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I need flower bed design help! I failed miserably (pics)!

Posted by aggierose (My Page) on
Mon, Apr 2, 12 at 19:37

I need a lot of help! Our house was built 2 years ago and it's in one of those neighborhoods where every house looks like the next house. I hate that aspect of our neighborhood! When we moved in, I pulled out all of the landscaping that the builder had put in. I didn't like it because it was just the same old bushes that every other house had. I wanted my yard to look different. Now it's just a big mess. To make it worse, my house faces north so the foundation plants are in full shade half of the year, some sun for part of the year, and for 4-6 weeks in the hot, hot part of our Tx summer, they are in almost full sun. I planted azaleas as foundation plants, but those aren't going to work. Too much sun in the summer. I would love something along the foundation that is evergreen and I'm really liking dark green leaves. The roses in the front row are peach drift roses. There is plenty of room between the roses and the foundation plants for another row of something. I have already planted purple and deep pink pentas around the 2 trees in the yard and I want to add plenty of them in the bed too. I really would love to focus on the color purple as much as possible. Any ideas would really be appreciated! I'm in the Dallas area.
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Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: I need flower bed design help! I failed miserably (pics)!

My house also faces north and I am just S of Denton, TX.

About 12-15 years ago... (long before we moved in) the builder put in a mix of Indian Hawthorns and some dwarf yaupons and a low growing cedar ground cover thing I can't remember the name of right now. All are evergreen and do well in that location.

Though it looks to me like there really isn't enough room behind your roses for these shrubs.
I'd be willing to bet these are the exact same shrubs you ripped out! LOL


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Oh and I meant to say...

I don't think you failed miserably!!! I love the color of those roses! You already have a several different things blooming in nice colors in that bed.


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RE: I need flower bed design help! I failed miserably (pics)!

Melvalena, yes, I did rip our several Indian Hawthorns! I'm thinking now that I should have left the original landscaping alone. I'm probably going to have to pur back some of the things I ripped out since not much can handle that area. The azaleas were almost ok last summer. There are 2 fermosas in front of the bay window and those are the 2 that got scorched the worst.The flowerbed comes our further than it looks in the picture. It's probably about 8 feet from the bricks to the stone border at the narrowist part. Definietly enough room for more than just the roses and foundation plants. By the way, I live in Prosper and grew up in Denton.


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RE: I need flower bed design help! I failed miserably (pics)!

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purple color

Ahhh.. Eight feet should be enough room then.. In the pictures it looks to me like its about 3 feet. :)
Could be my eyesight...

I think you need some Laura Bush Petunias in that bed!
--summer color.. but they have been known to re seed themselves.
they come in both pink and a fuchsia/purple-y color. There are also some really pretty very purple petunias out in the stores right now. They should do well in that location.

There's also a few purple datura plants you could try.


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RE: I need flower bed design help! I failed miserably (pics)!

That's not a magnolia, is it?


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magnolia

Yes whitecap, that's a teddy bear magnolia on the left corner. The far right corner has a saucer magnolia. I'm not sure if you can see that one in the pictures though.


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RE: I need flower bed design help! I failed miserably (pics)!

Thanks melvalena. Do you have any suggestions for foudnation plants and how to arrange them?


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RE: I need flower bed design help! I failed miserably (pics)!

Not really, sorry.
I'm not so much a shrub person and not very good at foundation plantings.
If something pops in my head I'll be sure to let you know.


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RE: I need flower bed design help! I failed miserably (pics)!

If you really want your yard to look different, I think you would be best off to use the whole yard as your canvas rather than relying on foundation plantings to be your whole "landscaping."

The foundation is always the hardest area in a yard to grow plants well, and in addition, when you rely on foundation plantings to give you flower colour and seasonal interest, you mess up the role of the foundation plants - to the extent that they have one (disguising, grounding, softening, what have you). Your house never needed foundation planting to start with, plus you've got that dark recessed entry that is boxed in further by the wall and plants right at it.

I like your stone walls, but they kind of lock you in to a "where" your plants will be. Kind of a shame. You don't want to build more random tree circles in the yard but adding to that one will be tough.

You're not showing us enough of the yard to offer alternatives, but you might start by asking yourself what you would do if those beds were NOT "cast in stone" and then considering whether you might want to alter the beds you have.

Karin L


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RE: I need flower bed design help! I failed miserably (pics)!

Teddy bear. That's a new one on me. Mature size 15-20 ft.? That should work.

I've never quite understood the animus against "foundation plantings" here. Perhaps they're viewed as a knee-jerk holdover from pier-and-beam building practices, nevermind that discerning property owners have, for centuries, viewed where lawn meets structure a practical and aesthetically pleasing location for shrubs and perennials. I think your raised beds are quite stylish.

So you want your property to "stand out," giving voice to your unique inner self. Suppose everyone did that. The neighborhood would present abrupt transitions from Cottage
to High Santa Fe Chic to Tropical to Oriental to Lord-Knows-What. The effect would be quite disconcerting. Most of your neighbors have asked themselves how they can best contribute to the overall attractiveness of the neighborhood. That means following unifying themes and motifs.

The reason you see so much dwarf yaupon and Indian hawthorn on all sides is not necessarily because your neighbors are too dull and stolid to venture from the beaten path. The options for plants that can be maintained at 3 or 4 feet and will be attractive year round just aren't that broad. I suppose rosemary and loropetalum might work in that space. The latter, unfortunately, can look quite ghastly by midsummer, if you're soil isn't sufficiently acidic.


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RE: I need flower bed design help! I failed miserably (pics)!

While this does not look like "a mess" right now, I can imagine that in the future, there are going to be issues with that Magnolia encroaching and covering up important architectural features. Positioned so close to the house, there's no room for its growing wider. Ditto for the topiaries flanking the door. There's no room for increase in their size.

At their present size I like the roses. I can't see the point of their completely covering the shrubs behind. Nor can I see the point of something different covering the front of them. Trying to have all so many things together in the end is not going to be an advantage, but the opposite. One of the worst (most amateurish in my opinion) looks is alternating plants: petunia/ rose/ petunia/ rose or anything along those lines. It does not look good and going that direction will create "a mess." You have a juniper, but it looks like it will get too tall to be used successfully in a bed where you need very little height. I'd consider something lower, like 'Blue rug' and use it across the front of the raised bed in an attempt to add unity to plantings.

"It's probably about 8 feet from the bricks to the stone border at the narrowist part." Measure this for an accurate dimension.

"Most of your neighbors have asked themselves how they can best contribute to the overall attractiveness of the neighborhood. That means following unifying themes and motifs. Right on! One must look for ways to IMPROVE appearance, not just be different for the sake of being different. This usually means following the rules and principles that create good landscaping. Someone trying to go above and beyond might go out of their way looking for better plants. Or get a little more involved and creative in taking care of them: arbors/ trellises/ topiary/ plant structure control, etc.


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RE: I need flower bed design help! I failed miserably (pics)!

Unfortunately, the stone is not going to change. It's just too expensive and there is no way my DH will go for it. I really just want a flowerbed that looks really pretty. I definitely don't have that now. The drift roses in front will only get about 1 1/2 feet tall, not much taller than they are now. The patio trees are gardenias. Should I remove them? If so, what should I put there instead? I don't have a juniper anywhere. You may have seen the rosemary. That is something I planted last year and was told it would survive the winter, but here it is thriving. I don't want it there and I plan on moving it to the backyard. As far as foundation plants, I just keep calling them that because I need something by my house to replace the azaleas and I don't know what else to call them.


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RE: I need flower bed design help! I failed miserably (pics)!

Perhaps the first thing to clarify is that the exposure that matters is what happens in summer. If this is full sun in summer, and part sun the rest of the growing season, then pretty much full sun is the condition you are shopping for. The exposure in winter is kind of irrelevant since the plants are dormant.

Flower beds are not pretty all the time. That is because flowers are by definition a temporary feature. If you want a bed that always looks good as a foundation planting, then focus on plant form and foliage, treating flowers as an incidental treat. If you focus on purple flowers in your shopping, you will have a pretty flower bed for a few weeks of the year. The rest of the time you will have some variant of bare earth, indistinguishable green blobs, and maybe dying foliage. Flower gardening is hard to do well year-round.

But consider hellebores - amazingly tough plant, available in purple, blooms off-season, pretty good foliage (as filler, ground cover) the rest of the year.

What most people do for foundation planting is incorporate evergreen plants, but if you want different, and pretty, look for different and pretty evergreens. Pay attention to foliage and form, and don't worry too much about flowers. Maybe look for some plants that will trail over the wall as well as some that will provide backbone for the plantings you have.

I don't know the plants of your area, but regardless of locale, I find those types of roses look awful as foundation plants - they have nothing to recommend them but their flowers, which cannot be appreciated from a distance. I find the plants themselves awfully amorphous. So my instinct would be to put some plants with distinct form (not meatballs, but things like junipers with distinct upright or carpeting or sweeping form) actually mixed in with the roses, not lined up behind. Let the roses be the jewelry on the interesting evergreens, rather than putting boring evergreens to back up the roses. To me it's like the roses are meant to be back-up singers, and to back them up with even more back-up leaves you lacking a lead voice.

Go to your local nursery and look for evergreens with interesting shapes - conifers (specialty types if you can get them) and broadleaf types. Back them up/jewel them up with flowers, and you will have a bed that looks good all the time.

Karin L


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RE: I need flower bed design help! I failed miserably (pics)!

I also have to say that coming to a forum asking for help doing something different from the neighbours, and being told to comply, is one of the odder moments we've had here.

Personally, I don't think the neighbours should be allowed to dictate your landscaping.

Karin L


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RE: I need flower bed design help! I failed miserably (pics)!

You would do well to search your selections on the Texas Forum before buying. Some of the advice you may see here--however earnest or well intended-- comes from those with little or no experience with Texas clay, rock, heat and water restrictions.


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RE: I need flower bed design help! I failed miserably (pics)!

Thanks Karin. I was a little surprised that I was told to comply as well. I'm not wanting to do anything extreme. I just didn't want to have the exact same landscaping that all of my neighbors have. The builder put in the exact same plants in pretty much the exact same spots on every house and I just wanted to change things up. That's why I pulled everything out and planted azaleas. I haven't seen a single azalea in my subdivision except at my house. (They do grow well here. I had huge azaleas at my last house and they were gorgeous). I know that the plants the builder used were good plants to use in Tx, but there have got to be more than 3 or 4 good plants to use!


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RE: I need flower bed design help! I failed miserably (pics)!

No one is shouting "Conform! Conform! Conform!" at you. I'm just saying that your practical options are more limited than you realize. Take a drive through Highland Park, River Oaks or Alamo Heights, and you will see an abundance of the plants you have rejected as being too commonplace. You will also see plenty of color, but the Blue Hairs making the decisions have deep pockets and gardeners.

There is a sizable area of Plant Heaven filled with my attempts to be "different." Look at all the exotics being wheeled out of nurseries, never to be seen again. They are not seen because they did not survive.

I am also saying you should be cautious about introducing discordant notes into the neighborhood. You do understand the concept of "neighborhood," right? Attractive neighborhoods are desirable in their own right, and enhance the value of the residences contained therein. This leaves ample room for creativity. In any event, you seem to have "made your bed," so to speak.


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RE: I need flower bed design help! I failed miserably (pics)!

whitecap, I truly don't think you understand what I'm trying to do. I'm not trying to find exotic plants that won't work in my area. I'm not even against using some of the same plants. But, there are other plants that can be used other than indian hawthorn and boxwoods. There are also better ways to place them that will make them look better than just a straight row of the same kind of bush. I just don't know how to do it so it looks good so I came here asking for help. Clearly, you aren't really willing to help, which is fine. Also, you seem to think only blue hairs with deep pockets can have yards with plenty of color??? Are you assuming that I'm some young 20 something with no money to make my garden colorful? Why would you make an assumption like that? You have no idea what my financial capabilities are or what kind of time I have to spend in my yard. And yes, I do understand what a "neighborhood" is. I lived in my last neighborhood for 7 years where the homes were all 30-40 years old. Every yard was very different and it was GORGEOUS! Why was it like that? Because the homeowners made it their own and it wasn't just a row of bushes that the builders put in.


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RE: I need flower bed design help! I failed miserably (pics)!

Aggierose, I never understood that anyone was saying the neighborhood should dictate what you plant. Only that YOU should be wanting to do things that fit with the neighborhood and make it better. It sounds like that's what you think, too. I don't think anyone is suggesting that you can't put some personality into your yard. Couple it with practicality and you're good to go.


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RE: I need flower bed design help! I failed miserably (pics)!

Now, now. You've already received, from other forums, suggestions for about every colorful plant remotely suitable for the conditions presented. I suspect that most of these suggestions will look pretty ragged for much of the year, and run you ragged, but if you're really an Aggie, maybe you can pull it off.


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RE: I need flower bed design help! I failed miserably (pics)!

Aggie, the journey can indeed be frustrating and paved with failures. but each failure is a learning experience. What people with experience can do is help you identify the lesson, and maybe also help you to differentiate the possible from the impossible, but don't let anyone rob you of the journey or of giving it a try.

At the risk of repeating myself, you are asking a lot of yourself to get both your foundation planting and your flower gardening out of one spot. If colour and seasonal variation are really important things for you, I really would suggest you consider adding a bed somewhere to give yourself more opportunity in better growing conditions - and that is tough to do nicely if you don't make a new bed out of the same stone. But maybe you can do that.

The other thing that is a bit uphill for you is that you can only get so much uniqueness when your plantings are in the same PLACE as everyone else's. I suspect in your old neighbourhood, there was variety in WHERE in the yard people put their plants, as well as variety in what plants they had. If I drive through the neighbourhood, everyone's plants are probably at the foundation, and if only the details vary, the overall impression is still very similar.

So your bed at the foundation is working against your desire to do something original on two counts.

But it can be done... if you haven't already asked in the conifers forum, ask there for some suggestions for specialty conifers that would do well in these conditions. You do need evergreen plants - the bones, so to speak - and they can be broadleaf or needled evergreens. If you want a lot of variety in your flowering plants, you might enjoy having repeats of some interesting evergreens... I keep thinking of Chamaecyparis 'Wissel's Saguaro' but that might just be because I like it a lot. No idea if it works in your conditions. Even boxwoods would look good as consistent, repeated forms to offset the variety. If, on the other hand, you want consistency in the flowers (all purple petunias or peach roses), then go for variety in the conifers.

Who knows, you might develop a talent for topiary :-) Some of my favourite yards are amazing topiary confections. I don't have the patience or the discipline for it though. Then you can do amazing things with quite ordinary plants. Pruning makes all the difference between green blobs and interesting shapes.

Broadleaf evergreens will also offer some options for you; try asking for advice at a couple of nurseries - not big box stores. I don't know if the Ilex family would work or not, but if so, Ilex 'Mariesii' is a lovely plant - varies in form, can have some fun with it. Whitecap is right that people like me from outside your area may not be much use for specific plant recommendations, but we can help with form, and process.

I've linked below to a site that explains the principles of landscape design in a way that I like. It doesn't all translate to the design of a single bed, but you can maybe play with some of the ideas.

Karin L

Here is a link that might be useful: Principles of landscape design


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RE: I need flower bed design help! I failed miserably (pics)!

I am in longview, zone 8. Some of the things that do better in our area that are purple are purple redbuds, blackie sweet potato vine, new zealand flax, and purple heart. The purple heart should survive the winter if mulched around heavily, and the sweet potato vine is a fast spreading annual that you can root cuttings in water with easily.

I would remove that small tree in front of your house #.

I would plant a small growing weeping japanese maple just underneath that little gem magnolia, and would spend some $ on it "like 100 for a 4 foot tree". I would then plant some of that sweet potato vine along the edges of the bed so it can cascade down the side. The potato vine is a good indicator of when the bed needs water as they do extremely well in the insane summer heat, you could use the green, black "purple", or brown varieties.

Purple Pixie loropelatium "not sure of exact spelling" gets about 1 foot high and would look great under each tree on the sides.

I think you need a much larger pot, probably vase shape and really tall, in between the garadges, and would plant the new zealand flax in that, with a repetition of sweet potato vine cascading down the side pulling it all in togeather.

I am not a fan of shrubs that need to be maintained, but I think green dwarf hollys around the front window would go really well with your brick color and would give the entire landscape a grown up formal look. Throw in a Japanese maple behind/along side the magnolia to the left, bleeding heart in front of the holly, and sweet potato vine cascading, and it would make for a stellar landscape on the cheap thats great for our east texas hot summer. Just make sure you keep the JM watered heavily its first year, mulch heavy around it, and plant it in a lot of shade.


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RE: I need fl3ower bed design help! I failed miserably (pics)!

I disagree with whitecap entirely. Texas has far to many yards that totally look alike, with azaleas, boxwoods, and crape myrtles. "to me crape myrtles often look butchered, drop a ton of blooms, or look bad when not pruned". Azaleas look great when blooming "for about the month they actually bloom". To me season round interest is key, like loropetulum, Japanese maples, Little gem magnolias, dogwoods, and redbuds.

Being unique doesn't mean you have to get plants that don't grow well, after all were in the zone 8 range which allows us to plant a vast variety of things. I personally like heat resistant low maintenance, low water plants.

I mentioned the new zealand flax because I think it would go with the purple color pattern and add a spikey texture to your garden while adding height to the planter. Not to mention the tips are soft so it wouldn't scratch he cars :)

Hope this helps a lot, my wife loves our purple based yard, the dark also adds depth and white flowers really pop against it.


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RE: I need flower b3ed design help! I failed miserably (pics)!

I would also get rid of both of those round trees blocking your house # and would plant one arborvite or italian cypress right on the left right next to the dwarf holly. That would draw the eye upward and add evergreen color.

You could also add to that large driveway vase shaped pot instead of flax a 6 foot tresslis and add a climbing rose. To me that would look amazing. Your front yard seems pretty small, so height is a really big thing, you need to add large size things "its kind of the opposite of what you'd think". But with that maple/oak in the front you need the height to add dimension as the house it pretty tall.


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RE: I need flower bed design help! I failed miserably (pics)!

Oceandweller, thank you so much for your input! I really do appreciate it! I would absolutely love to plant a japanese maple. They are one of my favorites. However, I'm worried that it would get entirely too much sun in my bed. I'll do some more research and see if there is a variety that can handle a little more sun. We also have a lot of wind here and I'm not sure they can handle that either. Our HOA requires that we have 2 trees in our front yard so I can't remove either of the trees that are in the yard. I definitely agree with getting a larger pot for between the garage doors. The one that is there is just one that I already had so I just used it. I think adding some white flowers is also a great idea.


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RE: I need flower bed design help! I failed miserably (pics)!

Oceandweller, I've had several people say to get rid of the 2 patio trees. Breaks my heart. Those are gardenias and I've never been able to grow them until I planted them there. They have absolutely thrived! But, the overall concensus seems to be that they don't look good there. What would you suggest planting in place of the one to the right of the door? I actually just put a 6 foot trellis in that pot and planted a purple clematis. We will see how that will do. If it doesn't do well, I'll definitely try a climbing rose next year. I love roses and have lots of them in my backyard.


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RE: I need flower bed design help! I failed miserably (pics)!

aggie, they can't handle sun. That said, my mom grows quite a few along the alabama gulf coast, the trick, keep them very well mulched "we use pine straw" and shaded. Thats why I was saying if its not full sun on the left you could get a weeping variety and hide it behind the little gem magonlia on the left, plant some sweet potato vine at the base of it and that will help protect from the 100+ degree summers we have been having. I also think JM do really well with part day sun. I hope that helps a lot, I like the the home, this would also keep you from having to dig up a ton, just the front two trees, the verbenia "or whatever is to the left of the purple azalea, and the pink flowers in front "could always use them in one of the side beds". I am about to be doing 1 1/2 acres on the cheap so that should be fun and will be using many of these same thigns, I plan on doing some edibles as well, like blueberry, blackberry, wine vines etc. That would be fairly cool as well, a climing wine vine or concord grape vine up the wall :) with onion below it or herbs "just some food for thought" :)


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RE: I need flow3er bed design help! I failed miserably (pics)!

Purple clematis should be a really good choice. I would keep the gardenias in a heartbeat, and would just move them somewhere along one of the sides of the house.

I would only plant one arborvitae or italian cypress, check out the spiraling italian cypress, they are very pretty. And would leave the area where the house #'s is devoid of any tree. I would personally add there a sqare concrete planter thats about 2 foot tall and probably grow a herbs or succulents in it as it will be a focal point down low when walking up and would compliment the tall evergreen. That would work because the home isn't totally uniform so you don't always have to match exactly, but I honestly like flowing and with the size yard you can't do large groupings but things like a couple of sweetpotato vines in different spots will pull it all in together.


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RE: I need3 flower bed design help! I failed miserably (pics)!

And in hiding that japanese maple, you would still see it as that magonlia will grow tall and give the japanese maple filtered light which is what they love. Then you'd get that great fall color of many of the weeping varieties, great spring color, and in the winter when the leaves are down, it wouldn't be a total focal point because the base would be semi hidden by your evergreen magonlia :)


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RE: I need flowe0r bed design help! I failed miserably (pics)!

Sorry about the insane amount of posts, you just have a lot of potential, I would also use the foliage from the bleeding heart, sweet potato vine, or purple pixie, as a backdrop to white annuals such as petiuia, pansies, or verbena


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