design help for existing front garden

myschmoopy(Z6 NE PA)April 30, 2013

Hoping this might be the spot for input. Need recommendations on plant and general design asthetic for my existing North facing front foundation garden. No hardscape changes at this time. front half of bed receives afternoon sun. Back half recieves no direct sun. Bright shade.

A Jane Magnolia will go on the NE corner (you'll see it in the pic). Heuchera planted along the front, they do well and we like them. Maybe not in the right spot though. Three hostas on right hand side bordering the corner. Everything else in the garden will be transplanted elsewhere.

Also in the front yard a Kousa dogwood centering the garden in middle of lawn. To right of the garden, small covered patio then two car garage with blue atlas on the far NW corner.

Thinking of fire and ice hydrangea, on the side without windows. One or two? Having a hard time determing best perennials for all season interest and working best with the magnolia and hydrangea. Not a big astilbe fan, but perhaps. Thoughts or ideas? Thank you!!!

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melle_sacto(Z9/Sunset 14 CA)

I have a few questions:

- how deep is the garden bed currently?
- have you considered the full size of the plants when deciding where to plant them and how much space to allow?
- did you select anything that is evergreen, to help "anchor" the bed when the rest of the perennials/shrubs are dormant?

    Bookmark   April 30, 2013 at 4:22PM
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How far will the magnolia be from the house? I'd make sure it was a good distance to give it room as needed (I am not familiar with their growth habit and do not know how far it should be but so many homes, including ours, have small trees too close to the house).

I'd plant one hydrangea shrub, not two... Well, I would tell myself to only plant one but think it looked too empty at first so I'd
plant some more stuff and then have to take a lot of it out in 3 years when the shrub has grown.

For year round interest I'd look into small boxwood and carex grasses.

How about hellebores? You might even be able to grow some Siberian iris there--I have sone in a shady spot that do quite well.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2013 at 5:45PM
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myschmoopy(Z6 NE PA)

bed size is about 21' long x 7' deep. I do want some evergreen, just not sure what. There is an overhang off the house that puts us at about 7' max height. We did have a conifer in the areea without windows, but really looked odd. we tore it out. Size of plants is important, that's why I'm having such a hard time. Size, color and season length.....

    Bookmark   April 30, 2013 at 5:47PM
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Here's a nice article on conifers for shade with pics.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2013 at 6:24PM
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myschmoopy(Z6 NE PA)

Thank you trovesoftrilliums. Yes, concious of space for magnolia. It has a spread of around 10'. We're hoping to keep it pruned so as not to get too large. It will be about 9' from the corner of house. I did just purchase hellebores. Just one though. Problem is, everything that I find is spring blooming, What about my mid-late summer:)
Thanks for link on confers, will check it out.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2013 at 8:26PM
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Won't the magnolia bloom in spring and after that just be green leaves? So I don't think that will be much of an issue and I think quite a few shade perennials will work with the hydrangea. You mentioned liking Heuchera and those have many options for colored leaves - from dark to light. Pulmonaria also have a lot of leaf options to brighten shade. Rozanne or other geraniums should do fine and give you a long bloom time in the summer. I've heard that daylillies will do OK too but have never tried them. I agree about looking at more shrubs for structure in the area. We have (round) Boxwood in the shade and they are doing great but if you want something taller and more cone shape, you could check out Green Mountain. There should be some yews available too. Very soon, I am replacing my astilbes with Little Henry Sweetspire to hopefully give me more structure and longer color. There might be more options for your zone than we have here.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2013 at 12:50PM
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melle_sacto(Z9/Sunset 14 CA)

I think it sounds really pretty! I agree that it's a good idea to look for variety of colors in the leaves rather than the blooms. We are revamping our yard, not an expert designer by any means, and I've been trying to think more about evergreen plants and shades of green rather than flower color.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2013 at 2:18PM
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