Blue Princess Holly

fife78(Zone 6A)November 19, 2012

I am looking for information about Blue Princess Holly as a foundation plant. My house is a traditional Cape Cod style (central door with two windows either side), but has a Gambrel style roof. The floor elevation is about 3 feet above finished grade which means there is about 30 inches or so of exposed concrete below the siding. The bottom of the windows is roughly 6 feet above finished grade. My goal is to provide a nice evergreen foundation planting of three Blue Princess Hollies on each side of the door (I will locate a Blue Prince somewhere else in the yard). I have connections at local nurseries so I hope to obtain larger size plants (about 4 feet in height). I do not want the Hollies to block the windows so I will clip them as necessary.

Now for the first of my two questions: I like the somewhat open form of the BP Holly and do not want to have a hedge. Will they stay somewhat open or will they start to fill in and look like a hedge as I keep them clipped to 6 feet in height?

Second question: how do they handle snow load? Because of the steep slope of the Gambrel, large amounts of snow come crashing down to the ground and take out lots of the shrubbery that is currently planted. I know I can avoid this by moving the shrubs away from the house, but that distance would need to be about 4 feet. I fear it would begin to look very unusual with such a large gap between the house and plants. So I'm wondering how durable these Hollies are.

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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

Will they stay somewhat open or will they start to fill in and look like a hedge as I keep them clipped to 6 feet in height?

==>> your problem.. is defining PRUNING ...

if you SHEAR them.. give them a hair cut.. they will become the 'hedge' you dont want...

if you learn to selectively PRUNE them.. you can achieve ANY shape or form you want ... e.g. topiary, at an extreme ....

as to foundation planting.. IMHO ... nothing is planted ON THE FOUNDATION .. ever!!!

first.. there should be 3 to 4 feet of clear space at the house ... for window cleaning.. ladders.. gutter cleaning.. xmas light hanging.. painting .. etc ...

and given that you want a 4 foot plant.. on center.. the 4 foot above.. plus the 2 feet on center.. would mean you should consider planting these ... SIX FEET FROM THE HOUSE ... and ipso presto bingo bango.. no snow load issue ...

so you would start.. by building a new front garden bed... to alleviate your concerns about 'such a large gap between the house and plants.'

your descriptive words are fine and dandy.. but if you want real help .. you need to post some pix.. so we can 'see' it all.. and offer further suggestions ...

oh.. and as to the grade issue ... a nice wall of retaining brick ... out 10 feet from the house ... backfilled with appropriate soil ... will make the foundation disappear.. and give you a nice bed.. to plant things in .. do plan.. much beyond these few shrubs.. its time to make an impact statement ... after all.. it is the front of your house. ..

see pix below ...

so much for the budget.. good luck


my house is also on a hill ... here are some pix of the walls i build.. not very hard in my sand.. but heavy labor for sure ... if you look back by the hot tub.. you can see the basement wall ...

on this one.. look deep into the pic at the wall.. note nothing is planting NEXT to the house .. otherwise in the forefront .... the only way to properly prune a purple plum.. lol ...

    Bookmark   November 21, 2012 at 8:37AM
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The hollies will not be durable enough to resist the snow coming off the roof. It's a mixed blessing will be easier to maintain the open form that would otherwise be a dense hedge if you kept it clipped to 6'.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2012 at 11:07AM
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fife78(Zone 6A)

Ken...Thank you for your response. While I agree with your recommendations for locating the shrubs six feet from the house, I am afraid I do not agree with your recommendation for building a planter wall.

smivies...Thanks for your input on the durability of the Hollies. Yours was the response I was hoping for, despite it not necessarily being what I wanted to hear! I will keep watch this winter and observe where these avalanches, as I like to call them, land with respect to the face of the house. That should help me determine proper plant location.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2012 at 9:36AM
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botann(z8 SEof Seattle)

Good move on that purple Plum Ken!
How come it took so long? ;-)
They're one of the most overplanted trees here in the Seattle area, and the most pruned, resulting in long lines at the garbage transfer stations.
No pun intended.

Fife78, I'd move those plants out from the avalanche zone.
My brother in northern Idaho, with a metal roof, put in a rock garden with Sedums and Hen and Chicks. It's buried in snow for months at a time and emerges in Spring looking just fine. He used very big rocks to make a statement, otherwise it would have been visually 'lost'.
I know it's a departure from tradition, but that's the beauty of it.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2012 at 10:16AM
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