Need something tough in full shade

splitrockAugust 13, 2014

If you see the shovel in the picture, this is where I would like a narrow, vertical, upright evergreen. The area is narrow, with the shovel about 3 feet from the foundation. It is sloped away from the foundation. The soil is compacted subsoil mildly acidic clay. It gets no sun as it is against a north wall and blocked by trees to the west. It is also in an area where snow sometimes slides off the metal roof.
I know I will need something tough. The rest of the area will be ferns and other tough herbaceous perennials, so I really would like something upright. This is the area I see from the kitchen window! We are in the NC mountains. Rather wet winters.

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hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

how tall do you want it to be at maturity?

    Bookmark   August 13, 2014 at 3:53PM
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Ideal height would be about 6 to 8 feet, preferably without heavy pruning. Thanks for responding.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2014 at 4:01PM
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Mike Larkin

Go to a local garden center and ask if they have a narrow yew. They will tolerate lots of shade.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2014 at 9:54PM
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I don't know how much snow you get or the height you have from the edge of the roof to the ground, but the snow sliding off the metal roof would be a dealbreaker for growing a narrow evergreen shrub around here. Icy or heavy wet snow landing and falling on a shrub breaks branches or bends them outward unless the shrub is wrapped. Since I think that wrapped shrubs are unattractive, I grow things that can be cut to the ground under the eaves where the snow lands, either shrubs like Hydrangea arborescens or Spiraea that will regrow quickly from a hard cut back, or herbaceous plants that die back to the ground. That way if the snow/ice land heavily, the plants won't be damaged longterm. I can't honestly think of any narrow shrub or vine that fits all of your conditions: the snow slide zone, the full shade, and the narrow height.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2014 at 11:38PM
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I see the wisdom of your advise, nhbabs, The snow is not usually very heavy, but some years it can be. I was hoping to screen of the gas line port from my view as I work at the sink. It is a difficult area and I don't expect to get everything I wish for. A summertime view will be fine.
Plantsman, thanks for the yew suggestion. I have never tried a yew, but now that our deer fence is complete, yews are a possibility. I have read several posts here where people were wanting to remove them from foundations because they were overgrown, and I was concerned about the pruning that could be needed down the road.
A plant I had considered is an intermediate sized dwarf hemlock. Not sure how it would like sliding snow and I know it would like some more light.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 8:09AM
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I hope this picture is better. The mess of rocks is where we are building a combination water runoff and gravel path. Anymore landscape ideas?

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 8:18AM
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Stovepipe Yew, Hicks Yew, Irish Yew, or any narrow upright Yew. It it gets too tall, just shear it.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 3:13PM
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Thanks for a confirmation on the yew idea. I saw a nice looking one in the latest Plant Delights catalog. I have also realized that I can move the target planting area (hole) a bit to the left and avoid the snow slide zone because of a dormer above it.
I have several Mountain Fire Pieris that I am looking for a good home for. The clay subsoil does not naturally drain well, and pieris needs that, but I may give the area the royal treatment, and try one there. For us the royal treatment includes a full bag of Perma Til, lots of homemade compost, and composted pine bark. If I can give it well drained soil, the Pieris might be able to deal with less light than it would prefer.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2014 at 5:38PM
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arbo_retum(z5 ,WinchstrMA)

split, I have some thoughts but need to ask- can you post more 'macro' photos, that show from ground to roof line? and photos of the area to the right of the Path-to-be?
whenever I am designing, I need to see both the larger views and the closer-up views. Do you have good shrub nurseries near you?

Here is a link that might be useful: Cotton-Arbo retum ; free; open 24/7 to the public

    Bookmark   August 24, 2014 at 6:31PM
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Thanks Arbo retum. I quite enjoyed the great pictures of your lush and lovely garden. You are kind to offer your ideas.
The place I am planning for is at our mountain house, and we are going up there this weekend, so I will try to get some better pictures.
I have pretty much decided to try the pieris, as I have one ready to be transplanted and I know I can easily keep it to a manageable size with light shaping. If my DH can improve the soil in the area, I would light to add a mass planting of brunnera Kings Randsom at the base of the pieris.
I really like your closely planted style, but for my own space, I need things a bit more open. I am seriously afraid of snakes. I know they are out there in almost every garden, but I need the see open ground and be able to step between plants as I weed, water, and prune and know that nothing is going the slither under my feet.
Also, I am in my sixties and have arthritis in my back, so I need to avoid major pruning issues and plants that need frequent division and are heavy. I want to live at my mountain house twenty years from now and not have overgrown vegetation that I can not handle myself on a good day. Carefully planning will be needed to achieve that, so I am thinking things through a good bit.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2014 at 4:39PM
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arbo_retum(z5 ,WinchstrMA)

I think you are being very smart about this and your pieris/brunnera combo sounds great. (btw, I'm your age as well, and in 20 yrs will prob be laughing (ruefully) about this conversation, wishing I had followed your lead!) And the snakes thing I can understand.

hey, I just had an idea! I wonder if you could take advantage of the full shade, and create a strip of BOG garden?! Think of the rodgersia and ligulatias and umbrella plants could grow! The pieris and brunnera could be outside of the boggy area (where you dig a long trough shape and line the bottom w/ heavy butyl(sp) etc etc)

    Bookmark   August 27, 2014 at 10:25PM
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