Replacing my "Tuscan Sun" and I need your input

rouge21_gw(5)September 12, 2013

Maybe this post should wait until the dead of winter but patience is not one of my virtues. I think I am coming around to the difficult decision to next season replace all 5 of my 2 year old "Tuscan Sun" heliopsis . I am torn as they are the most incredible bloom machines from very early summer to late September but I have spent too much time the past two season dealing with major infestations of aphids and sunflower moth larvae on every plant.

There are 5 of them and they alternate with "Havana Blues" geranium (I muse about replacing these as well as they are too 'sprawly' for the kind of neat compact plant border that seems to appeal to me but for now they stay).

Not a great pic showing all 5 but I think you get the idea:

I know I will miss the long bloom period of TS...of course there must be be many compact upright perennials (around 2 ft in height and less in width) with all summer blooming?)

And what is appealing about this current border is that both TS and HB are in bloom together for very many weeks.

I have no upright stonecrop sedums...the kind that is in bloom right now. I would consider such a sedum but I am just not sure how that would look i.e. a border in which for most of the season only half the plants are in bloom at any one time. What do you think?

And if I was going for a much earlier bloom time the replacement plants could be a Euphorbia of some type (again a plant I have none of). But I think I can get by w/o having a spring blooming perennial as this bed had lots of bulbs.

Maybe it would be safer to go with an annual such as my much loved very reliable and colourful wax begonia. (But they would be overwhelmed by the large HB)

Anyways I would love your interesting suggestions. I feel better just talking about it ;).

This post was edited by rouge21 on Thu, Sep 12, 13 at 17:55

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aachenelf z5 Mpls

Start exploring Helenium. Some like Mardi Gras bloom very early and continue all summer. Others start later, but are well worth the wait. You may not have the all-summer-blooms you currently have, but that can getting boring too. I had aphids all the time on my Heliopsis and that's why I gave up on them. Not a bug to be seen (except the good ones) on Helenium.


    Bookmark   September 12, 2013 at 7:03PM
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I have five TS as well, plus 'Summer Sun' and 'Summer Nights'. Yes, they've been visited by aphids, only so far. Someone on here mentioned a strong stream of water ie hose to combat these and it works. I hold the stem, give it a blast and as they say in the other country, Voiler!.

I do this maybe once every two weeks and it keeps the infestation to a in the odd stem. I like simple solutions

Personally, I don't see anything that would replace TS. As you said they are bloom machines. As to HB, I've got Geranium 'Patricia', now going for two months and showing no sign of flagging. It does have a large footprint, 24 tall by probably 30 inches wide, but it is dense, however the flowers are magenta rather than blue.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2013 at 7:04PM
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mjc_molie(z6 CT)

Rouge, I think this is chance to go in a completely different direction. I went back to look at your photos of Thalictrum 'Splendide' (that I really admire and am still thinking about for my garden next year) and this time looked carefully at the H. Bobo, the variegated hosta in the background and the bright green of the lawn and other shrubs, and I thought, hmmmmm ----

Why not go in a completely different direction by putting in a perennial that has an architectural presence? Something with more formal structure than the loose-limbed Tuscan Sun?

How about introducting a purple --- something like Sedum Vera Jamison whose purple stems and greenish purple leaves would complement the T. Splendide even before it blooms--- and stand out in contrast to the other greens and whites?

Or, to continue the look you have now --- how about some form of taller Eurphobia with its yellow tips against the lower green leaves?

I may be wrong in my plant suggestions for your location/zone or yard, but still think this could be fun if you look at this as an opportunity to "redecorate."


    Bookmark   September 12, 2013 at 7:18PM
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Good suggestion Kevin re the "Helenium"...another plant I have none of...I will check this out over the too long winter.

Molie, thanks as well for your input as "Sedums" and "Eurphobia" are plants I am considering

boday, you can imagine that I have tried many ways to keep aphids under control and to be honest I find it most effective to run my fingers down each affected stem...a bit yucky yes.


    Bookmark   September 12, 2013 at 7:41PM
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I am actually toying with the idea of replacing all the TS with "Bobos". (I would move the three I currently have planted at the back to the front and then find two more...either this fall or next spring). These particular hydrangea bloom prior to mid July and the flowers are still looking good 2 months later and counting..

This post was edited by rouge21 on Thu, Sep 12, 13 at 20:13

    Bookmark   September 12, 2013 at 8:03PM
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I guess being a zone colder probably limits the aphid problem.

I understand the 'Bobo spreads to four feet wide. And then you'd have the challenge to fill in the vacancy of the Bobos and could be seen over the tall border.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2013 at 8:23PM
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I have seen varying reports re its ultimate size. My two year old "Bobos" got nowhere near 4 feet in height. And I would think it blooming on only new wood would give lots of flexibility in terms of being able to shape it.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2013 at 8:29PM
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I'm glad you started this thread. It's making me re evaluate what I've done in some beds and some proposed changes that I'd planned.

I'm leaning to a Euphorbia border as you people discussed lo, these many years ago. I vote 'Bonfire' at the far end and then tone it down to 'First Blush'.

This post was edited by boday on Thu, Sep 12, 13 at 21:36

    Bookmark   September 12, 2013 at 9:24PM
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Helenium are long blooming but not really what I consider a front of the border plant. They get tall and flower so heavily they might topple over. Of course pinching early on might help.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2013 at 9:53PM
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It may not suit your needs or your eye but I'm just loving my Heuchera 'Palace Purple' in my own front bed. It's a mixed bed with medium-height hosta, Japanese sedge, toad lily, astilbe, turtlehead, stokesia, Jacob's ladder & a few others. The heuchera is a zero-care/zero-pest contrasting color foliage plant that I'm liking more with each season that passes. The dark foliage really stands out + the bees love the flowers.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2013 at 10:13PM
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karin_mt(4 MT)

I agree with the call for something structural.

Heuchera are a nice idea - can't go wrong there.
How about small roses, like Nearly Wild or Pink Drift? For me, both of those are a similar size and shape as a typical perennial.

Perhaps a stalwart echinacea like 'Magnus' which is both structural and long-blooming?

For a long-blooming border plant, I'd recommend scabiosa 'Fama' and the like. These pincushion flowers have a low mound of foliage and tall wands of flowers that go on and on and on. They come in purple to white shades, bees love them and they are easy care. They seed around a bit, but far from obnoxiously. This was one of the most frequently asked-about plants during the garden tour. Oh, and they can be started easily from seed.

Lots of fun ideas to ponder. I love questions like this in my own gardens.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2013 at 10:28AM
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I go back to "What do you want to emphasize?" To me it would be the Thalictrum and the Hydrangea 'Bobo' at the foot. So anything that took attention away from that sightline would be a distraction in the composition.

To me the question becomes, "Where is the most frequent sightline - at a distance, up close or both?" From inside the house, the 'Splendide' is backed by the shrub, outside it's backed by the window.

Just musing out loud.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2013 at 12:25PM
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I go back to "What do you want to emphasize?"

"Where is the most frequent sightline

For sure excellent questions.

The front most edge of this garden is about 15 feet from the public passing sidewalk. And so I want this front border to have some zing; a wow factor for pedestrians. So for example 4 Bobos (replacing 5 TS) with their mounds of white flowers from July to September, alternating with the blue flowers of hardy geraniums should be eye catching to people walking past. (And moving the 3 existing Bobos to the front would of course make them much more visible than they are currently)

This post was edited by rouge21 on Fri, Sep 13, 13 at 12:55

    Bookmark   September 13, 2013 at 12:45PM
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I think using the 'Bobos' as edging would make the border too high. I'd move them back a bit from the edge.

I've been trying to extend the hydrangeas rather than grass - shrub. I tried 'Dimity' with 'Quickfire' and that almost worked but I had 'Dimity' survival problems.

I have a north facing 25 foot bed, two feet wide with chain link fence. (I hate chain link)The costs of filling it were prohibitive. So I went down and dirty - cheap begonias and coleus with tall sweet peas. The sweet peas vary from year to year but they mask the fence. Any denser plant would create a mass of foliage with the flowers facing south.

Anyway, that's a nice color coleus and some other white plant might work as edging to the 'Bobos'.

This post was edited by boday on Fri, Sep 13, 13 at 18:03

    Bookmark   September 13, 2013 at 5:02PM
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Nice ideas. Funny thing is that I replanted 2 TS this summer after lost 2 to rabbits earlier this year.

Looking at your garden and the tall T. Splendide (so beautiful) and Bobo, how about a couple neat looking ornamental grass that have some purple color to complement the mostly green color and the texure of the tall green conifer ?

I recently planted a switchgrass Cheyenne Sky. It is the most drwaf and compact form (2 ft tall, plus 1 foot very airy tiny flower). The mix of dark purple/silver blue foliage, with a breeze, makes me stop and look at it everytime I walk by the garden. I planted 3 Heuchera Frost Violet next to the grass. Will try to take a picture tomorrow.

Roses are another option as well if you choose the kind that is drawf and carefree as mentioned by Karin. I have double knockout, pink and red in different places and they bloom for the entire May-October. But they are tall for your purpose. But drift roses would be good alternatives.


    Bookmark   September 13, 2013 at 9:01PM
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Not the best picture but here is my rejigged border of BOBOS (put in last fall). There are 6 BOBOs (5 of the 6 are blooming profusely) and between each pair there is either an "Azure Rush" hardy geranium or "Havana Blues" hardy geranium. These geraniums have not done much flowering this season :(.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2014 at 5:15PM
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