Perennial suggests for large areas

MelekmiApril 8, 2013

Hopefully this forum will be of much use for my situation.
I moved in last September and all shrubs had to be removed.
I do not miss the shrubs, I can tolerate small shrubs and hydrangeas.
I am a beginner brown thumb. I like purples, blues, pinks, yellow, white and for the side of the house with the ac unit oranges. I am looking for 3 to 4 varieties as I do not want to get in over my head.
So far I have echinacea and lavender seeds. I really love lavender and the look that it brings. I like the informal but yet sophisticated look, cottage style, but a little more tamed. Kinda all over the place, I know. Recently we've overturned the soil and edged around the house. So it looks a little more cleaned.
So, what do you all recommend?

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auron22(6b OH)

Somewhat carefree plants that self seed and can offer the cottage look;
You could try rosa rugosa, it can grow about 7' tall and 5' wide and needs little to no care, if you do not want it that tall it can handle heavy pruning.. Heavy scent and blooms on and off. If you honestly think you have a brown thumb i highly suggest hemerocallis (daylilies) rebloomers. They come in several colors, multiply fast and grow literally anywhere but needs sun to bloom. I personally suggest reblooming varieties because IMO most daylilies are not aesthetically pleasing once it is done flowering. Also, hardy hibiscus are easy and have dinnerplate size flowers, they are finally pushing out neater cultivars like midnight marvel.
All of the mentioned plants come in the colors you desire.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 9:39AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5


well.. i would start by delineating a 6 to 8 foot bed.. and plant NOTHING closer than about 3 feet.. and surround the air conditioner.. but nothing within about 2 feet of it.. at height ....

and then i would cover bed heavily with a mulch.. so you quit shooting dirt on the nice white foundation..

and then i would move whatever you planted 6 inches from the corner..

and then i would stop by nurseries .. and spend $20 a week.. simply buying this and that.. and planting them.. and see what lives.. what makes it thru winter.. and just have fun.. gardening is all about buying a few things.. and digging a few holes.. and getting some fresh air and exercise ...

gardening is an Art .. rather than a science.. its all in your minds eye.. and though others can makes suggestions.. just buy what strikes your fancy ...

good luck


    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 12:01PM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

It looks like you've got a bunch of tulips and something else coming up there. You might want to wait a bit to let the tulips bloom to see if they're something you want to save - or, if you don't care, just did them out when you're preparing the bed and replant new ones in the fall if you want tulips next spring.

Are there any other utilities near there (e.g. gas lines)? It might be a good idea to phone the call-before-you-dig number for your area - it's always a good idea to check for buried utilities if this is the side of the house where things like gas, cable, water, electrical etc. enter the house.

Consider light and soil conditions when planning what to plant there. It helps to have some idea of what you want the area to look like rather than just buying plants at random.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 12:32PM
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Lavender is a bit fussy in many places and isn't easy to grow from seed. That doesn't mean that you shouldn't try, but I often can find pint plants for $3-5 in my area, and that might be easier. It likes relatively lean, dry soil after it has gotten established, but as for all plants, be sure to water any new transplant well and for the first couple of months. Echinacea is easier to start from seed.

An easier plant with gray-green leaves and purple flowers is catmint AKA Nepeta. Look it up and see if you like the look. It likes similar growing conditions to lavender, lean to average soil and lots of sun.

Daylilies come in a variety of shades of yellow and orange. I like the way they look with Limelight or Little Lime hydrangea, sort of like a creamsicle. You will have blooms for much of the summer, especially if in the fall you plant daffodils between the other plants for earlier spring bloom. You will want to be able to water the hydrangeas in dry weather, and many of them do well with some afternoon shade.

All of these plants will look fine in a cottage style garden.

Good suggestions from Woodyoak, and Ken's suggestion of beds at least 6-8 feet wide is a good one as well. That gives you room to leave a couple of feet to do maintenance on the house behind the plants and gets the plants out of the rain shadow caused by the house. Then you have room for more than one plant deep in the part of the bed you will be planting in.

You might want to put an organic mulch like pine bark down on all the beds but the one you will start with to keep weed seeds from sprouting. You can mulch the first bed after planting. Then when you are ready to plant the other beds, just pull aside the mulch and pop the plant in. Preventing weeds and pulling any that come up when they are small will make your life much easier.

Enjoy the process, and check around to see if there is a garden club in your area.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 2:51PM
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Lisa_H OK(7)

Which direction does your bed face? Where is your 7a? I am in zone 7, but in OK, and if that is a full sun bed, no hydrangea would survive there. I have three hydrangeas that barely survive an east facing bed with only morning sun.

Perennials make a nice backbone to your bed, but if you want season long color, it would be helpful to add some annuals in there too.

Salvias will give you some purple color. The annual blue salvia is perennial for me, so you might be able to use that too.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 3:42PM
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gyr_falcon(Sunset 23 USDA 9)

I would alter ken's suggestion [and then i would stop by nurseries .. and spend $20 a week.. simply buying this and that.. and planting them.. and see what lives.. what makes it thru winter.. and just have fun.. gardening is all about buying a few things.. and digging a few holes.. and getting some fresh air and exercise ... ] just a bit.

I suggest you look during one visit, copy or photograph the names of plants you like, then hit the internet or some good gardening books to see if those plants are invasive before purchasing them. Otherwise, it is a sure bet we will see a follow-up thread from you asking how to get rid of the beautiful @#!* plant taking over your garden! Since you recently moved into your home, I am fairly certain you will not be happy to read that the best answer to getting rid of some invasives is move to another house.

So I am suggesting to you up front, the best answer is not to plant anything that that has the potential to get seriously out of control via seed or runners.

Be aware that some runner-spreaders think nothing of zipping under 4' wide cement walkways for a break-out. A single 5" sprig of rampant whatever can cover 20sq' in one season. And Roundup is seemingly little more than nasty-tasting liquid nourishment to some tough guys.

This has been a public service announcement from the Voice of Experience, paid for by If-you-wanna-keep-it-fun gardening. ;-)

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 3:42PM
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Thank you all for your suggestions and advice. Trust me, when it comes to plants I definitely don't want anything invasive, but I do believe natives can be invasive too. I make sure to take pictures and to find out about a plant that I like once I get home.
So far, I have added some soil and mulch and moved some bulbs around over the last few days. My beds face southwest in Delaware.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 9:40AM
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natives can only be aggressive not invasive because they are meant to be in the landscape

This post was edited by greenthumbzdude on Wed, Apr 10, 13 at 11:11

    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 11:10AM
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Not sure re your growing conditions.

Where we live, one of the first sun perennials I recommend is Rudbeckia, 'Goldsturm', for it's vigour, hardiness, long-bloom time and the ease with which it can be chopped up with a spade and moved around.

I've also seen large blocks of it growing in various low maintenance situation.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2013 at 4:25PM
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Rudbeckia self seeded everywhere in my Illinois garden. If you don't want it to take over, beware!

    Bookmark   April 13, 2013 at 10:33AM
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interesting, sugeysgranny.

Think you have a seed-grown strain, rather than true 'Goldsturm', which I believe only spreads in a rhizomitous manner.

I've used 'Goldsturm' in several gardens which I've maintained over numbers of years. I've not noticed, what I have, seeding.

The clumps increase at a moderate rate, but are easy to manage with a spade.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2013 at 1:40PM
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Each fertile plant will selfseed if allowed and the conditions are right. It is the purpose of blooming. It is something you just have to acknowledge. It is as simple as this: do not want seed - cut the spent flowers down. No reason to invent " evil plants".

This post was edited by wieslaw59 on Sat, Apr 13, 13 at 17:22

    Bookmark   April 13, 2013 at 5:20PM
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I do do a lot of deadheading, Wieslaw, in part for the reason you say.

At the same time, I'd count sterility (not seeding around) as a big plus for many horticulturally produced hybrid cultivars.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2013 at 5:49PM
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