spookstaz
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Opinions/suggestions on my flowerbed?

Hello, my wife and I recently bought a townhouse. She put me in charge of the flowerbeds and I've been enjoying the challenge of being a first-time gardener.

The flowerbed in question is zone 5a, facing northwest. Dimensions 3x8 feet. Shade for most of the day and a few hours of sun from mid-afternoon until sunset. The flowerbed is subject to strong northeast winds, due to a lack of trees. We planted a new tree in the front lawn but growth will take time. Another constraint, we cannot block too much of the sidewalk.

Originally, the front flowerbed was completely overgrown with goutweed. After months of digging and dedication, I think it is finally all gone.

This spring I panted a hodge-podge of different plants.

Back row left to right:
Hydrangea: Transplanted from my mom's garden. Grew well, but produced almost no flowers..
Queen of the prairie: Grew well, but wind would crack of those tall flower stems
Astibe: No complaints here
Rhododendron: In front of the Astilbe. Had red flowers in May. Leaves look healthy. Fighting for space.
Hick's Yew: It's supposed to be an evergreen bush but it is growing tall thin stalks. Not sure if I should keep it.
Black Snakeroot: Not performing well, leaves are turning brown.
Windercreeper (emerald gaity): Only original plant not choked out by the goutweed. Gave it a trellis to support.
Hydrangea: Same as the other one, but smaller. No flowers.
Bleeding hearts: Transplanted. Very few flowers

Front row left to right:
Green & white hosta: Had lots of space when I planted it but it looks crowded out now.
Dusty Miller: They seem to like this plot, they grew big. almost too big.
Marigolds: Not pictured, slugs ate them to the ground!
Carnations: Over time they got completely crowded out by dusty miller
Green hosta: Ugly.. almost destroyed by slugs
Begonias: Performed well with no issues, would plant again next year.
Blue and green hosta: Doing well, very few holes from slugs.

So my question is, what would you change in the flower bed next spring? Which perennials would you replace? Which annuals would you plant? I am hoping for more color next year.
July 2015
July 2015
May 2015: During planting
May 2015: During planting
2014
2014

imafan26
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Location: hawaii, zone 12a 587 ft elev.

Re: Opinions/suggestions on my flowerbed?

Definitely cut down the plant list and plant more of what grew well.
Cut down on the total number of plants because there won't be enough room for them when they mature.

Begonias, hosta, coral bells (heuchera) should do well there. If you don't have children or pets four o'clocks will give you some color in the evenings. Balance the plantings so they are grouped for effect but interplant so they occupy different levels and balance each other out.
Plant low plants under the window and plant in groups of three or more. If you are allowed, I would put a trellis in a pot by the down spout and plant a vine like jessamine and let it climb up the trellis not on the house to hide the downspout. It has a pleasant fragrance at night.

In that much shade do not expect marigolds, carnations or most flowers to do well. They need at least 6 hours of sun.
You can choose plants that have interesting leaf forms, color and variegation. Not too much color, the more variegated or less green the leaves are, the more light they need.
Use slug bait for the snails or set out beer traps.
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spookstaz
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Location: Kirkland, QC

Re: Opinions/suggestions on my flowerbed?

Thanks so much for the reply! Agree, I will not be planting marigolds or carnations next year.

A downspout trellis is an interesting idea. There's a black hose below the spout so a pot there would require a stand. The small hydrangea bush there was supposed to hide the hose, but it didn't flower.

How about the white and green hosta, should I move it? I could remove the plain green hosta from the center of the bed to make space.

Would plant begonias again. Coral bells and four o'clocks, I will definately consider these.

Tried slug pellets.. not sure whether they helped. Beer traps could be fun to try :twisted: .

The white-leaved dusty miller plants grew way too big. They are even bigger now than in the picture. :D Question is should I plant any dusty miller next year? Maybe just one on each side?

HoneyBerry
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Re: Opinions/suggestions on my flowerbed?

The rhody will grow much bigger and since it is close to the house I suggest shaping it as it grows by pruning away the branches that are on the house side. I did that with my pink rhody. It turned out nice. The root is close to the house and the plant leans forward away from the house. Here is a picture of it:
image.jpg
Here is my mature red rhody. I get lots of compliments on it when it's in bloom. Someday yours will probably look similar to this one.
image.jpg
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imafan26
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Re: Opinions/suggestions on my flowerbed?

Your hose hanger is right under the window. I don't like hose hangers on the wall. When we bought this house there were gouges on the wall we could not explain. It took awhile but we figured out it was from a hose hanger it was near the faucet. It must have gotten old and the house has redwood walls. The bolts from the hose hanger caused the gouges and the wood had a little bit of wood rot from the bolts so it got cleaned up and puttied when the house got repainted.
Instead of a hose hanger you could use a hose bowl or pot instead. Some come with lids which is helpful if you want to keep other things from getting in the pot. The pots can be decorative but expensive. I use a large bowl planter for the hose. It helps to keep the hose from kinking and it does keep it neater and the bowl is decorative but an earth color so it will stand out less. I use the hose often so having a lid is inconvenient but I can put a plywood circle that I have stained and water sealed to fit over the bowl. I got the round pre cut from home depot. They are used to make bistro tables. I can put my St. Fiacre statue on it when I have garden guests. Right now, he has lost his head, I have to glue it back on. I did have to find someone to drill the hole for me since I was afraid I might crack the pot. If you get a resin pot it is lighter and easier to drill but you might have to weigh it down or partially bury it. Ceramic bowls are heavy enough that they won't fall over when you pull out the hose. If you are lucky you might find something like it at a recycling place, Marshall's, Ross, second hand store, or garage sale.
https://www.ebay.com/bhp/hose-pot

The dusty miller can get to be over three feet tall so it does need to go probably to the downspout corner. It looks like that is where there is the most sun. I have a liking for alyssum. It is an annual unless you get alyssum saxatile which is a perennial except it won't grow in my climate. Alyssum goes from seed to bloom in six weeks and is a low mounding plant. It can get wide but can be sheared back. It would be good for the front of the border. The hydrangea can stay there or move over to where the wall is. Eventually it will need to be pruned for size. You also want something taller where the wall is or put some wall art up if you are allowed so you are not staring at a blank wall. Hydrangeas do not bloom more than once a year for me and I prefer something with a longer bloom period. I only keep annual bloomers if they have something else going for them other than bloom. I have amaryllis and agapanthus that bloom only once a year but they do not require a lot of care; I don't have anything better to plant there and they are low maintenance for me.

Another principle of design. Make sure the colors are complementary. Pink and pale blue go together but red and blue do not. Limit the colors to just a few or you can have different colors if they do not bloom at the same time. It is more advanced to figure out when things bloom so it is best for now just to have a simple color scheme of just a couple of colors and stick to that.
Last edited by imafan26 on Tue Sep 22, 2015 5:55 am, edited 1 time in total.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

HoneyBerry
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Re: Opinions/suggestions on my flowerbed?

I don't care for hose hangers on the outside wall either. Hoses are usually dirty and so the dirt from the hoses gets on the siding. And the wad of hanging hoses doesn't look all that great.
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applestar
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Re: Opinions/suggestions on my flowerbed?

I have a similar situation with a NW facing foundation bed.

What I have found is that the orientation means that during the summer long days, blazing westering sun absolutely BAKES -- in your case, especially with the brick wall reflecting it. So even though it is not a full sun location, you need to plant heat tolerant plants. The baking also dries out the soil when the bed is located in the center of the wall with overhead rain gutters carrying away the rain from the eaves and the corner downspouts are directed to flow away.

Plants that typically do better with morning sun will not do well. Hydrangea and rhododendron may be having that problem, though in your northern location the sun may not get as hot. Also, the macrophylla hydrangea will likely get winter killed to the ground and only grow new shoots from the roots in spring (if it survived the winter) so you will need cultivars that bloom on new wood... Or plant more winter hardy species. -- but keep in mind the narrow size of the bed -- 3 feet width is rather narrow for larger shrubs like these.

So you will need to look for dry shade tolerant plants. Coral bells (heuchera) definitely and wax begonias will do well planted in the front where they get more sun. Astilbes are also doing well for me but the ones I have get much taller with flower plumes at about 24"-28" when in bloom.

Other plants to consider might be Iris cristata (crested Iris) and Solomon's Seal (Polygonatum odoratum var. pluriflorum 'Variegatum').


Surprisingly, shorter hot peppers grow well in the front of the bed -- Hot Lemon, Scotch Bonnet, Fish all grew well and produced nicely last year (I didn't plant them there this year because I was trying something else.) if you are not interested in edibles, you could try ornamental peppers which are usually hot pepper varieties.

You'll want to concentrate on annuals because during the shorter days, NW exposure gets NO SUN. This will affect dormant evergreens. However, the area in front of the white window trim and windows will get a little extra reflected light that you may be able to take advantage of so keep that in mind.

Also, you might want to consider planting spring blooming bulbs now or soon (planting window is around first frost until a month before ground freezes) -- snowdrops, grape hyacinths and daffodils/jonquils will do well. It will be too shady for crocuses, tulips and full size hyacinths.

If you plant the bulbs a little way back from the front edge, they won't flop onto the walkway and you will be able to plant annuals in front of them to obscure the browning foliage after the spring blooms are over.
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spookstaz
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Re: Opinions/suggestions on my flowerbed?

Wow so many amazing responses!

@BirdLover: When I planted the rhodos my thought was they would get tall enough to hide the basement window well and reach the base of the main floor window so I could look out and see them from the living room. I was also thinking they would help to obscure the hose, but after seeing the size of your rhodos and considering how mine grew from 12in up to 24in in one season, I've realized that in a few years the hose holder will become inaccessible. I will try to prune them in a similar way to how you pruned yours. My thought is to let them get taller and wider but to limit the depth so I can still get one row of small annuals in front.

HoneyBerry
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Re: Opinions/suggestions on my flowerbed?

I'll send you another picture of that rhody later on, a picture from the side that shows how it is shaped to grow away from the house.
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HoneyBerry
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Re: Opinions/suggestions on my flowerbed?

image.jpg
This is the pink rhody again. It's fall, so no flowers. If you look st it closely, you can see how it leans forward. I shaped it that way by gradually pruning away the branches on the house side of the plant.
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