What do you think I should do in this little flower bed?

LadyKayMarch 7, 2012

Hello! We moved into our house about a year ago with no prior experience taking care of a garden/yard. As you walk up to our door, there is a little garden on the right and on the left.

The one on the right has a magenta crape myrtle which was already there. I planted two blue plumbagos last summer which did well but they are pretty sparse looking now.

At the beginning of winter I planted some snapdragons. In front of those I put some silvery plants and in front of that some alyssum. On the corner I put some dianthus. Around the corner I just put in a new little boxwood.

-What do you think I should do with the bare spots? Do you think I should wait for the blue plumbagos to fill in? Should I plant some more snapdragons? Do you know if snapdragons will last through the summer here in the Houston area?

-What should I plant to the left of the boxwood bush? There's a drainage pipe there so not much soil depth on top of that.

-Do I need to try to rake up all those leaves? Or should I just pour mulch on top? It just looks kind of messy to me and everyone in my neighborhood has really neat and tidy front gardens so I am trying hard to keep up. Should I give up with all the flowers and just try out some round and rectangular trimmed evergreen bushes like most other neighbors?

Thank you for any help! :)

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I always like the bad news first - the crepe myrtle is too close to the house and should be moved while it still can be. The boxwood will eventually outgrow it's little space, but that can take a hard pruning to keep it for a few years. The fallen leaves are okay.

The silvery plants are Dusty Miller - and I think the snaps, plumbago, alyssum, and dianthus are fine. A nice change from the tortured into submission evergreens in some yards. Snaps will wilt when they need water; but they'll put out more bloom spikes if you pinch off the spent ones. Your conditions in zone 8 are much different than mine in zone 4 - we rarely get prolonged heat enough to bake a garden like you probably do in Houston.

I wouldn't plant anything directly over the buried downspout extension - too easy to forget it's there and slice through it with a shovel or something. Some more snaps underneath the arrow, some more allysum on the up side of the dianthus and you're all set.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2012 at 5:00PM
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Some hardy plants hosta,halimium,rosemary...may be work.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2012 at 5:44PM
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Welcome to 8b. You don't have much there that's not going to look pretty ragged by the end of June. The plumbago will just be hitting its stride, though, and I'd want more of it. It's a zone 9 plant, but it seems to thrive in 8b. I might try to identify the crape myrtle and check its growth characteristics before uprooting it. I've got a dwarf type that is very well behaved at 3-4 ft. Rosemary might require a lot less fuss than some of your plantings, and should stay evergreen. Actually, much can be said for small, green shrubs (dwarf yaupon, etc.) in these conditions. Your neighbors, after all, have endured some of these summers.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2012 at 8:18PM
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natal(Louisiana 8b)

Agree that the CM is too close to the house. What variety is it?

Your snapdragons will bite the dust as soon as the heat sets in. They'll be lucky to make it through April. Not sure how long the alyssums last. This was my first winter to grow them, but I know they can't take our heat either. The plumbago will eventually get much bigger. Keep that in mind.

I don't care for boxwoods or any shrubs that have to be pruned into a specific shape. My taste runs to the natural look. If you want something evergreen that also blooms all summer take a look at abelias. Edward Goucher or one of the smaller varieties would work well in that space.

My summer flower choices would be Serena angelonia along with some Butterfly pentas.

No need to remove the existing leaves. You can mulch over them. I would use pine straw.

Serena Angelonia

Butterfly pentas

    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 12:03PM
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Thank you all for the suggestions! You've given me a lot to think about and some new plants to learn about and consider. I guess I will wait for the current plants to die off and the plumbago to get bigger before making any decisions. Evergreens are sounding more and more like a good idea because it seems tough to balance out the winter vs summer blooming plants!

Re the crepe myrtle, I have no idea what variety it is. A cursory google search didn't help. Is the problem that it will get too tall? Or that the roots will mess up the foundation? The house was 8 years old when we bought it so I assume that's as tall as it will get?

    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 2:26PM
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Sure looks like a dwarf variety to me. You can wait till it blooms, take a pic of it, and see if your local nursery can identify it.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 2:37PM
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What is illustrated here is a landscape problem commonly encountered in tract housing developments. Generally the southern designer will plant and espalier one white blooming Camellia sasanqua dead center on the brick wall. It is an easy to maintain, attractive solution. The particulars of this approach are best learned by visiting a large design/install nursery that is familiar with the desired plant shape necessary and espalier methods used to secure the Camellia to the brick. A trellis is not required if planting has been done by a professional.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2012 at 8:43AM
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Brad Edwards

I would replace the crape myrtle with new zealand flax. I would also add new zeland flax 5ftest. I would fill in with sweet potato vine after the last frost, plant some onion or something edible.

Have you considered a herb garden in that location? Not sure about sun/water/proximity to kitchen, but it looks like its a good size for one, Mint might be good there as it goes crazy and the bed looks contained.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2012 at 9:36AM
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