help choosing shrubs

tulips101(5a sterling il.)March 11, 2013

Im removing 5 evergreens and want to replace them with either little lime or little lamb but i was wondering if there are better choises for this location.The bed faces north and a fair amount of shade in zone 5.
Im having trouble seeing the end results because i dont know what perennials would look nice between or in front of the hydrangeas.I forgot to say my house is white
I sure could use some help if possible thank you.

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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

you havent gotten any answers..

and i wonder if it is.. because you are confusing us..

hydrangea is a perennial.. it is NOT a shrub ...

so either you are using the term loosely [which is fine] .. or you left something out .. what shrubs???

regardless.. for me.. a picture sure helps me.. 'see' the situation.. to make suggestions ...


    Bookmark   March 12, 2013 at 1:07PM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

Ken - here I go again. Hydrangeas are shrubs.They form a permanent woody framework. The fact that they die to the ground in some climates doesn't change their true nature.

Otherwise I agree - we need a picture. What were the evergreens? Conifers? Broadleaves? How big were they? How big is the space? What is the soil like? (probably depleted if it was growing conifers.)

    Bookmark   March 12, 2013 at 3:18PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

here i go again..

NOT IN MY ZONE 5 .. they die to the ground.. like most other perennials ...

noting in particular.. she doesnt name her version ... nor her zone.. so we are both making presumptions about what type she is talking about ...


ps: read the latest lindsey davis.. she used that word 5 times...

    Bookmark   March 12, 2013 at 6:32PM
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mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

Ken, sometimes you really need to get out of your box.

Little Lamb is a reasonably well known H. paniculata. It isn't a wimp plant at all (at least the species isn't).

A bigger issue is that, IMHO, they look waaay ugly during the winter.

I'd say that usually the best approach in these situations is to first, properly identify the current evergreens as Yews. Then cut them back hard, so they are no longer overgrown, and plan a colorful, seasonal display in front of them. Replacing them with deciduous shrubs in a winter climate is usually pretty unsatisfactory because of the waaay ugly in winter part. Replacing them with another evergreen isn't satisfactory because few things can handle the location (shade + zone 5 + not acidic soil = yews) I am assuming the soil isn't acidic, but hardy broadleaf evergreens are fairly picky plants, and can't just be plopped anywhere.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2013 at 7:45AM
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tulips101(5a sterling il.)

The evergreens are the type that there is very little grreen growth ist mostly dead wood and they havw been dying for a while. Im going to have them taken out and put in quickfires on the ends and a dwarf hydrangea or some incrediball by the porch it is a small area.On the west side i have 15 foot and on the east side i have 9 footand the beds are 9 feet out from the house i have hostas in front of the evergeens i want to keep them.
Im sorry for the confussion im just not a skilled gardener but im trying thank you.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2013 at 9:27AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL

Knowing a bit more about your location than just Z5 might help here, then a pic of the spot would definitely help. For example, I lived in Z5 for decades near Columbus OH but never had a Hydrangea not stay alive above the ground, as mentioned by a Z5'er in MI.

The universities in a state usually have gardening info on the internet that is reliable for local use.

To confirm the ID of the ratty evergreens if interested, you can put a pic of them on "name that plant" forum.

As far as flowers/colors go, you've got white with the house, and both Hydrangeas you mentioned have white flowers. Then the green leaves. If that's it so far, any color flowers you like would look great, although more white would probably be really boring to some, tastefully sedate to others. In the shade like that, darker flowers don't show up as well, but variegated, non-green, and contrasting foliage usually does, as well as flowers with a stripe or other variation in their coloring, and lighter colored flowers like yellow, electric blue, light pink, peach. Are you looking for annuals or perennials?

It's a tough decision, with evergreens that far north, about all you usually get IS green, but, as said, do you want that, or to look at naked/dead sticks - or nothing at all - all winter in trade for those pretty long-lasting Hydrangea flowers in the summer? Whatever answer makes you happy is the right one for your house.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2013 at 3:56PM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

Ken - I said "The fact that they die to the ground in some climates doesn't change their true nature." If they are shrubs they are shrubs. Your climate maybe knocks them down but they're still shrubs. I can't grow a mango outdoors. But that doesn't stop it being a tree. And I'm not being t----y, just accurate ;-)

    Bookmark   March 13, 2013 at 4:08PM
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funnthsun z7A - Southern VA

My apologies for the direction of your thread. You know, there really are helpful people on this forum that won't analyze your every word for accuracy, will be forgiving for new gardener learning curves and won't hijack your thread to continue an argument that started way before you ever registered. I promise, those nice people are here and some have actually replied to you already.

They always want a pic, but who wants to take a pic of a cruddy area that we are asking for improvement help on? We only want to take pics of the beautiful ones that we don't need help on, right? :)

I am doing something similar on the side of my house, which gets morning sun only. I am putting a row of limelight hydrangeas and a buttermint camellia (similar flower color, comes out greenish and turns to white) on the end. Maybe you should consider a camellia as well in the mix?

Welcome to the forum, welcome to gardening and I hope someone will be able to help you with your decisions!

    Bookmark   March 13, 2013 at 8:43PM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

funnthsun - you have completely misunderstood the banter between me and Ken. You confuse discussion with argument. I assure you he is well able to look after himself . On these forums threads often develop into conversations between members and these are often the most entertaining. There are no rules against it and it is no slight upon the OP or any other contributor.

When you discuss gardening it is important to use the vocabulary accurately. People come to these forums to learn and misusing the nomenclature is a disservice to newbies and others who wish to increase their knowledge.

As for asking for a picture, that is in order to offer suggestions based on some facts, rather than guesswork. Again, wanting more detail is not being awkward. All the questions I asked were based on experience and asked in good faith to help the OP further. Would you ask a landscaper to plan your yard without seeing it or having sufficient information about it?

    Bookmark   March 14, 2013 at 2:23PM
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funnthsun z7A - Southern VA

Thanks for the clarification, as all of that escaped me earlier and I would never have known it were it not clarified for me. I definitely wasn't "looking after" Ken, funny that you interpreted what I said as slanted towards him. I'm sure he's flattered, as that is the direct opposite of every other post between us. It's easy to misunderstand or read animosity into posts with no inflection in tone in them, isn't it? I'll bet a new person posting might do the same thing, huh, with any of these posts?

It would be a whole lot easier if there was a way that we could communicate with each other and still sound cordial, wouldn't it? Can't think of a single way, though...

Happy Gardening to all!

    Bookmark   March 14, 2013 at 2:39PM
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NHBabs z4b-5a NH

I have several hydrangeas and though I love them, I agree with Mad Gallica that they are a bit homely in the winter, just a bunch of dead sticks. I do leave the blossoms on them to dry, and that adds some late fall and winter interest, but you might want to consider some type of evergreen that will tolerate the lower light levels better than what you have now. My hydrangeas are all in mixed beds that have some evergreens, a shrub with colored twigs or an iron trellis or something to add interest in the 7 months of the year that the hydrangeas are bare, especially those months without snow.

I grow H. paniculata Pink Diamond, Pinky Winky, and Quickfire, H. macrophylla Endless Summer and All Summer Beauty, and H. arborescens Annabelle. Annabelle suckers some and flops if not grown between shrubs to prop her up, but all the rest are pretty easy and reliable. Incrediball is supposed to have stronger stems, but I have read reports that it still flops. The paniculatas don't die down to the ground and are a sturdy bush for me here on the northern edge of zone 5, but the macrophyllas and arborescens die back to the snow line almost every year.

If I were you I'd grow Little Lime instead of Little Lamb (both are H. paniulatas) for the more interesting color, and then perhaps a couple of short evergreens. (I am assuming that you want them short to stay below windows.) I live in New England and have acid soil, so I grow some shorter rhododendrons (Checkmate with deep mahogany foliage in winter and Yaku Prince with olive green foliage) and a Leucathoe. They all need acid organic soil. A coniferous evergreen that will stay low and likes shade is Microbiota decussata, Siberian cypress.

As Purpleinop said above, you can pretty much choose any color scheme for your perennials to go with the green and white of the hydrangeas. There are currently several threads on shade plants on the perennials forum you can check out. I linked one below. Remember that the farther out you are from the house, the more light indirect and direct the plants may get.

If you have a photo, as others have said, it may help with suggestions. Just click on the choose file near the top of the follow-up section to upload it, and if you revise your preview, you have to reselect your photo.

Here is a link that might be useful: shade perennials

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 3:00PM
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Since you are considering hydrangeas, I'll throw in my endorsement for oak-leaf hydrangeas IF you can easily water the first year to establish and later on to keep them from wilting.
I have 'Pee Wee' in a row along a small section of foundation and they look great in winter (if you're into peely bark and big, brown, dried flowerheads like I am).
They have huge leaves that turn a brownish red in fall, looks very nice with thread-leafed amsonia, which is a slow-growing, cloud-like perennial that turns a goldish-orange color in fall that pretty much disappears after a few hard frosts.
Lots of things can be planted in front of these two plants that would add texture and color for whatever season you most enjoy.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 5:01PM
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