beginner needs help with garden id and maintainence many pics!

ljbrandt(8)March 21, 2010

Hi y'all,

It's been a year after buying our first house in the Montgomery area and we finally have settled in enough to have time for gardening. We are trying to plan our approach to caring for our landscape (inherited from the previous owner), but both of us are (extreme) beginners and have no idea how or when to start. I think the first order of business is identifying what we actually have growing around the house! I've taken MANY pictures, so beware of the long load time. The previous owner had the yard professionally landscaped and maintained and left of a lot of goodies! Unfortunately, we are on a limited budget and would like to do all the work ourselves. With no further ado, here is what we have:

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catbird(z7 AL)

Goodness. You've given us quite an assignment. I don't know all of them, but I'll tell you the ones I can and let others chime in on the rest (or to correct my guesses). I'll try to keep track of them by the order of the pictures.

1. Yaupon holly
2. Large one in center: Ligustrum
3-4. ?? Maybe you can send pictures of leaves when there are some.
5. Ligustrum pruned up to tree form.
6-7. ? variegated ligustrum?
8. Azalea
9-11. Loropetalum rubrum
12-14. an ornamental grass expert will have to tackle those.
15-17. Cherry?
18-19. ?

  1. Crepe Myrtle? Again, need to see leaves.
  2. ?
  3. Cherry probably Kwanzan?
  4. The vine is a jasmine.
  5. Liriope ("Monkey grass")
    25-26. ?
  6. Loropetalum

I've run out of time, so hope someone else will check these and fill in the blanks.

A general comment: You've got some nice flowering things, but with the foundation shrubs, if you're not going to hire someone to maintain them, be prepared to do a LOT of pruning. Personally, I'd start replacing a lot of the shrubs with things that will be easier to maintain. When you get all these identified, you can start a new post asking for suggestions on changes to make.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2010 at 5:50PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

We might have to see different images of some of these to be sure. Here are my guess-timations:

1. Japanese holly but not sure which one
2. This looks like a Gardenia to me, perhaps with black sooty mold. Would sure like to see a close-up of some leaves.
3,4. Not sure of the tree species, but the trunk sure has lots of epicormic growth, and signs of internal disease. I'm guessing that it's not in the best of health.
5. Ligustrum, pruned (not too nicely) to tree form. You could do a much better job. For starters, remove all of the stuff coming up from the bottom. You may decide that this is the wrong shrub to have so close to the house (and eaves). Often planted on the corners, for some reason. Removal of same was the first landscaping chore that we did when we moved into our home!
6,7. This looks like one of the variegated Euonymus, to me.
8. Azalea
9,10,11. Loropetalum
12,13,14. Don't know which grass, but it needs to be cut back NOW. Cut all of the dead stuff back to the ground and let the new growth emerge.
15,16,17. Maybe a cherry? Or other ornamental fruiting something. It has been suckering from below the graft union (which you can see on the primary trunk). All of those suckers should be removed entirely, and stake should be taken out, too. You can see how the binding has been choking the life out of the main trunk. Hopefully, this tree will thrive with those two tasks accomplished.
18.Japanese Cleyera
19.Sago Palm. I expect that the hard winter did this damage, and maybe killed them outright. Are these common in that area (I wouldn't think so, but don't know that) ? The dead fronds won't come back and will have to be removed. You'll know if the plant's crown has died before too long.

  1. Yikes, a crape myrtle, but not a very pretty one! The typical crape has a beautiful 'skeleton', great bones in the winter. This one....not so much, lol!
  2. That looks like a Tea Olive (Osmanthus fragrans), to me.
  3. Looks like a cherry
  4. I'd like to see a close-up of the foliage, but it looks like a Carolina Jessamine to me. If it begins to bloom with fragrant yellow flowers soon, you'll know. Yes, I spelled that right. :-)
  5. Appears more like Ophiopogon, rather than Liriope. Ophiopogon is commonly called Mondo grass.
  6. Darned if I know what this is for sure, though I KNOW it! Might be a hydrangea? Looks like it's in a shaded part of the property, judging by the holly fern in front of it.
  7. Is this another var. Euonymus or a var. ligustrum?
  8. Loropetalum
    Bookmark   March 22, 2010 at 12:25PM
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catbird(z7 AL)

I agree with rhizo's additions/changes. My brain was too tired to come up with things like Euonymus and Cleyera, neither of which I have. ;-) I also wondered if 2 might be a gardenia and whether it might have sooty mold. Close-up pictures would help. Also, look at the undersides of the dark leaves and see if there are tiny insects covering them. That's what usually gives rise to sooty mold. I also debated about the mondo vs liriope and agree that it's probably mondo, which I like much better.

Re the crepe/crape [either is acceptable] myrtle, it's hard to tell from the picture but if the bark is as cinnamon colored as it appears it might look OK in the winter. I'd let it bloom before deciding what to do about it. They should have removed the middle trunk years ago and left one that wasn't so cramped and overlapping. There's not much way to fix that now, but the appearance would be improved by proper pruning to remove branches that grow into the center across other trunks and the ones that grow at right angles out to the sides of the tree instead of following the upward vase shape of the others.

You might want to search for some of these plants on the internet to see pictures and descriptions. You'll find a lot of information on gardenweb, but I usually search on Dave's Garden to get detailed info and pictures. [Gardenweb's new anti spam software won't let me post the link to the other site, but just make one word out of it and add a .com. ;-) ]

    Bookmark   March 22, 2010 at 2:26PM
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Here are my guesses:
1. some kind of holly
2. gardenia which probably suffered frost damage or has mold.
3-4 ?
6,7, Euonymous (Gold Splash or Emerald and Gold)-I had one of these.
9-11 Loropetalum rubrum
12-14 Probably a miscanthus-from the few beaten down flowers.
15-17 cherry? not Kwanzan which has rose-like double flwrs
18 Not sure if this is Cleyera-leaves too flat
19 Palm var. ?

  1. Crape Myrtle
    21.Osmanthus fragrans
  2. Crabapple?
  3. Carolina jessamine
  4. Ophipogon
  5. Hydrangeas (mophead?)with Holly ferns in front
  6. Euonymous
  7. Loropetalum rubrum.
    Bookmark   March 22, 2010 at 2:59PM
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Thank you guys SO much for the IDs and advice! I'm an internet research junkie and have already begun my obsessive quest to know as much about these plants as possible. Just today I took rhizo's advice about the ornamental grass and have trimmed it way back (please let me know if I need to do some more).

I'm not sure which I'll tackle next (suggestions?), but I'm very concerned about the tree being diseased!

Lastly (for now, anyway), should I go ahead and trim all the brown/yellow fronds off of the sago palms...assuming they might be alive? Right now, that would mean removing every singe frond!

    Bookmark   March 22, 2010 at 3:01PM
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john_trussville(z7b AL)

The sago "palms" (really a cycad instead of a palm) are hardy for your area & probably stay mostly green during a more typical Montgomery winter. Now that the chances for another severe cold snap hopefully have passed I'd go ahead & remove the dead fronds. Otherwise I'd advise you to still leave them on to help insulate the trunk. As long as the trunks feel solid they will be fine & should "flush" again by early June, most likely. Not sure what kind of sun exposure you have around them, but I'd definitely add some seasonal color around them to really make them stand out. Impatiens or begonias maybe.

It doesn't really matter, but I say that #24 is Liriope. Mondo is much more dense & has narrower leaves. Whichever it is, it should be weed-whacked to the TODAY. Just be careful not to whack it too close to the ground & damage the new growth emerging. This is not absolutely necessary....but I think it just looks better to get rid of last years growth.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2010 at 3:23PM
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catbird(z7 AL)

It looks as if you'd be cutting into the new growth if you trimmed the ornamental grass back any more. If so, don't. I, too, wondered if the shrubs in 25 were hydrangeas, but it looks like there are small white buds on them. Is that the case or are those just spots in the picture?

I don't know nuffin' 'bout sagos -- they're not hardy this far north.

For next steps, I'd work on these: remove the suckers and the stake from the cherry (?) tree in 15-17 and the suckers and stray top growth in 5; do some research on sooty mole and decide if that's what's making the leaves dark on the shrub in 2; when the loropetalum finishes blooming, cut the long stems way back then decide if you need to prune them all over. They may be too big for the places where they are, so you might want to consider moving or removing them this winter so you won't spend all your time fighting to keep them smaller than nature meant for them to be. They're pretty plants, so you might want to just move them to a better spot and put something smaller close to the house and deck. Look over all the flowering fruit trees and the crepe myrtle(?); remove crossing branches and any others that don't fit with the overall shape you want. Be sure always to cut back to the joint where the branch meets a larger one.

That should keep you busy for a while, but if this were my house, I'd have to begin to reshape and soften the bed lines and add lots of flowering plants. That's a matter of individual preference, but I love lots of perennials. ;-) You might want to start a new thread with a picture of the front of the house and any other areas for which you'd like to have input.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2010 at 5:52PM
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Thanks guys for all the great input! I'm gonna start with the sagos and work up to the cherry and crape myrtles...I'll start new threads for each type of plant/tree in the hopes that other beginners can learn from my before/after pictures! Here we go...!

    Bookmark   March 22, 2010 at 7:30PM
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I'll take a guess at these...

2. Gardenia
5. Waxleaf ligustrum (large plant), some type of
variegated euonymous, maybe 'Emerald & Gold' (smaller plant)
6. Variegated euonymous (as above)
8. Some type of azalea
9. Some type of loropetalum

  1. Maybe miscanthus 'Little Kitten' or pennisetum 'Little
    'Bunny' (more likely)
  2. Pittosporum (maybe 'Wheeler's Dwarf')
  3. Sago palm
  4. Some type crepe myrtle
  5. Osmanthus fragrans
  6. Osmanthus fragrant on right, Carolina jessamine on
  7. Liriope
  8. Three hydrangeas and a holly fern on the left
  9. Variegated euonymous (same as above - 'Green & Gold perhaps)
  10. Some type loropetalum
    Bookmark   March 22, 2010 at 9:42PM
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my 0.02:
agree with nelson and rhizo on all except i think #1 could be dwarf yaupon holly as it looks similar to our work building foundation plants.
those look to be hydrangeas in #25
maybe a plum in #22.
looks more like mondo than lirope in #24.
ornamental cherry in #'s 15-17
i was convinced that the hedge in #18 was japanese cleyera until nelson mentioned pittosporum. not sure now. the foliage doesn't look congested enough for pittosporum but not shiny enough for ternstroemia, so...?

    Bookmark   March 23, 2010 at 10:21AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Yes, Jeff (regarding the ternstoemia). Me, too. It's one of the plants that I would like to see another picture of. Any chance of a couple of close-ups of #18 (Japanese Cleyera), ljbrandt? Same with #1. I've wondered about that one being a Helleri. Say....does anyone think that #1 might be Abelia? All of those long little stems....

Ljbrandt, I'm going to suggest that you leave the Crape myrtle alone. It was a very bad specimen to begin with; more like a nursery cull if you ask me. It 'might' have been salvageable as a teensy weensy youngster.

However, though it is almost always suggested that crossing and rubbing branches be eliminated, I would hesitate to do so on this tree. What you'd be left with would be very awkward looking, indeed. To say nothing about how stressful the removal of that much mass is to the overall health of the tree.

I'd like to see the upper branches of this tree. Have the original owners topped it (whacked it down) at any time? If not, it might not be bad looking, after all!

Don't go crazy with your pruners! The worst thing you can do is whack things off before understanding how, when, and why...and IF something should be pruned.

For now, go ahead and remove all of the growth coming from the bottom of that Ligustrum (#5). You want to maintain a trunk just like a pretty tree. Remove any stems that have died, too. A pair of sharp hand pruners for this job. Looks like about a 5 minute project.

Same goes for that ornamental whatever-it-is. The pretty pink flowered tree you mistook for a dogwood on your photo album. ALL of those long stems coming from the base of the plant need to be removed. The wrap holding the stake to the main trunk MUST be removed. Poor little thing.

That long line of Euonymus needs to be sheared. I hate what gas powered or electric shears do to plants, and would get a good pair of long handled shears to keep on hand.

Good job on the grass! Keep us up to date on your progress! Before and after pictures are fun.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2010 at 12:26PM
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catbird(z7 AL)

rhizo_1: When you say to leave the crepe myrtle alone, do you mean to leave all the straggly small branches sticking out at right angles from the trunks? It certainly wouldn't make sense to cut back any of the trunks or large branches, but it seems to me that a bit of clean-up pruning is in order.

I'd be interested in seeing a picture when it blooms and of the whole tree structure.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2010 at 4:21PM
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You guys are the best...I'll be doing some major cleanup this weekend and show you guys before and after pictures!

Stay tuned...just need to get some hand sheers and loppers from harbor freight :-)

    Bookmark   March 23, 2010 at 4:34PM
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kandm(8b coastal alabama)

2. Gardenia
3 4 Oak tree
5 holly at bottom
8 azalea

15 17 azalea
21 sago palm
22 Crepe myrtle
23 The one on right is a camelia
24 monkey grass and fern
25 26 azalea

    Bookmark   March 24, 2010 at 12:58AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

catbird: I was just being reeeeealy conservative in regards to the pruning. Knowing that our poster is a self-proclaimed newby, I'd hate to see something lopped off when it shouldn't be.

We can't see a great deal of that Crape myrtle from the images we've been given. It appears that some 'cleaning up' might be in order, but my comments were on behalf of ljbrandt. I've seen countless woody ornamentals ruined in one fell swoop, haven't you?

ljbrandt, you know that you can email those of us who have included our email in our (MY PAGE) link, don't you? I'm sure some of would like to help.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2010 at 10:30AM
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