Vegangirl's Ugly Driveway Bed

vegangirl(z6 VA)October 19, 2005

Finally got this together!

The driveway runs north-south and then turns west. This is a view from the driveway side. I like and want to keep the split rails because my great-grandfather split them from American chestnut. The length of the long side of the L is 56 ft. Exposure is full sun.

This is a view of the other side of the bed. The edges of this side are curvy.

This is the section I want to re-do now. It is 26 ft long and 10 ft wide. The length and width can vary some if necessary. This is facing south.

Same section facing east. The original bed lies between the two tools that are stuck up in the ground. The other brown areas are piles of weeds I've recently dug out of the bed.

This is a bird's eye view taken from DD's window through the screen.

This is a list of plants I have to work with for a sunny area.

Achillea Moonshine', ÂKing Edward' (6")

Aster--Celeste (dark blue, 18")

Honeysong Pink (30")

Purple Dome (18")

Violet Carpet (16-18")

Snow Cushion (16-18")

Unnamed (violet, 36")

Armeria, ÂPink Pride'

Aquilegia, Pink Tower, Blue Tower, dwarf mixed

Azalea, ÂDarkie' (dark pink, decidious)

Campanula persicifolia, white

Colchicum, pale pink

Coreopsis ÂMoonbeam'

Daffodils, many varieties, bloom times from late Mar to late May

Daylilies, many, every color

Dianthus, ÂTiny Rubies, ÂItsaul White', seed grown mix of pinks, red, etc

Doronicum ÂMagnificum'

Echinacea ÂMagnus'

Gailardia ÂBurgundy'

Geranium- ÂJohnson's Blue', ÂNimbus'

Gladious- coral, pink, red, white, peach (I leave them in the ground all the time)

Helianthemum-'Annabell' (Dbl peach)

Helenium, yellow

Heuchera-'Palace Purple', ÂFirefly'

Incarvillea- pink (3)


Iris--bearded--pale yellow, maroon, lavender, white, peach, yellow/purple (very short), white/purple, medium yellow/brown

Iris, siberian-'Butter & Sugar', ÂSnow Queen', purple, blue

Liatris--purple, white

Lily, Asiatic--apricot, yellow, vivid orange, pink, very dark coral (this one is short-18")

Lupine--dark pink

Monarda- ÂBlue Stocking', ÂPrairie Night'

Mums yellow, bronze (cushion); tall apricot that blooms mid Oct to frost

Painted Daisy ÂRobinson's Red', ÂJames Kellway' (pink)

Oriental poppy-'Royal Wedding' (white); orange

Peony- 3-white, pink, very pale pink

Penstemon-'Elfin Pink', Cambridge Dwarf (pink); Navigator mix (4)

Phlox subulata--pale blue, candy stripe, white

Phlox paniculata--'Blue Boy', ÂDavid', ÂStarfire', ÂMiss Kelly', ÂPrime Minister'

Platycodon- dwarf blue, tall white, tall blue

Potentilla fruticosa- ÂGoldfinger' (2)

Potentilla thurberi 'Monarch's Velvet' (red, 24")


Salvia- ÂBlue Bedder' (2);

Sedum--'Autumn Joy', ÂAutumn Fire', ÂVera Jameson', ÂFrosty Morn'

Shasta Daisy, ÂAlaska' (28")

Spirea- ÂGold Flame' (2); ÂShibori' (2-3')

Stokesia- blue

Syringa meyeri ÂPalibin' (3-4')

Surprise lilies, pink

Thalictrum aquil.-lavender

Veronica- ÂSunny Border Blue', Blue Carpet

I'll be happy to supply any information that anybody needs. When I look at the pictures, I shudder! I am so looking forward to getting suggestions and ideas. Thanks so much!!!


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vegangirl(z6 VA)

Forgot something! Those big metal arches are going to become part of a bridge and will be moved!

    Bookmark   October 19, 2005 at 8:16PM
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Woody_Canada(~USz5 - Canada)

Now that is gardening on a large scale!

Have you ever read Gertrude Jekyll's Colour Schemes for the Flower Garden? It was originally published in 1935 and remains in print. It is, in my mind, the classic book on using color in the garden. Her garden at Munstead Wood was famous for its long border that shaded colors from paler at the ends to a crescendo of reds in the center and did all sorts of clever things re warm and cool colors and their effect on perception of distance and such. If you haven't read it, read it; if you have read it, read it again with your driveway border in mind.

Ever since you posted the picture of your daylily bed, I've had an image in my mind of a border with daylilies shading through the colors in a Jekyll-like fashion. The other plants you list include some that would fit with the warmer colors that are common in daylilies and others that are cooler colors that could make up the other sections of a Jekyll style long border.

From your plant list it sure sounds like you've got enough plants to cover a lot of territory so, if I were you, I'd start by thinking through the whole driveway border and plan roughly where I'd want each color section to be and figure out where the section you are clearing fits in the color scheme and then chose the plants from your list that would fit that section's colors.

Can you tell that I plan my beds with color ar a dominant consideration:-) ? Every time I go to the Royal Batanical Garden nearby when the iris garden is in bloom, I am overwhelmed by a desire to rearrange their platings - by color instead of botanical groupings!

Here's a fuzzy photo of the iris garden from a couple of years ago - your daylily patch reminded me of it although the daylily colors are warmer. I think both irises and dayliles cry out for an exuberant celebration of color!

    Bookmark   October 19, 2005 at 9:03PM
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vtskiers(z6a CentralCT)

VG, I'm not good at helping people with plant selections-especially in full sun because I don't have much of it. The way I would tackle an area of this size though is to place hardscapes, trees and shrubs first before making any perennial decisions.

If you plan to have pathways or perhaps a seating area, get an idea of where those will be. You definitely have room for some small trees and lots of shrubs. You may even want to place some evergreens(conifers). These are the plants that will carry your garden throughout the seasons. Here is a list of some of my favorite woody plants. Some are not suitable for full sun. Since we're in the same zone all should be hardy for you. Excuse the spelling, I'm doing them all from memory.


Oxydendron arboreum (Sourwood)
Cercis canadensis 'Forest Pansy' (Redbud)
Japanese maples (many varieties)
Heptacodium micronoides
Cornus mas (Cornelian Cherry Dogwood)
Cornus kousa (many varieties)
Hammamelis cultivars (witchhazels)


Viburnums-too many to get into
Physocarpus 'Diablo', 'Summer Wine'
Hydrangea paniculata (lots of cultivars here too)
Azaleas (summer blooming)
Cotinus cultivars
Fothergilla gardenii
Salix purpurea nana
Corylopsis spicata, pauciflora
Variegated red and yellow twig dogwoods
Hydrangea quercifolia cultivars (need some shade)
Roses-the low maintenance varieties like Knock Out, Carefree Wonder, etc

I'm sure Monique will have more suggestions. Perennials have really started taking a secondary role for me and I've become less tolerant of short bloomers and foliage that doesn't hold up after the flowers fade.

Hope this helps you somewhat.


    Bookmark   October 19, 2005 at 9:37PM
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If you want to take the time you are invited to click on the photo link on our personal page. I have just added a few photos to the 2005 album. we have little room left for perennials because the originals have become mature and we have favorite annuals such as zinnias for summer color. We put peonies on the terrace for spring and luecantha for late summer into fall, different lilies, day lilies, and salvias for in between. A variety of flowering shrubs blooming at different intervals including flowering quince, spirea, forsythia, rugosa roses, callicarpa, nandina, crepe myrtle, buddlea. The McCartney shrub rose has bloomed since spring and is still blooming. My old auto focus camera didn't produce very clear pictures this year. EP

    Bookmark   October 19, 2005 at 11:01PM
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Full_Bloom(z5 IL)

Hi Vegangirl! First let me say your driveway bed is *not* ugly and I think that is *so* neat that your great grandfather made that fencing...definitely a treasure to hold onto. You have so many great plants on your list that you probably won't need to go out and buy anything!:-)

Woody & Sue had some great points to make and though I'm not an expert, they both brought up the two most important considerations I have when starting a bed: 1) Good woody plants to give structure. Sue your list is fabulous and I have copied and printed it out for my own reference! :-) I also try to visualize the bed in terms of seasons. Our growing season is so short that I want as much color and "show" as I can get for every season. Staple perennials for me are Spring Bulbs like tulips, daffs. and ornamental onions, peonies & irises are also definites for spring. Definitely have to have some diease and winter hardy roses, perennial geraniums, daylilies, clematis, and lilies for summer, and then anemones, some select ornamental grasses, some asters and mums for fall. Of course there's tons of plants for each of these season, but these are the ones that really are the staples in my garden. Like Woody, I tend to think in terms of color too. Not to say I don't I love gardens that are just a rainbow too...I just have a hard time visualizing that way. Choosing colors that harmonize together kind of helps to narrow down my selection; like a hot bed: red, yellow, orange, purple...or a cool bed: blues, purples, pinks, whites, or my favorite these days: jewel tones of purples, deep blues, magentas, deep pinks, with splashes of gold. I'm also trying these days to pick more plants that just have fabulous foliage and structure...sometimes non-blooming plants do more for a garden then bloomers do! :-)
Also, sometimes it helps to figure out what style appeals to you most or what you want your garden to express, country, cottage, formal, romantic, victorian etc. and consider how much work you want to do, as far as maintenance...that's why I don't really grow hybrid teas, but I couldn't live without the workhorse roses like Knockout, Carefree, Meidiland, etc. Don't forget to check out books from your library too...

And EP reminded me too...definitely check EP's and all the Idylls who have photo links on their personal pages...they are a wealth of inspiration...lots of fabulous gardeners here and what is really neat is that every one of them has a style all their own and every one so'll have lots of fun.


    Bookmark   October 19, 2005 at 11:54PM
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Woody_Canada(~USz5 - Canada)

VG - I was thinking of your driveway border more overnight (nothing I like to do more than plan gardens in my head....:-) and Sue's comments are just what my second thoughts were! For that long a border, unless you have some garden staff (!), shrubs and trees may be the best way to go overall, tucking perennials, whith their higher maintenance requirements, into special pockets along the way. I'd still plan a color scheme of some sort and plan with entended bloom times in mind, not forgetting fall color issues. To Sue's list of shrubs, I'd add lilacs - great shrub border plants for semi-wild areas like long driveways, but they need pairing with some later flowering shrubs to extend season of interest of course. You should have lots of fun this winter planning it all!

    Bookmark   October 20, 2005 at 7:15AM
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flowerluvr(Z5 IN)

VG-not at all ugly! And, you've got a gorgeous background in the picture facing south. Must be stunning when all those trees start changing color. I'm not great at garden design...I've got a few hundred different plants, and still haven't managed to pull my "design" together. You've got a good list of plants to work with, and some great advice from some real pros-Woody, that iris garden photo is beautiful!
I'll be part of the cheering section, and lend moral support ;) Keep taking lots of pictures as you go. They help so much in the winter time when you're plotting and planning.
Your DD is going to have one sweet view from her window!
Good luck, I'm anxious to see more of the work in progress. I gotta run, but I had to pop in and see the pictures :)

    Bookmark   October 20, 2005 at 8:30AM
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chloehoover(z6b VA)

Wow, going to be great when you've re-worked it, VG. I think these experts are pointing you in the right direction -- getting some basic structure in first -- it's amazing how important shrubs and trees are. So if you can manage to swap or get cuttings of some shrubs, etc, you could get going that way. The thing that struck me first about your list of plants is that most of them are not large sized plants -- would I be correct in saying most under 3 feet? So unless you want to make a huge amount of maintenance work for yourself and family, you really do need to consider having some larger (maybe grasses?) things to intersperse - depending on how you want to view these beds as you're driving up the drive -- do you want the house hidden or shown off? Or a little bit of both in strategic areas? Dou yo need clear views in order to negotiate the drive?
You've got a lot to think and plan -- but I do believe they're giving you good advice about adding some "lower maintenance" stuff including shrubs, evergreens, etc.
Assuming the area you want to do now is the one at the end of the drive (fronting the other road?) I've seen some effective beds created w/ higher berms wherein shrubs and a small tree or 2 are interplanted; then 3-seasonal interests thruout w/grasses, echnicaeas, etc., -- all needing to be drought tolerant so you dont have to worry about watering in that area. This is probably repeating what our "experts" here have to say, but just a few thoughts from this amateur.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2005 at 9:29AM
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vtskiers(z6a CentralCT)

Where is Marie to remind us to grow Clematis through the shrubs?

One other thought I have to add...when combining your plants, concentrate more on foliage structure, color and form than flowers. For me, it's much easier to do this in shade gardens because you have more bold foliage plants like Hosta, Ligularia, use as a contrast to finer textured stuff like ferns and shade loving grasses. Sun plants tend to be more fine in texture overall which is why I started using tropicals and tender stuff more heavily when I finally got some sun garden space. Without bold foliage the garden has no contrast and looks like a big blob, IMO.

Another good design tip is to plan more late season than early season bloomers. I forget the suggested ratio-two thirds after August 1st to one third before maybe. Plants that bloom late have foliage that looks fresh all season.


    Bookmark   October 20, 2005 at 9:44AM
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I agree with Woody. So much was already here that we would have had to dig up and rearrange a lot to get any particular 'design' (We did make a lot of significant changes) and our spaces are smaller and filled in with 'beneficial' plants rather that those that might be more 'decorative'. If you are beginning with a clean area of earth then you can decide what will be in harmony with your home and space and what will be most durable and add structure to your overall landscaping in all seasons. Good planning now can save a lot of work , energy, and money as your plants mature. When we moved here, some of the pre existing decorative shrubs had been killed by bagworms, so we have avoided replacing those things that are vulnerable to attack. Some plants are alleopathic to others, some are invasive, some self sow , and some 'share' deseases such as apples and cedar from cedar apple rust. We learned a lot from the experienced gardeners of our community but realize there are things we might have avoided or benefited from had we known more about the growth habits of some of the plants. Partner loves the rose of sharon he started from seed but he also knows he better prune off the seed pods to keep them from becoming a forest. Good luck. EP

    Bookmark   October 20, 2005 at 10:16AM
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Marian_2(Z6 ARKozarks)

I notice a lot of your list are sun plants , so you need to reserve a part of the bed for them . My mistake was to have too much shade on all my beds , and no place left for the sun loving plants . Generally a half day of sun is sufficient .
I agree on the placement of trees and shrubs as the 'backbone ' of the bed , unless you do not want to shut off a view .
I think you are going to have a beautiful bed ..have fun ...that is the main thing . I am reaching the 'September' of my life , so am not up to such a major project .

    Bookmark   October 20, 2005 at 10:40AM
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Ok this is a do as I say, not as I do post, lol. I wish I "knew then what I know now" as far as garden design goes in my own garden. How nice that you're able to start with a fresh slate so to speak and I love the fence btw. I agree that it's important to get some bones in place first. Sue's list of shrubs and small trees is a great place to start. I've added quite a few things from that list in the last couple of years since I've been hanging out here on gw. Don't forget the conifers for sure, or the grasses. I love the season round structure they both add to the garden. Also I would plan for some sort of garden ornament or art in the bed too. That could be statuary, birdbath, urns, etc. The longer I garden the more I become interested in foliage and the less in flowers. After all, the foliage is there through the whole gardening season, while the flowers are more fleeting. Add annuals and tropicals throughout for season long color too. I also agree with Sue about putting in more things that come into their own later in the season. Those are the plants that look best throughout the entire summer. After getting in the bones, concentrate on plant groupings and then work along from one group into another. I think if you concentrate on how well plants combine with their neighbors and keep working your way along the bed you'll end up with a nice, cohesive look overall. When you plan a grouping concentrate on plant shapes, leaf shapes, textures and colors, and bloom color and succession. You want things blooming throughout the border in each season. As far as plant heights go, I think it's ok to have some taller see through plants closer to the front too, to mix things up a little. Also don't forget the ground covers. Check out Deanne's borders for ideas on those. I think she's the master in that department and they're such a nice detail. As far as exactly where to place each plant on your list, I think that's something you have to work on and play with yourself that will give your garden it's own flavor and your personal style. Remember if something doesn't work out like you thought it would you can always move it. To me the fun of gardening is that things are always changing and evolving as I learn more or discover a new plant and I never want my garden to be thought of as "finished". As I mature as a gardener I hope my garden is changing to reflect that. I hope sharing these things that I've learned over time helps. Most importantly, have fun creating your design, that's what it's all about. I can't wait to see what you do with it!


    Bookmark   October 20, 2005 at 11:35AM
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Heres a picture of my long full sun border. It sounds like you have a wonderful collection of plants. Your fence is wonderful and I would definately leave it. I agree about putting in the shrubs. I also like to see ground cover or very low plants near the front (something I need to work on) I do have shrubs in the back, but some haven't gotten very tall yet. If it is to viewed from both sides, you may want the tall plants in the middle. I can see several obelisks or large urns for height also. I'm no expert, I'm more of a plopper.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2005 at 11:51AM
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vegangirl(z6 VA)

Thanks to everyone for your thoughts and comments!! I'm not going to even try to answer/comment to everyone individually. I hope that isn't rude; I certainly don't want to be rude! I really appreciate eveyones imput. and i DO need a cheering section! LOL!

Woody, I haven't read Gertrude Jekyll's Colour Schemes for the Flower Garden. It sounds like a good one!. I don't think our library has it...I've read everything plant book they have. ...but I might be able to get it through InterLibrary Loan. I'll call about it today. I love that Iris bed!! I would love to see it in person. .

Sue thank you for the list! I have been thinking the same thing about shrubs and perennials. I do have a couple of shrubs in the bed..see comments below.

Michelle, I can't see your photo:-( Whaa!!!

Thanks for the suggestions and offers to look at albums and galleries. i will definitatly do that:-) Thanks for the good comments about the fence too.

Now some general thoughts and comments considering everybody's advice and ideas......Sounds like the concensus is to put in some shrubs. I like that idea. Lower maintenance is garden staff here:-)I had thought about shrubs for other areas but not for that area although I don't know why I hadn't! It's a good spot; none of the shrubs would shade any of the veggie gardens or fruit. I definitely do want to showcase some of our daylilies in that bed.
Ok, the shrubs I have now to work with are a decidious azalea, a dwarf lilac, a Rhiengold arborvitae, two potentillas (both yellow), a Weigela 'white Knight', the three spireas. I think that's all that is in the nursery beds. Oh I have a rose 'Angel Wings'. I don't know if any of these would be suitable and if not, please don't hesitate to tell me so:-)In the first section (most northern)I have a Buddleia Lochinch',(wisteria blue with orange eye, 4 ft, silver foliage) and a clump of red hot pokers (seed grown) so that bed could be my *hot* bed or would the light blue of the buddleia not work for hot ? There are other plants in the bed but those are two that I wouldn't want to move. So if I did make that a hot bed, and thinking in terms of season, I could add from my list daffodils for early spring, then maybe the yellow and purple iris? a daylily or two-orange and/or yellow? helenium, veronica, yellow mum and purple aster? What else? Would the pale blue Phlox subulata do for edging for spring? What color for summer edging?

Re daffodils..somebody said they planted theirs toward the center of the bed so the foliage would be hidden. I can't decide if I should plant taller plants toward the back (the driveway side) or in the middle since the bed is seen from both sides and actually the driveway side should be the front but I've got the fence there:-( The more I think, the more confused I get! I call the curvy side the front because our old mobile home is there and that area used to be our front yard. When the mobile home is moved, the driveway will circle (actually it will be more of a U shape) around and meet the beginning. Where the car is parked is where the circle sort of begins, the house is farther to the right past the car. I have thought about a seating area there in the center between the driveway sections. And there would be room for some small trees and some shrubs. Several on Sue's list have been on my wish list for some time.

In section 2, there is a Viburnum carlesii nana, more red hot pokers and other things. Should I remove the pokers from this and the 3rd sections? I am thinking section 4 (the one I have to re-do this fall) could be a pastel section because of the peonies that I really don't want to move and also the white O. poppy. How would I do the colors to transition from hot bed 1 to pastel bed 4? Would any of my shrubs work in bed 4? I'll have to check with DH on shrubs because he doesn't want the veiw of the driveway entrance obscured with anything. I would need to have him help me measure the maximum height I could have and still see the entrance. I have a bunch of shade plants too but didn't list them since the area is full sun. but if I add shrubs I need to consider that too.

I think many of my plants are short, Cindy. I hadn't really noticed that until you pointed it out:-)

Style?? I know I don't care for formal as in clipped boxwoods and knot gardens. I don't care for the full blousey cottage garden effect. Beyond that, I don't know what style I like:-)

OK, I'll look at EP's and other photo albums during supper tonight! I'll be back with more questions, I'm sure:-) there is a lot of information here I need to absorb:-)

    Bookmark   October 20, 2005 at 1:49PM
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VG, just for you I've added a link so you can see the long border. Your the one that has Photobucket blocked? I made it a link since the picture is on the thread already.


    Bookmark   October 20, 2005 at 4:22PM
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chloehoover(z6b VA)

Sue zeroed in on a problem that continues to plague me in sunny borders -- the problem w/ contrasting foliage - finding the larger leaved, bolder types to contrast the more normal "fine" types -- esp. in my gardens where I have such small beds it is a real problem - I really can't put in a gunnera without it taking over my entire yard. [Question - What's the Hosta of the Sun plant?] But here, VG, you do have some opportunity to use the larger, bolder ones that will do just fine within the overall scheme.
And Eden's discussion about edging is probably important for you - it would offer a lot of continuity to draw the eyes and cars up the drive -- I think it's Sydney Eddison who said find the perfect edging to repeat throughout and it brings the entire garden together. Im still struggling w/ that as well. (She loves lamb's ear by the way in most of her beds - but I find it "mugs" out on me in the high humidity of the Virginia suns and summers).
You're getting great ideas!

    Bookmark   October 20, 2005 at 5:28PM
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gardenbug(Canada zone 5)

I have not had time to study the postings yet, but here are some initial thoughts. I hope I am not contradicting others more wise.

I love the split rails on a larger property.

My ideas have changed over time, so perhaps my thoughts are not popular ones. In any case, I'll blunder on.

First I would consider your soil and the amount of sun and water. Perhaps soaker hoses are what you will need before planting, perhaps not, depending on your style. I feel it is wise to consider low watering needs. I would try to work with the soil that is there. Changing soil dramatically is an ongoing battle. For example, changing the acidity to accomodate azaleas and blueberries is loads of work, often unsuccessful.

I also think that your priorities and vision are what is important. Is it perennials? shrubs and trees? clematis covered fencing? Easily maintained beauty? All season interest?

When I began new areas my tool was the hose for outlining the space. That was because I wanted curved areas. You may want more formal or geometric areas.

I think as I get older (now 63) I favor shrubs,trees and foliage and lower maintenance plants for cold zones. Less pushing of zone limits for me. I do like burgundy coloured trees, shrubs and other plants mixed with blue/gray hues. Only in shady areas do I experiment with the bright gold colours that are now popular. I am happy with old tried and true plants as well as ornamental grasses that are not spreaders.

And so I would collect photos from magazines and library books and get a collection going over the winter of gardens you admire. You will begin to see a trend I think. Do you like rocks blended into your spaces, do you want paths and lawn, sun or shade, raised beds, garden ornaments, etc Certain plants will crop up in those favourite gardens and repeat themselves. Those are the ones to pay attention to. Your list already has many beauties to keep if you choose to!

And so, keeping to the driveway theme, here is mine. Ten trees and lawn. One and 1/2 hours of mowing every 3 weeks. Simplicity itself! (Told you it wasn't for everyone!)

I think you are going to love your winter project! Have a ball and don't be anxious about it. The process is the fun part!

    Bookmark   October 20, 2005 at 9:34PM
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vegangirl(z6 VA)

Michelle, I appreciate the link but it didn't work for me. i don't know how to unblock photobucket. I don't exactly know how I blocked. i know where I clicked but not how I made it happen to photobucket:-( I wish I could see your border!!

Cindy, I don't have any really bold leaved sun plants, I don't think. I've been trying to think of some and I can't even come up with any! I've been re-reading everyone's posts and trying to get a sense of what I need to do. i know I have gotten excellent advice. If I can just put it together. i have seen some lovely photos this evening, and want to look at more.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2005 at 10:18PM
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vegangirl(z6 VA)

Gardenbug, thanks for your thoughts and ideas. the previous posters are also recommending shrubs to reduce maintenance. You have a lovely tree lined driveway:-) I talked to DH about the maximum height of shrubs i can have. I had mentioned that he didn't want the entranace of the driveway blocked. He says up to 4 feet tall will be fine.

Yes, I think the first 3 sections of the bed will make a good winter project. The problem is section 4 must be done right now while DH is in the mood to level the area and cover the top of the septic tank. that's why I have to take all the plants out and wanted to "make it pretty" and not just cram them back in to get them in the ground. If I could get section 4 done, then i could relax and play with the rest of it but as someone mentioned I need a sense of what i want the whole bed to look like before I launch into section 4.

I have a headache from looking at so mnay pictures! My mind is boggled I'm trying to put together all the great advice and do something with it. I think I need someone to say "Plant this here and plant that over there" but I know in my heart, that I have to decide those things! All sugestions are welcome:-)

    Bookmark   October 20, 2005 at 10:29PM
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gardenbug(Canada zone 5)

VG, even after you have planted your bed, things will move many times after that! Enjoy the process. I can't emphasize that enough. Don't let it make you nervous or edgy. Rome wasn't built in a day. Your garden will not be either. It is exciting stuff, but don't get headaches over it!

First you might think about Eden's comments on edging. A clean edge around even a cluster of one kind of plant makes all the difference. Get out that hose and make an edge. Or decide that the split rails are your spot of interest and plant beside them.

Shrubs tend to be taller than 4 feet, although people can give you names of the smaller forms, say of fothergilla, deutzia, etc. Personally, I like the look of a row of one kind of shrub. I think the most beautiful I've ever seen was a long hedge of oakleaf hydrangeas. Although viburnums come in many forms and are fabulous plants, there is a disease which attacks them in our area and this can be a heartbreaker. You can read a bit about it in this month's Fine Gardening Magazine.(or is it in Hortulture magazine? Check the library.)

So, you have 4 sections? Why not one for each season? Just an idea. Now is bulb planting time. Maybe section 4 could be bulbs which could be covered by perennial and shrub foliage as the seasons progress. I bet you could grow callicarpa (like Babs does) in Va! Today I planted 200 bulbs of different types: camassia, spring green tulips, anemone blandas in blue, erythroniums, etc...I love restricting the colours to only 2-3. Geraniums take over after the bulbs are finished.

Another effective scene is to plant a giant row of lavender if you have a dryish sunny spot. These can get quite tall depending on the variety. You can always add companions later.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2005 at 11:14PM
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This durable shrub is used extensivly in landscaping in our area. We frequently see it mixed with day lilies. We have one near the garden bench on the west terrace. I try to keep it deadheaded for a longer bloom period. We have box in our door yard which is evergreen and requires little attention and has never exceeded 4 feet. We also have a blue angel holly that is under 4 feet. There are many other choices. Perhaps a few taller shrubs for accent would add interest. We are partial to hollies and nandina for evergreen shrubs and both are beautiful but would be larger than your preference. All of the plants you have listed sound beautiful for a mixed perennial border. Our iberis sempervirons is green year round and blooms in spring. One of the prettiest driveway gardens we have seen in our area is a solid border of red salvia. I don't know which one but it gets thicker and more beautiful every year and has been growing for years. Sometimes a solid mass of one plant can be very eye catching. EP

    Bookmark   October 21, 2005 at 3:21AM
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This is the spirea in May. This is the same area shown in Cynthia's birthday photo with luecantha blooming in September. The crinum lily is to the left and the tall white flowe is penstemon. EP

    Bookmark   October 21, 2005 at 3:38AM
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Woody_Canada(~USz5 - Canada)

me again....:-) I'm slow but things eventually sink in....

Where does the drainage field for the septic tank run relative to the driveway planting area? i.e. will your planting be limited by the need to avoid damage to the drainage field? If you are planting directly over the tank, I'd assume you'd want to think about things like using shallower rooted plants, the potential for disruption to the garden if the tank needed to be dug up for servicing, etc.

The septic issues may affect all your planning. Looking at GB's picture brings the issue of scale to mind. GB's allee of trees is so beautifully effective because the scale suits the big field. A row of small shrubs and perennials would't be nearly as effective. Your driveway area looks large and in a relatively open area so scale may be an issue for you as well but, depending on the septic field, you may have those limitations to consider too. The link below takes you to an article that may be useful in case you're not familiar with the issues around septic leach fields.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2005 at 7:22AM
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vegangirl(z6 VA)

One thing I forgot to budget for this bed 4 is 0! So whatever I plant in there this Fall has to come from my list of available plants.

GB, thank you for emphasizing that i should relax and enjoy this! When I read your post this morning, I realized that I don't have to *complete* bed 4 this Fall:-) I just have to move things out and put back in the keepers. I can leave some empty space until next spring. Then I had another realization that what ever I do, I have to do it this week because my cousin will start cutting Christmas trees in a couple of weeks and I am his tree counter! I do want a defined edge. Your bulbs are going to be gorgeous. I like the idea of geraniums with bulbs!

EP thank your for the link and the lovely photo! I have a Spirea bumaldi 'Gold Flame' which I think is similar. i could put it in the bed. The gold foliage would probably look good with the yellow daffodils, wouldn't it? I like that web site you linked to because it gives suggested plants to combine with. Are there more plants and suggestions on the site? Thanks too for the short shrub suggestions. I would like to get some evergreens eventually. In fact, I did have three dwarf hollies in the nursery bed but the rabbits ate them:-(
I do have several iberis so could use those. That block edging with plants is a neat idea. Is that some type of sedum?

Woody, If you look at the last picture, the septic tank is about 10 feet to the right of the yellow shovel on the right of the picture. You can barely see a little white spot...that is the cap to open and pump out the tank. The distribution box is up at the edge of the driveway and all the field lines go southeast away from the flower bed. There is some soil over the tank but not enough for grass to grow and DH wants jto add about 10 inches to it. You can't really tell in the photos but bed 4 is actually sunken on the end toward the metal arches. It's several inches below the level of the current soil over the tank. Thank you for the link.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2005 at 9:26AM
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Woody_Canada(~USz5 - Canada)

VG - OK, I can see that, including the sunken area.... It sounds like it is only that one area that would be affected re limiting what you plant. Adding soil to the sunken area certain would be necessary for a garden there. My first thought would be that maybe that area would be a good area for annuals - perhaps tropical annuals with big, colorful foliage. If this area is at the top near the house, presumably it would be easier to provide supplemental water there. Since many of the tropical annuals seem to have 'hot' colored flowers, that could be the 'hot' area. The daylilies usually have warm colored flowers so maybe they could go next once you've moved off the septic tank and into more 'permanent' ground. Daffodils are a good companion - they will flower before the daylily foliage is very high and, once the daffodils are finished, the daylily foliage does a great job of hiding the dying daffodil foliage.

A lot of the other warm colored things like the lilies, gailardia, helenium and mums would be nice in the same area with some blue flowering things to cool them down and maybe some shrubs with purple foliage. You really should find the Jekyll book to help with figuring out transitions to the cooler colors. That's something I still find difficult - since my gardens are a lot smaller than yours, I take the simple route and basically don't have the two in the same bed but, with all your space and your collection of plants, you'll be needing to go through the color transitions.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2005 at 10:02AM
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VG yes that is sedum growing in the blocks but it was given to us and I have no ID. It is now covering the blocks and is very pretty. Looking forward to viewing your progress. I am learning from this input too! EP

    Bookmark   October 21, 2005 at 12:28PM
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vegangirl(z6 VA)

Woody, thanks for the specific ideas!! I really need that:-) i think I'll look on amazon for a used copy of that book. it would be nice to have my own copy. The library doesn't have it and will check the others they can get loans from. I had first thought about making bed 4 a pastel bed because of the peonies but I could leave the white one and move the two pink ones. The white one is the biggest one, and the two others are really too close to it and each other. I jsut stuck them in there until I "got a place fixed" and that was 26 years ago!!

EP, thanks! I'll bet it is pretty. I am really hoping there will be progress to view! See my post on Idyll 230:-(

I'd better get back to work. this cold weather is coming in and I'm not ready.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2005 at 2:06PM
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vegangirl(z6 VA)

So far, this is what I've decided:-) I have bearded iris that is either burgundy or maroon. I don't remember exactly but I do remember that it is the very same color as the foliage on my purple leaf plum tree. I enjoyed seeing the iris bloom and then the plum tree on beyond it. So I would like to have the iris in the bed. What colors go with that color? I was thinking peach but don't think I have anything peach that would bloom when the iris does. Lots of peach and apricot daylilies for later in the season. But I could save space for a peach something and add it later. I also want to keep the white peony but think I will move the two pinks to another part of the bed or another bed. I also have a lavender thalictrum I want to keep there. Will lavender go with peach and burgundy/maroon? OK, sorry to just ramble; I will distill this down:-)

What color goes with burgundy or maroon? Peach?
What goes with lavender (color)?
What are some good peach colored flowers that bloom with iris?

Someone mentioned growing clematis in shrubs. How big do the shrubs have to be? Could I grow one in a 4 ft shrub? I have a Duchess of Edinburgh in the nursery bed.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2005 at 2:39PM
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gardenbug(Canada zone 5)

Lots of things look fabu fabu with burgundy, so don't fret about this. I happen to like blue with burgundy, but peach would be great as well! Finding things that bloom at the same time is tricky. Maybe you could find more iris later on that bloom at the same time? I have enjoyed Apricot Beauty tulips but they are of course earlier than your iris. I'm sure you could find some hemerocallis that would combine nicely too.

I would try to match the maroon blooms with foliage instead of with other blooms. Every year things bloom at different times for me. I put blue flowering things beneath my dark foliaged shrubs and enjoy the look. (anemone blanda, then annual sweet woodruff to follow. Lamb's ears for when there are no blooms makes a nice contrast too.) I also put bright chartreuse sedum Angelina with dark heucheras. If you like peach, you could grow some of the newer peach colored heucheras and have that colour throughout the season. (Marmalade and Peach Flambe are some of the names.)

In terms of thalictrum, it is so lacy and light that it looks great with anything. I have some near pink peonies and a clematis Betty Corning. I have more in a shady area with hostas, ferns, astilbes, etc.

Clematis can grow well in shrubs. I grow them a bit apart (2-3 feet) and eventually use a cane to lead the clematis into the shrub. You need to select an appropriate clematis for the size of the shrub. Arabella is a wonderful smaller non-climbing blue clematis which is well suited to this. You don't want a huge shrub for this one. Also, you don't want to plant a clematis in a shrub that needs frequent pruning unless you are growing a pruning group 3 clematis, the type that are pruned every year in late winter. (March-April for me.)Roses and clematis are a frequent combination and they like the same conditions and fertilizer. Arabella looks super with everything, growing through other plants or guided up a trellis.

As to colour, you might want to select a few more burgundy flowers and more foliage to carry your theme on through the seasons. Certainly heucheras, allium, tulips, fritllarias, lilies, columbines, iris, peonies, knautia, clematis, ninebark, sambucus and purple sand cherries all come in shades of burgundy/maroon.

Peach blooms are everywhere too: lilies, verbascum, tulips, pansies, agastache, roses, gladiolas, dahlias and more. One idea is to wait until you see your iris in bloom and THEN go to a good nursery to find something in bloom to match it. But I think confidence is your big issue! It'll be so much fun to make and pretty no matter what you combine.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2005 at 4:36PM
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gardenbug(Canada zone 5)

I forgot about your list! You have heuchera and gaillardia and sedums. So you have many burgundy items to choose from.

Also lots of lavender things to pick up the colour of your thalictrum.

Your pale yellow coryopsis is a nice accent no matter what the colour scheme!

Stick to using what you have for now. There is always tweaking to be done later!

    Bookmark   October 24, 2005 at 5:37PM
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vegangirl(z6 VA)

Gardenbug, thanks so much for the color tips and the clematis-in-shrub tips too! LOL! I think confidence is my big issue too! When I read everybody's suggestions I think, "OK That sounds good and I can do that!" but when I actually sit down and try to transfer the info to my own flower bed, I just get bogged down. I'll look for those new heucheras you mentioned. I'll have to look up my clematis and see what pruning group it is in.

It's 39 degrees with rain and wind so I won't be gardening today. Would you believe we're supposed to get 3 inches of snow tonight!! Wed and Thur are supposed to be partly cloudy and in the 50's so that sounds pretty good for digging up bulbs, etc.

I've also decided to cover the bed with 10 layers of newspapers, cut holes to plant, and then mulch.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2005 at 8:34AM
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gardenbug(Canada zone 5)

Here you go, check this out!

The Duchess can get quite tall and is a pruning group 2 (minimal pruning) Being white, it would look nice with a dark foliaged shrub or on an arbor or obelisk with a companion of another colour.

You might also enjoy this site which pictures Heuchera Peach Flambe as well as other plants.

Nevertheless, I say stick to what you have for the time being. Next year you can think of additions once you have pondered things over the winter months.

It is 24F here so far today...

    Bookmark   October 25, 2005 at 8:58AM
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vegangirl(z6 VA)

Thank you for the links!! I enjoyed looking at the pictures and reading the info. I love that Heuchera!! My clematis had one bloom on it this summer. I hope I can move it without killing it. When is the best time to move it? I copied the info to a file I've started with advice from Idyllers on this bed.

Yes, I have to stick with what I have this year. No budget for more:-) I'm starting to feel excitement rather than dread about the bed re-do.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2005 at 6:33PM
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gardenbug(Canada zone 5)

I would suggest moving a clematis while it is dormant...which means as soon as you can get it out of the unfrozen ground in late winter. The buds already are forming in March and April most years. Get as big a rootball as possible.

Make sure you read this:

    Bookmark   October 25, 2005 at 8:00PM
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Lisa_H OK(7)

Are you open to growing things from seed? I have a lot of seed that I would be happy to share with you. I grow almost everything via Winter Sowing (see forum), but most of them will do well with direct sow.

Here's a list of what I have for sure, I think I have more if you are interested:

Aquilegia, Columbine, mixed colors (annual)
Belamcanda, blackberry lilies, orange (perennial)
Cynoglossum, Chinese Forget-me-nots, pink and blue mix (annual)
Echinacea (purple coneflower, perennial)
Gloriosa Daisy (rudbeckia, bi-colors, short-lived perennial)
Larkspur (mostly purples, annual)
Lychnis coronaria, (Rose Campion), pink (biennial)
Lychnis coronaria, white/blush (biennial)
Poppy, somniferum, mixed colors (annual)
Poppy, shirley, mixed colors (annual)
Verbascum chiaxii (white, tall, biennial)
Salvia, May Night (perennial)


    Bookmark   October 26, 2005 at 4:04PM
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vegangirl(z6 VA)

GB, thank you. I'll list that in my monthly lists of things to do for March. Thanks for the link. I'll check that out.

Lisa, I am definitly open to growing things from seed! I have had good success in the past and that's where I've gotten many of my perennials. But the last 2 or 3 years I haven't been too successful. I'm not sure why unless it was because we were busy with building the house and I just neglected my seeds & seedlings:-( I tried Winter Sowing and that was a failure for me. I would certainly be interested in some seeds and would be happy to reimburse your postage. Or were you thinking of a trade?

    Bookmark   October 26, 2005 at 4:35PM
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vegangirl(z6 VA)

Update: Yesterday I planted the rest of the perennials in section 4 except for the daylilies. I will decide which ones this winter and move them in spring. Today, I hope to plant the daffodils in the bed and the leftovers somewhere along the creek or in the woods. Then I will mulch and call it done for the winter. I won't be posting any pictures until spring since there is really nothng to see right now:-) I appreciate everyone's advice and help. We'll have to wait and see how it turns out. I agonized over it for days and finally decided to just DO IT whether it was wrong or right, so I did!

    Bookmark   November 2, 2005 at 8:06AM
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Lisa_H OK(7)

VG: Your seeds made it in the mail today, you should be getting them in a couple of days. I'm sorry about the delay...there were postage meter issues here :)


    Bookmark   November 2, 2005 at 5:04PM
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vegangirl(z6 VA)

Lisa, thank you so much!!! i will be looking forward to getting them. Maybe I can send you a daylily in the spring?

    Bookmark   November 2, 2005 at 6:35PM
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Lisa_H OK(7)

Sure, I love daylilies :)


    Bookmark   November 3, 2005 at 2:17PM
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gardenbug(Canada zone 5)

VG, any update photos? I'm so curious....

    Bookmark   November 3, 2005 at 6:41PM
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vegangirl(z6 VA)

Well, as I mentioned, there isn't much to see but I will take a picture from DD's bedroom window so you can compare it to the 'before' picture. I wish I had time to re-do the other 3 sections before bad weather but I'll have to wait until spring. Section 4 was by far the worst of the four so I'm glad to have it done. If I don't like how it looks I can change it next year:-) That's a new thought for me, I resist change:-)

    Bookmark   November 3, 2005 at 8:30PM
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gardenbug(Canada zone 5)

Oh YES, you can always change things. And I do! But it really takes about 3 years to see if new plantings are effective I think.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2005 at 8:43PM
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