I've narrowed my choices... help me choose?

collins designApril 28, 2010


I am new on this forum, but a regular in other GW forums. I'm hoping some of you rhody experts can help:)

I'm re-designing the plantings around our new home. The area I am working on now is the east side of the house. I am looking for two plants...

Along this stretch of wall, I have, from the left corner:

a 'Tina' crabapple planted at the edge of a deep bed on the corner. Tina blooms in May and has pink buds opening to white flowers.

#1 PLANT CHOICETo the right of Tina is one spot I want to put a rhody or azalea. I would like it to be about 3-4' high and 5-6' wide. I'm not sure about blooms. I guess ideally it should bloom later or earlier than Tina.... but if it overlaps, it needs to look nice together. Match or contrast? I don't know!

#2 PLANT CHOICETo the right of that new shrub is a blue Fothergilla (5' high in 10 years). It blooms (white) in early May and is completely bare until then. It just looks way too bare against the house there, so my thought is to plant low-growing, denser, evergreen or semi-evergreen shrubs in front of the Fothergilla to fill it in the rest of the year. I'm thinking of a low azalea/rhody and a 'Nana' Leucothoe (24" high, 5' spread. Green and reddish foliage.) So something about 24"-30" high...

To the right of those is a Dorothy Wycoff Andromeda/Pieris. Then the front door, then a grouping that includes another Pieris, a weeping red japanese maple, a low blue juniper, reddish-purple heuchera, lenten rose, and perennnial grasses. At the other end of the planting (with a dwarf white cedar and blueberries in between) is the last major piece: a 'Betty' magnolia that blooms in late April/early May (just before 'Tina') with white and magenta blooms. Things will be filled in with spring bulbs, ornamental grasses, magenta peonies, and other perennials.

(Elsewhere in the yard are some Aglo and/or Olga rhododendrons and some unidentified ones that I think are standard purple/pink.)

To give you an idea of the aethetic: The house is oil-dipped natural cedar shingles (beige-grey) and a sort of modern cottage aethetic. The garden has a sort of modern Asian/1950's feel.

Here are some I am condidering:

for #1 spot next to crabapple:

Korean Azalea 'Sweet Sixteen' (although I am not convinced it's not deciduous here! Local nursery lists it as "evergreen foliage" but I read otherwise on line...)

Rhody 'chionoides'

Rhody 'Boule de Neige'

For #2 spot in front of Fothergilla:

Azalea 'Girard's Karen'

Azalea 'Girard's Pleasant White'

Azalea 'Rosebud'

Rhody 'Pohjola's Daughter'

Rhody 'Yaku Prince'

These are all in local nurseries' catalogs, so I think I can get them.

Any thoughts??

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rhodyman(SE PA, USDA Z6)

I am not a landscaper nor am I known for having good taste, so I will just comment on the plants.

Boule de Neige is one of the most beautiful plants 12 months of the year. The bloom period is among the longest of rhododendrons. The plant is great without flowers. The ones I am most familiar with are in partial shade. It is very hardy, will even bloom well in deep shade and likes cold climates.

I have Chionoides and like it but Boule de Neige is much better.

Yaku Prince is slow growing, but is a beautiful plant with that great yakusimanum foliage with rich indumentum. The flowers open reddish pink but fade to pale pink before finishing. It is moderately hardy.

Pohjola's Daughter seems to be almost as nice but much, much hardier. It seems to be new to the trade and doing best in colder climates. It is a member of a Finnish group of super hardy plants.

Rosebud has a super flower on an average plant.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2010 at 12:13PM
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collins design

Thank you!!

I actually did just buy Rosebud for the #2 spot.

Now I am trying to decide between these for the #1 spot (next to the Tina Crabapple):
Pohjohla's Daughter
Boule de Neige
Girard's Pleassant White Azalea
Wilson Rhody

I love the Wilson's foliage and it's more demure blooms.... but it's $55 for a smallish plant and I understand they may be slower-growing than the others I mentioned.

I am so torn!!!

    Bookmark   April 29, 2010 at 12:24PM
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mainegrower(Z5b ME)

I think most "evergreen" azaleas look pretty tatty in the spring, so I'd go with the rhodendrons instead of 'Girards Pleasant White'.

If you want to take a look at a much, much wider selection of Maine hardy rhododendrons than is available at most nurseries, make a trip to York's Hardy Rhododendrons in West Bath. You'll be in danger of developing a rhododendron addiction, but you'll be amazed at what's there at very reasonable prices.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2010 at 5:47AM
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collins design

Thanks, mainegrower!
I brought the Wilson home yesterday, but now I am worried it will wind up being too short. Some sources say only 24" high, and it's spot is partially behind a Holger Juniper that will get bigger than that :( I was hoping for 48" high.....
So, I will likely take it back to Skillins this morning. Maybe I will take a drive out to West Bath this weekend...

    Bookmark   April 30, 2010 at 6:04AM
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