plant colors for a red brick ranch

katob Z6ish, NE PaOctober 6, 2012

I was hoping to get some color ideas for this bed in front of my house. I'm finally getting around to expanding the bed and figured I might as well try and show a little discipline when filling the new ground with plants.

I think the grays and blues that were planted here looked good with a few yellow spots scattered.... maybe it harmonized with the gray roof? But then I got it in my head that a red, orange, gold scheme would look a little more exciting and maybe work off the brick.

....but since I'm not all that crazy about the more orangey color of the brick, maybe working off that wasn't the brightest idea.

What kind of colors would you work into the bed?

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katob Z6ish, NE Pa

Here's another view. Sorry they are both on the dark side, but this one shows a little more of the red plantings.
Last year I had more chartreuse coleus and red cannas. It was bold, but not the right colors for the spot, so I tried toning down.
I was thinking something in the terra cotta range and softer yellows even?
On a non color note I'm planning to bulk up some of the plantings to give them a bit more mass for in front of the house, but it's so hard giving up four or five different plants in exchange for one larger mass... It's your typical compulsive collector problem, wanting it all but also wanting it to actually look good.
Thanks for reading

    Bookmark   October 6, 2012 at 1:37PM
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catkim(San Diego 10/24)

When I look at your photos, I note the lighter colors stand out while the darker colors recede, some even making a black hole effect. (It could be the quality of the photo.)

At first glance, the garden could benefit from some repetition. With everything different, the eye finds nowhere to rest. Perhaps repeat the yellow spiky thing near the porch a couple more times in front of some of the evergreens.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 4:53PM
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I definitely like the reds and yellows there. And while I love that bright blue, it doesn't seem to fit in. So I think the warm reds, oranges, yellows.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 6:28PM
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katob Z6ish, NE Pa

I think you hit on one of the main problems.... I really like the blue pots but they blend with nothing. Collector syndrome again. I do have a pair of gray ones that I'll put back there next summer, so that's a good idea to start with. The blue probably never stood out much for me, between the other competing colors and all the kids toys strewn about.
So the pots go.
The photo quality does make things look darker than they are, but I see what you mean about the lighter colors standing out.... Do you think more gray will look good with the yellow spike? (variegated yucca, love it btw). I might divide the blue fescue and make larger patches, that's what several of the small light spots are.
How about the bright yellow taller (still spindly) shrub to the left? It's a tiger eyes sumac and I was planning to let it take over the left corner. Is it too much brightness? Also I was going to let it get worse with some gold rudbeckia.... I'm getting excited again about the red-orange-yellow colors!.
How about if I do more repetition of the yellow? Maybe that can let me still have the variety I need but make it look a little more cohesive.

I'm going to see if I can find some better pictures from last year or get a little sun tomorrow for brighter photos. Thanks for the suggestions, I'm glad my red yellow mix hasn't been poo-pooed yet.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 8:29PM
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yes all that sounds great. I think the grays would work coz they are sorta neutral. I like all your ?conifers/evergreens in there too. Have you ever visited The Renegade Gardener? I like his stuff. Just do a search and especially his mixed borders. Mostly foliage and texture.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 11:09PM
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LOL! Oh, you sound like me! When we moved here it was all planted with pink flowers. Not good with the orange brick! Then, since I was so new to gardening, I had too much of a hodgepodge. So even though I haven't finished yet, I'll tell you what's working for me.
Scarlet carpet roses, diablo ninebark which is wicked against the house, grey folige artemesias with yellow in front of them but most of all BLUE.I have victoria blue salvia and lobelia and they really pop against the house and make all the other plants exciting, but the key is to plant big clumps of blue throughout the yard instead of only one spot. Orange and blue are complimentary colours so it's very vibrant, but in such a happy way.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2012 at 6:22PM
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katob Z6ish, NE Pa

I've been wasting a bunch of time on the regade gardener site, thanks! Haven't yet got to the perennial border posts since the 'dont do that' posts are too entertaining!

Didn't take pictures today (first day of sun) since I got caught up with lawn mowing and cleaning up at the MIL's house.... but I'm interested in the diablo ninebark suggestion. I never even considered purple foliage even though I've been using the grays and blues and really liked some red cabbage that I put there this summer. Hmmmm.
I think my dislike is from the fact that both houses on either side have either dark jap. maples of weigelas in front. I hate it there but I think it's because their houses have more brown and it all kind of becomes brown and boring. It might be a whole different story over by me.

I have to see if I can fit one in somewhere. There are a couple coppertina seedlings with nice color in the backyard, maybe I'll put one in to see if the purple grows on me.

So it sounds like I just need to bulk up a few patches and add some more blue and gray. That way I can keep the orange highlights and it should improve things alot. One of these weekends I hope to get the bed widened and move a couple thngs. I'll let you know how it goes, thanks for the ideas!
.... but don't expect it to look too good.... I just stuck in four new achilleas that needed homes. They're in the right color range (terra cottas and yellows) but it's not doing much as far as bulking up the plantings.... some day.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2012 at 7:30PM
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Yeah my gardens are ALWAYS works in progress, I never have them truly completed! There's another shrub/small tree called smokebush (maybe the real name is cotina or cotinia??) and it has purple foliage and pinkish feathery "flowers." Not sure what zone it's for but it grows here in 7b.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2012 at 9:22PM
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katob Z6ish, NE Pa

I found a picture from last year..... there was more repetition and larger blocks of color, but maybe it was a little too much. Who would have thought fire engine red salvias would have been too much red? I guess that's the big plus when growing annuals in the north, winter comes and gives you a second chance.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2012 at 8:06AM
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katob Z6ish, NE Pa

but annuals don't handle a rough summer well. This year the coleus and other annuals (not salvias) didn't do well, so the one mum took over.... I think it's a decent color for the spot and I should keep it. Also normally I think mums are too dull most of the year, but in this case the mum foliage is kind of grayish and I guess that's a plus here too. Any thoughts?

hmmmm. says my file is too big and won't do the picture.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2012 at 8:15AM
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katob Z6ish, NE Pa

ok back to photobucket

    Bookmark   October 13, 2012 at 8:36AM
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katob Z6ish, NE Pa

Still working on the bed.... actually still working on myself, because for as much as I try to plant in bigger groupings I just can't resist adding little bits here and there.
In all honesty it may look worse than last year. Three things I like are the blue fescue edging (Still sparse -since I could only divide my plants into this many clumps), the catmint clump, and the new position of the blue spruce.
I hate that I dropped in the light pink dahlia (had to get it planted... desperately) and I let all the tall weedy overgrown sunflowers grow and now remain so that the birds can continue to pick at the seeds....

There are three small holly plants that I put under the left window which will need at least three years to look like something, and I still can't commit to removing the taller evergreen.
Any thoughts? Comments?

    Bookmark   September 28, 2013 at 7:46AM
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katob Z6ish, NE Pa

It would be easier if I didn't like gardening, but how am I supposed to resist finding homes for all these goodies? I did try to add more gray foliage and blue flowers, and I do like the Victoria salvia. Still probably too much going on. I think the yellow (a coleus) might be too much too.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2013 at 7:50AM
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littlebug5(z5 MO)

I am particularly interested in the subject of colors of plants vs. colors of the home.

I agree with you - I think you have WAY too much going on. Way too many different plants and way too many colors. If you want all those plants, expand your beds. Or move them to the back yard. In my area - the Midwest - we don't see so much variations of planting in the front yards. People usually do that kind of jumbled plantings in their backyards.

Anyway, back to color. I don't like the reds, oranges, or golds at all. With your red-brick house, I'd do white flowers - lots and lots of white. Shasta daisies, perhaps. And maybe a spot or two of clear canary yellow. And some accents of bright clear blue.

The front of my house is cedar-shingle which has aged to medium brown. In the front foundation planting I have grasses, two shrubs with a yellowish tint, yellow daylilies, white and blue salvia, a hydrangea that will eventually (I hope) bloom blue, midget white spirea, and a lilac on the corner. Oh, and a few Black eyed Susans just around the corner on the side. I think those colors show up very clearly in front of my brown house.

I like true red flowers, but I have them on the backside of my house, where it has kind of a creamy yellow steel siding.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2013 at 4:50PM
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The repetition of the blue fescue is a big improvement. I think you should think less about color and more about simplifying the bed. Is that a Hollywood Juniper blocking the window?

    Bookmark   September 28, 2013 at 5:50PM
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catkim(San Diego 10/24)

Just because you like all the clothes in your closet or all the jewelry in your jewelry box doesn't mean you would wear everything at once. Think about it.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2013 at 8:18PM
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katob Z6ish, NE Pa

Some good things to think about. You're both making sense and possibly even getting through to me. So this fall/spring I'll split all the fescue again and really try to get a solid border and maybe a bit of mass. I might come out with the left end of the border some more.
I wish I could say I like the idea of white but it's my least favorite color out front. There's already white trim and white porch railings and the neighbor has plenty of white vinyl fencing.... I feel like it's pointless to add white flowers (I actually dug up and removed a clump of 'becky' that was out there).
The yellow accents and blue might work out, but my wife just informed me she doesn't like the yellow :(
So I've been messing around in paint and it seems just about everything has to go, even my beloved 'tiger eyes' sumac. There is a variegated red twig dogwood behind the sumac, but the red twigs always seemed pointless in front of the red house.... but maybe I'll take another look at it for the white variegation, that can be my my 'test white' in the area.
I may split the catmint and get another bunch or two of that going.
I think I'm still going to stand by the color guard yucca (spiky yellow to the right), I divided a piece of this spring and it's near the blue spruce, just too small to notice. It my make for a nice spot of yellow and not obvious enough for my wife to complain about.
And I should really cut the evergreen down. I think it's a Chamaecyparis, it's not a juniper.
Sounds like a plan? I'll try to update but it may be a while. Hopefully this time things will begin to look a little better :)

    Bookmark   September 28, 2013 at 8:40PM
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katob Z6ish, NE Pa

Catkim- I see your point, but sometimes you want to have a party where all your friends are invited. It gets a little loud sometimes but it's more fun than sitting around in beige sweater vests.
Right now I think if I can just get a couple of the drunks out of the pool, I'll still be able to have some fun without the police getting called. :)

    Bookmark   September 28, 2013 at 9:37PM
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littlebug5(z5 MO)

You might not like white flowers, but I think they'll POP right out in front of the red brick. Paint some in and see what you think. They will be much much more visible than the red or gold.

I like the fescue, too. I think the grey/silver/blue color is a good one for the red brick. Do you have any Artemisea? And Lambs ear is good. Your plantings need to contrast with your house color to show well.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2013 at 3:53PM
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katob Z6ish, NE Pa

Ok ok, I'll give the white a try. The Becky Shasta daisy doesn't bloom long enough for me, but maybe something like an achillea is a possibility. A white one with gray leaves or even a pale yellow?
I do like the artemisia idea. This would be the perfect chance to add a Powis castle! Maybe lambs ears too, but I'm wondering if they might just blend into the blue fescue. Not close up but from further away the two might be too close in height and color.
I have a lot of things that need new homes....

    Bookmark   September 29, 2013 at 10:08PM
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pinksand(7a MD)

"Right now I think if I can just get a couple of the drunks out of the pool, I'll still be able to have some fun without the police getting called. :)" These analogies had me cracking up! I'm pretty much in the same boat with the garden in front of my red brick house... it's just too much going on and I'm having to move things around to add some repetition instead of competition. I love the new placement of your spruce and fescue. I also love the idea of the Powis castle! It's such a nice pop of bright silver texture. I'm not a fan of the red with the brick and agree that the blue is a nice contrast. I have several abelias (3 kaleidoscope and 1 confetti) that stand out nicely from the street against the brick. Some variegated leaves should stand out nicely. I have patches of candy tuft that cascade a bit over our brick walk and put on a beautiful white show in the spring. It's not too exciting the rest of the year, but it also doesn't get ugly and works as a good ground cover. Just some thoughts :)

    Bookmark   October 9, 2013 at 3:23PM
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katob Z6ish, NE Pa

Ok. Enough thumbs down on the red, I guess that color is officially off the list.
.... Even though the rusty colored mums are at their peak right now, it's off to the backyard next year.(so I can make a mess back there too!)
More gray and Blue... What a dull plan, but I guess I need to tone it down at least until the evergreens grow in more and add an easier background color for the bed.
I'm surprised the blue spruce survived the move, and the hollies are doing better than expected. I just need something short for the corner where the too-tall evergreen is, maybe a yaku rhododendron? They're all in the wrong colors though unless I find a pure white one.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2013 at 6:32AM
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pinksand(7a MD)

I actually really like the rusty mum with the color of the brick, it's the brighter red like the annual salvias you had previously used that seem to compete with the red brick... at least for my taste. I don't think it has to be boring and I definitely don't think you should ONLY work with blues and grays. You clearly like color, my two cents is why do something that you don't like... it's your house! Work on adding a little repetition of colors and like textures throughout the space and keep experimenting until you find something that you like.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2013 at 10:01AM
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PKponder TX(7b)

Don't move the orange mums! You have such nice and appealing plants and my favorite picture of all was the mums with the red pom poms...strawberry fields something :-)

You are certainly on the right track with fewer and larger groupings, but you have to be happy too. I could hear the sadness about moving your pretties to the back yard in your words. It's your garden and should bear your unique stamp (with the wife's approval, of course). The mums make an awesome statement and the clump is large enough to be it's own grouping.

That is an amazing sumac, but I can't see it against the brick. It deserves a showcase spot :-) I was mistaken. It's a different plant under the window that I can't 'see' !

Skulking back off to my plant zoo :-)


This post was edited by pkponder on Mon, Oct 14, 13 at 22:47

    Bookmark   October 14, 2013 at 6:22PM
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