Sunday, June 22, 2008

Opinions, Please.

Okie, dokie. I took my own advice in the last post and created a "picture" of my considerations for the foundation plantings. If I never, ever do anything else "gardening-wise" I will want to get this much right, at least.

Sorry about the picture quality: it's my photo of the house "doctored" with MS Paint, printed and then rescanned with the little plants on it.

We have from left to right:


  • Thuja Occidentalis, 'Smaragd." (max) Height: 12 Feet, Spread: 4 feet. Lawn green coloured foliage. Evergreen. Texture: fine.
    Cost--not on my price list, but a similiar tree is about $100.00 so let's say that.
  • Cornus alba 'Ivory Halo' Dogwood. H: 6 feet, Spread: 5 feet. White variegated green foliage. Texture: average. Red Stems in winter. Cost: $30 for a 21cm (9"?) pot.
  • Hydrangea aborescens 'Annabelle' H: 4 feet, Spread 5 feet. Enourmous ball shaped flowers. Some books say it "doesn't look bad" in winter. Leggy. Texture: coarse. Cost: $30.00 for a 21cm pot. Grows quickly.
  • Thuja Occidentalis, 'Little Giant' H: 5 feet, Spread 5 feet. Cost:$45 for 27 cm pot.


  • On the right, under the dining room window, another Annabelle Hydrangea and a Little Giant. (I may not actually have room for both.)

    Total cost: $280.00 (And there be my budget for this year.)


    (I really have to tone down that front door, now!)
    Questions:

    1. The tall conifer may not be dark enough. My second choice is Rocky Mountain Juniper 'Medora' with blue-green foliage, but it only grows up to 10 feet tall (about the height of the windows) and it is leggy (up to 2 feet). Is it OK there--or is the balance of the facade tipped over to far? Egads, maybe it isn't big enough?

    2. What does Hydrangea look like in the winter? Will it grow in the smaller second location which is extremely shady? (Though I won't know exactly how shady it really is until the shaggy trees are removed.) At 4 feet, is it too low? (The windows start at 5 feet from the ground). What should I plant in front of it? (It's leggy).

    3. What do you think? Honestly?

    19 comments :

    scb said...

    I like the shapes and layout very much -- a darker conifer probably would balance out the darkness on the other side of the house (caused, I assume, by the shade from the neighbor's tree).

    I googled winter hydrangea (no quotation marks) and clicked "From Canada", and found a caution to make sure that the hydrangea you buy is an overwintering one, and found a few sites that might be helpful for you, like this one http://www.gardening-at-the-crossroads.com/winter-garden.html

    (If that doesn't turn out properly when I post the comment, it's gardening-at-the-crossroads dot com slash winter-garden dot html )

    There was also a site that showed someones hydrangea with a styrofoam cone over it, covered with snow. I have a feeling that's not the look you're going for.

    Those low round bushes compliment the angels of the house nicely, in my opinion.

    scb said...

    Proofread, SCB, proofread. While the round bushes may be very complimentary to angels, I actually meant *angles*. Sigh.

    Alana in Canada said...

    Thanks, scb. I'll check out that link. You know, I hadn't even thought about the shapes of the plants! But they are lovely and softening aren't they? Thanks.

    drwende said...

    Totally in agreement with SCB on the aesthetic issues; totally ignorant on the horticultural ones.

    Alana in Canada said...

    Aesthetics is good! Very good.

    Anne (in Reno) said...

    Where I come from it is not that cold in the winter and the hydrangeas all still drop all their leaves. Nekkid hydrangeas are fugly. Have you looked at any rhododendrons or azaleas? They seem to be tougher, in my experience.

    Also, I love my dogwoods but none of them are that compact and bushy. Maybe if you trimmed it but for the shape you've got I am not sure dogwood is for you. I will try and find a picture of my dogwoods and stick it back up but they are not tidy and easy to shape like Thuja and juniper. Also, have you considered Arborvitae where you are?

    Anne (in Reno) said...

    Oh, duh, and I love the layout.

    Alana in Canada said...

    Thanks, Anne. Just the info I was looking for. Firstly, there are lots of dogwoods, most of which are NOT like this one--they're much larger! Secondly, I fear you may be right about the hydrangea. There ust be hundreds of species, though--and only two are hardy in my Zone (3). (The other one grows to 8x8 feet, however! Rhododendrons are not hardy at all, here, and there are so many dire warnings about their fussy soil preferences (organic! acidic! well-drained!) that they scare me.
    This is the North side of the house which only gets sun for half the year--and then only in the morning. The afternoon sun is very low and only for about the last hour of the day. It's a difficult spot.

    Alana in Canada said...

    Anne--Arborvitae IS Thuja, isn't it?

    zooza said...

    I googled and found this picture of a hydrangea in winter:

    http://heirloomgardener.blogspot.com/2008/02/telegraphcouk-annabelle-hydrangea-how.html

    Does that help?

    And, aesthetically, I think it all looks great.

    zooza said...

    I googled and found this picture of a hydrangea in winter:

    http://heirloomgardener.blogspot.com/2008/02/telegraphcouk-annabelle-hydrangea-how.html

    Does that help?

    And, aesthetically, I think it all looks great.

    Anne (in Reno) said...

    Hmm. I have seen a lot more rhododendrons growing wild than I have hydrangeas, which always leads me to assume the fussy soil requirements are overkill, I have even seen them growing here which means a potential 40 degree F temperature gradient in one day. They seem pretty sturdy as long as they get lots of water, in my experience. And they don't need a ton of sun. I'd keep looking.

    And duh, Thuja = arborvitae, I must be thinking of something else.

    Anne (in Reno) said...

    Oh, and the google images I found of alba "Ivory halo" do lead me to believe that it is a way better shape for your front yard than the one I was picturing. I'd put in more other places too, as dogwoods seem to be quick growers in general. That does seem pricey for what is really more like an 8" pot. Mine were on sale and most of them I paid about $25 for a 5 gallon pot, which is at least 10", I think. When does your planting season start/end up there? Mine have done way better when I have planted them in the fall, that is when you're supposed to plant bigger, anchoring shrubs and trees so they can establish over the winter.

    Alana in Canada said...

    Thank you so much Zooza. If they do indeed drop their heads here (and it may be likely) it will be awful.

    I do want something flowery here...I'm going to keep looking.

    I have a 1/2 a mind to get one and see how it winters--but plant is somewhere else, perhaps. I'll have to see how well it would take to transplanting and over winters.

    About the rhododendrons: I was reading last night that I can tell the acidity of my soil if I take a smaple of soil and pour a little cider vinegar on it. Fizz = acidic, nothing = alkaline or neutral. There's a ton of arborvitae ground cover currently, though, so I'm not sure how deep I'd have to dig.

    scb said...

    I've been googling again -- rhodos need to be wrapped with burlap to overwinter them in Alana-land; azaleas are supposed to be able to overwinter (but I had never even considered such a thing. To me, azaleas around here are potted things that stay in the house...)

    At the farm (further south than you are, lots of snow cover in the winter), we had a beautiful Columbine at the corner of our front step that overwintered with no problem at all. Also had peonies. Round, bushy things, with flowers -- but the peonies always have ants crawling on them when the buds are opening.

    scb said...

    P.S. Our front flower beds faced west, so they got oodles of sun. All we had on the north was grass and trees, so that's not much help. I'm going to post pics of my uncle's house today... I forget what they had in their front yard (back in the late 1960s) but I think their house may have faced the same way as yours.

    Alana in Canada said...

    Azaleas are rhododendron. I hadn't known that! Peonies require sun. I love them but the ants freak me--as they do the husband. As well, they only hang on to their flowers for about a week!

    Columbine--I'll look it up. Thanks.

    scb said...

    Azaleas are rhododendron??? Where? How? Really???

    lorijo said...

    I just bought two crimson twig dogwoods because I saw them on one of your posts. (on sale 9 bucks for a 3 gallon that is about 4 ft tall) I am also getting another one from my parents when they yank it out of their front yard.

    I really like the plantings. I think they look really nice with the house. A darker shrub would probably show nicer from the street though.

    I haven't had an ant problem with my azaleas- bees yes. Those tiny annoying ones.

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