Saturday, August 23, 2014

Looking for a few good shrubs

I need your help.

Over the past week or so, I've been putting together a list of perennials to fill in some of the holes in the garden but have realized that I'm deeply unsatisfied with the shrubs I have in most of it. They should help provide structure and definition but they've really an afterthought or just put in wherever I thought I had room. So I'm trying to remedy that with some strategic purchases.

Right now, the area that unsettles me the most is the allée for three reasons: upkeep, privacy, and blah (this is a technical term that will be explained shortly).


I bought three shrubs last year and they're all on one side of the allée. On the other side, the side that borders my neighbors' yard, are three other shrubs that were originally elsewhere in the yard and doing great. Once I moved them to the allée, however, everything turned to crap. Coincidence? Not sure. But the Hypericum frondosum (St. John's Wort) has root rot and two-thirds of it has already been removed. The Viburnum is making a slow recovery from its near death experience last year but still looks awful. And for unknown reasons, my bushy lilac partially died this year (one giant branch just turned brown).

St. John's Wort. It's a massive shrub but two-thirds of it has already been removed.

The writing seems to be on the wall and I'm kind of over the whole thing. I'm sick of babying these guys in the hopes that maybe in a few years they'll look good again. 


Earlier this year, I thought my neighbors on the allée side were going to put up a fence. I envisioned structure and some more privacy via a nice wooden one. Well, I went a little too far in my imagination. They will eventually be putting up a fence but it will be a smaller iron one. In the mean time, I'd like a little more screening from their new shed or privacy from their patio when I sit at my back table. 

Craptastic Viburnum in front of neighbors' new shed

Finicky lilac in front of neighbors' new shed


I took this picture below and was thinking that I'd have to put one hell of a caption to describe where the Viburnum and lilac are, and it hit me:

Too. Much. Green. Everything blends together. There is no definition, no structure. It's all so blah! I guess there was a reason I was looking online at plants like Cotinus 'Royal Purple' and thinking about evergreen shrubs or trees. 

So you can see my dilemma. I'm ready to make changes but I don't know what to buy. Do you have any suggestions, dear internet? I'm in zone 7a. The allée gets full sun (from about 10 am until sundown). These beds are narrow - only about 3 or 4 feet wide, so unfortunately something like a Cotinus is too big. An evergreen would be nice to look at it in the winter when there's nothing else there to look at. I'd love it to help on the privacy front and be low maintenance. I don't care if it flowers (or when, if it does). The area gets more winter wind and snow than other parts of the garden because it's open to all of the other, fence-less yards of my neighbors, so whatever I put there will need to be up for the pummeling it may get in difficult winters.

If you have any suggestions, please feel free to leave them in the comments below. 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - August 2014

This is a belated post but when you have company from out of town staying with you for a week, blog posts don't get written on time.

The garden is at once both vibrant and on its way out for the summer. The Pharm continues to produce tomatoes and the butternut squash vine has taken over every spare inch of space. The allée is more alive a year into its existence than I could have ever thought possible. And the back yard continues to be subtle but reliable. The weather has been cool and hardly humid which is really rare 'round these parts. I feel like I ought to take advantage of it and weed or something but it's too nice to do anything but just sit, sip some coffee, and stare at the flowers.

The Pharm

Zinnias, marigolds, and Rudbeckia complement the vegetable plants

Butternut squash growing on top of Sedum 'Autumn Joy'

Rudbeckia and Russian sage

Echinacea purpurea starting to fade

The allée

Echinacea, Hibiscus and Phlox 'Blue Paradise'

Rudbeckia and Phlox 'Blue Paradise' (which looks purple!)

Agastache 'Golden Jubilee' and Joe-Pye Weed 'Phantom'. The bees lurve it here.

More Rudbeckia, Phlox 'Blue Paradise', and zinnia. I love this color combo.

Looking from front to back

Looking from back to front

The back yard

Oh hey. More Echinacea (including 'White Swan), Rudbeckia, and Phlox 'Blue Paradise'.

A vignette of potted plants and Barbara the lime tree outside my back door.

Wide shot from the side

From the back to the front

That wraps up August. Thanks, as always, to May Dreams for hosting another Bloom Day.