img]https://www.pelargonie.cz/pieris2.jpg[/img]

'[url=https://www.rarefindnursery.com/index.cfm/action/productdetail/product_id/3657.htm]Prelude[/url]' - P. j. var. yakushimanum, dwarf, 2 ft x 3 ft and has white flowers.

[url=https://www.rarefindnursery.com/index.cfm/action/productdetail/product_id/4296.htm]'Little Heath'[/url]- A dwarf, compact 2' gem with dark green leaves that have silvery white margins and a pink flush when young. White flowers bloom in spring.

Pieris japonica `Bisbee Dwarf' (zone 6) - This small rounded form will work well for bonsai or rock gardens. The leaves are small and the plant is compact.

Pieris japonica `Pygmea' (zone 6) - At first glance this looks like some bizarre conifer rather than a broadleaf evergreen. It forms a rounded shrublet with a distinctive fine texture and speckles of green, red and yellow in the foliage. The leaves are half an inch long and very narrow and twisted.

If your full sun is 6 hours and not much more and/or in the morning, consider some of the dwarf Rhododendrons. The PJM series is a great choice for that. Some helpful info at this first link. Note especially the recommended book.
https://oregonstate.edu/dept/ldplants/rhpjm.htm
https://oregonstate.edu/dept/ldplants/rhpjm5.htm

Here is the site I mentioned that no longer sells to the public, but has fantastic info on selected plants. Look at the listings of Elepidote (large leafed) Rhododendrons as well as the species. Sometimes you will see a tiny camera just below the name in the list that will give you a picture. Also scroll down to the bottom of this first page for Rhodo heights and their abbreviations.

There are some dwarf Abelia that might fit the bill for you and they bloom in spring. Choose carefully for your hardiness zone as not all are evergreen. Here's some info on these.

https://www.hort.uconn.edu/Plants/a/abegra/abegra1.html

There are some dwarf Pittosporum that might work for you as well. Also choose these carefully as some can grow quite large. Here's some dwarfs that are interesting and quite pretty for their leaves, as the spring flowers are rather insignificant.

Pittosporum tobira 'Shima'. Click on the words to the left for the info. Click on the pics too.

Pittosporum tobira 'Wheeler's Dwarf'

Pittosporum tenuifolium 'Marjory Channon'

Dwarf Laurel could be another option.
Prunus laurocerasus ‘Mt. Vernon’ aka 'Mt. Vernon Dragon'
https://oregonstate.edu/dept/ldplants/prlamv.htm
https://oregonstate.edu/dept/ldplants/prlamv2.htm
https://oregonstate.edu/dept/ldplants/prlamv1.htm

There are some dwarf Japanese hollies - Ilex crenata - that grow in a mound and could fit the description you ask for. Ilex crenata 'Soft Touch' is one of my favorites. Look for the 'Dwarf' ones listed here. The second link is a close up of 'Soft Touch'.

https://www.bluesterling.com/Ilex.htm

[img]https://www.waynesboronurseries.com/prodimag/ilxcnsf.jpg[/img]

There are many varieties of narrow leaved evergreens that could be possibilities. Again you will have to choose carefully for the dwarf varieties. Even some of the dwarfs that only grow to 3' or so can grow to 15' wide!
Taxus cuspidata ‘[url=https://oregonstate.edu/dept/ldplants/tacusdbg.htm]Dwarf Bright Gold’[/url]

There are also dwarf Arborvitae.
Thuja occidentalis ‘Hetz Midget’ - the last pic is several plants grown together.
https://oregonstate.edu/dept/ldplants/thochm.htm

Thuja occidentalis 'Tiny Tim'


Thujopsis dolobrata 'Nana'

https://oregonstate.edu/dept/ldplants/thdon1.htm

For a quite unusual arborvitae, try Thuja plicata 'Whipcord'. This dwarf selection has thread-like branches and an arching habit. It grows to only two feet tall by three feet wide in 10 years.


Cryptomeria 'pygmaea' has bright green leaves which turn bronze in winter. The form can be a round ball or cone. Grows to three feet in height and wide in 10 years.
[img]https://www.botanypictures.com/plantimages/cryptomeria%20japonica%20'pygmaea'%2001.jpg[/img]

[img]https://www.botanypictures.com/plantimages/cryptomeria%20japonica%20'pygmaea'%2002.jpg[/img]

[img]https://www.lakberendezes.hu/pic/magazin/kert/torpek/torpek_18.jpg[/img]

I could go on here adnauseam, but I'd prefer you to think about the look you want and we can narrow it down more. There are dwarf pines and others as well. Get back to me with the look you want if none of these tickle your fancy.

Don't forget to add at least 3" of compost to the new planting bed and mix it in well. Here's a couple of calculators to help you along with how much you would need.

Compost and mulch calculator:
https://www.cedar-grove.com/calculator.asp
https://www.atstecks.com/mulch.htm

Newt
Last edited by Newt on Mon Nov 27, 2006 6:27 pm, edited 4 times in total.

galcho
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Posts: 9
Joined: Sun Nov 26, 2006 3:24 pm
Location: zone 8, Pacific Northwest

Great.Thank you very much, Newt. Now i have to find a lot of free time to do my reading.

Newt
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Posts: 1868
Joined: Wed May 26, 2004 2:44 am
Location: Maryland zone 7

Galcho, you are very welcome! I just noticed that some of the links I gave weren't posted properly and you couldn't click on them. I've fixed that.

Don't stay up all night reading. Try and get a sense of what you like and we can go from there. I also added a link for some dwarf and minature hollies that form a mound. Ilex crenata 'Soft Touch' is one of my favorites.

Newt

opabinia51
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Location: Victoria, BC

Newt, you are the best! 8)

Newt
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Posts: 1868
Joined: Wed May 26, 2004 2:44 am
Location: Maryland zone 7

Opabinia, you make me blush! :oops:

I keep several lists with different plants for different conditions and and situations just like this and usually refer to those for situations like this.

Newt

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