Clematis up my pillars? Pics of house

megpie77May 15, 2010

Hello. I am new to the gardening section of this site. A designer recomended I grow white clematis up my pillars (along with window boxes, new garage doors, etc). I am just lost as I have NEVER gardened before. Does anyone have any suggestions? Would this be a bad idea? I was thinking alba luxurians would be great since they are fast growing,white (which I prefer anyway) and grow 10-13 feet. Will I need to grow them on some sort of wire, or fencing wrapped around the pillars? There is soil behind the hedge but I am assuming I'd have to start them off in pots so they can get tall enough to see the sun from behind the hedge. The house faces west. The sun hits the front at about 2pm until about 7-ish (in spring and summer). I think I am in zone 8a (seattle area). I just want to pretty up our house so bad but don't know where to start!

Thanks in advance for any help!

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dublinbay z6 (KS)

I'm no expert on these matters, but I would think clems running up the classical columns would ruin the classical look. But maybe not everyone likes the classical look like I do. At any rate, I don't think alba luxurians would be a good choice. It has a rather small (and limp) flower--wouldn't it be rather invisible on those white columns?

On thing I would do is paint the front door a dark red. That color looks great against greys and provides a much warmer welcome to visitors. The dark door looks rather forbidding to me--but maybe that is just me.

I'd definitely go for new decorated garage doors with interesting windows--since the garage has such a prominent place in front.

I might take out that boring bush between the garage and front door. Instead, I'd probably plant a big sprawling rose bush and clematis running up that light pole. Stick in a few annuals for additional mid-summer color, and several mums for additional autumn color. All that color should provide a colorful contrast with the house. Just a possibility you might want to think about.

You have a great looking house. Take your time until you find ideas you feel comfortable with. I'm sure, with time, you will discover the "look" you are searching for.


    Bookmark   May 16, 2010 at 11:31AM
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buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)

That boring bush is a weeping Japanese maple that has been unfortunately, sheared. :(

I agree that a red door would really pop against that house and that vines up the columns would not necessarily be a good thing.

If it was my house, I'd ditch the high maintenance hedge and make a big sweeping bed along the front of the house and along the walkway and soften the look that way.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2010 at 12:05PM
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Thank you so much for your responses!
Kate, perhaps clematis would ruin the classic look, it's just something the designer recomended. I may repaint the door red, it just depends on what color the designer recomends for the house. Turquoise doors are in but I don't think that fits my style of house.

The designer recomended carriage style garage doors (because I like the cottage look) which is why she probably recomended climbing clematis-to tie in the look.

I too have never liked that maple, which is funny because people around here love them. It is just in the wrong place.

Growing clematis up the light fixture is a great idea. I hadn't thought of that so thank you.

Buyorsell888-I too think the maple is boring. And actually the hedge is VERY low maintenance, unlike our monstrous hedge in the back which I'd like to ditch. The small hedge just needs a little cleaning up once a year if that. But you and I are thinking a like because I did tell hubby I thought of taking it out. If I don't do that I will eventually add a bed in front of the hedge and down the walk way.

Thanks again!

Any more suggestions? Anyone?

    Bookmark   May 16, 2010 at 1:33PM
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buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)

The maple is in a horrible place and shearing didn't help it any. When properly placed and properly pruned they are outstanding.

I think hedges are boring but that is me. I'm a plant collector. I could put twenty different plants where you have one. ;) to each his own for sure.

Cottage style gardens and formal houses can be done, especially if you enclose the riots of color with tidy hedges.

Carriage doors would be cool if they are the right ones.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2010 at 2:24PM
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eden_in_me(5a Maine)

If you can put hooks or screw-eyes into the pillars, I might stretch green vinal coated fencing between the 2 pillars away from the door.

And plant a strong grower like Betty Corning nearest the door and other tall growing type 3s spaced 18-24 inches going toward the far pillar.

You might have to put up several sections of fencing to reach the top of the pillars. And when Betty really takes off, you could attach an additional fence section between the third pillar, at the top, that would be cut so it would not not obscure the door.
If there is enough space to plant without removing the hedges, some shorter growing integrifolias scrambling up them would look nice. These died to the ground in Winter so would also be low maintenance.

I meant to say plant the taller 3s behind the hedge and trim to about 5-6 inches below the top of the hedge in early Spring, cutting some stems closer to the ground for more stems to come up


    Bookmark   May 17, 2010 at 6:41AM
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soinspired(6 (Central IN))

I can see window boxes full of flowing wave petunias and greenery. I'd get rid of the all the shrubs too and plant flowering shrubs. Down the walk way in the rock garden, I'd plant some creeping phlox. Red door is an excellent idea with a beautiful wreath on it. Have fun and just love what you put in. Garden for your own pleasure! There are just so many varieties available but be sure to read the tags of information on the plants you buy and save them for reference.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2010 at 9:29AM
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You already have a nice house and I like the columns, it's the hedge along the front of the house that's causing problems. Not only are they past their prime, but the line they create visually slices the low windows in half. I think once you get rid of those you'll think your house already looks nicer. I agree about a colored door. Windows on the garage door would look nice too.

How much work you are willing to put into the planting materials should determine the plant materials. How much time are you willing to put into the maintenance? Do you like getting your hands dirty? Do you mind an achy back occasionally? Your designer should have asked you questions. I think clematis up pillars isn't the best choice for a beginner. Maybe clematis that only get about 6 feet tall. I wouldn't go any higher because they won't grow evenly and it will not look good.

Go out and cut down that maple blob right now. lol... just kidding. If it were my house it would be gone. I love the idea of a clematis growing up the lamp post.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2010 at 10:17AM
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buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)

I'd rather see a Clematis on the lamp post than the pillars myself. Not my house though. :)

    Bookmark   May 17, 2010 at 11:58AM
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virakech(z5 Ohio)

I think clematis on the pillars aren't quite formal enough to look right on such large pillars.

I don't know if climbing hydrangea would be much better. they really are a strong visual block though. Maybe hang two wroughting iron baskets from each, and large hanging baskets between each down from the roof... to fill in the spaces without growing ivy up the posts.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2010 at 6:27PM
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sandykk(z6 MD)

Lots of great suggestions here. I would definitely get rid of the hedge, too boring for me. The Maple is really too big for that space. If the hedge was removed, you could see more of the porch. If going with the cottage style, I would include some beautiful potted planters to add more color. On the right corner of the house, looking at the front, I would find an interesting evergreen, maybe Dragon Lady Holly, Alaskan Cedar, they are really weepy, many other choices. Something to soften the corner and then sweep around into a large bed for lots of color.

The smaller bed where the Maple is will give you some good planting area as well. Lots of possibilities to make it really interesting. Good Luck

    Bookmark   May 18, 2010 at 2:29PM
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Thank you again everyone! I have some questions and hope some of you will check back.
How come no one likes the laurel hedge? How come this style hedge works in my ispirational photo below? I actually like that it adds some privacy to our lower windows, without completely exposing them. I thought if I did rip it out I'd add some hydrangeas.

I do not like the maple and everyone around here thinks I'm nuts (to think that). Does anyone know the root system of this type of tree? I was wondering if I could sell it (or just get rid of it) on craigslist but was unsure about it's roots since I do have it next to a rock wall. Obviously if it is secured in the bed and in the rock I can't remove it.

Sandykk-where on the right corner, specifically, would you add a dragon lady holly or alaskan cedar?

Oh if you could all see the front of our house now! The driveway is torn up and all of the brush and trees to the LEFT (barley visible) are gone! We will be getting the driveway and new stairs poured on Monday (may 24). We are unsure what to plant to the left so mabey I'll visit another topic to get suggestions unless any of you have any!
Thanks again, I really appreciate all of your feedback!

Inspiration (sort of )

another angle of our house

    Bookmark   May 22, 2010 at 2:43PM
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mnwsgal 4 MN(4)

I also do not like the hedge, maybe because it is the same level as the house and cuts the windows. See how the hedges in your inspiration photo are set back and lower than the windows, even the porch window boxes (?) are lower.

The maple tree is too much of a mass,IMO. Is there a way it can be thinned and shaped to be more open?

Good luck on whatever you decide and please post after photos.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2010 at 5:14PM
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buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)

Someone has repeatedly sheared that maple, I hold out little hope that it could be returned to it's natural glory and it really doesn't fit there at all.

That bed is begging for something draping over the rocks to soften them.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2010 at 6:04PM
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Hello Megpie77,

You have a wonderful, but daunting, project on your hands! I found your thread and thought I'd jump in with a thought or two. I love Japanese maples, living in the Seattle area myself, but this one has got to go. They can be moved successfully, but you need to wait until fall at this point. If you can't wait, rip it out! Home Depot is selling them right now for $50, nice large specimens - plants can always be replaced, over time if your budget is limited. The rocks are begging to have plants spilling over them, as someone already commented. You should Google a website called Paghat's Garden - she is is wonderful resource for plants that grow well in the Pacific Northwest, this would be a good place to go for ideas on specific plants if you have a desire to learn.

As far as the pillars and hedge go, I can see the hedge ripped out entirely. Instead, plant a 6' deep, curved planting bed that runs from the south end of the porch to the north and curving to meet the sidewalk half way down the steps. You need perennials, shrubs and trees to soften the lines and height of the pillars!! Maybe a tall-ish Japanese Maple to offset the height of the pillars, which are nice but very stark. Also, good ideas out there to paint the front door, something warm and welcoming.

The street appeal of your home could be so wonderful with the investment of money, muscle, and time!

    Bookmark   May 25, 2010 at 1:31AM
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njmomma(z6 NJ)

Here's my 2 cents - take it or leave it. If it were my house I would def. paint the front door another color. ANY other color would be an improvement (except darker colors). I would also paint the shutters white (or replace them with white ones to compliment the columns). Way too much gray going on.

I would plant in front of the long hedge perennials and annuals so you'll have color for spring and summer and into fall.

I agree, the maple is poorly placed and has to go. A clematis up the lamp post is a good idea surrounded by low growing flowering plants either annuals or perennials.

A big pot between the two garage doors full of annuals would look great as well as digging up 18 inches of grass along the steps and walkway to plant annuals and perennials.

This house really needs the benefit of colorful flowers all around!

OH, and do what YOU think looks good and don't just blindly follow whatever your designer says. Ask for alternatives to their plan because then at least you'll have 2 things to decide between.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2010 at 3:28PM
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lori_holder(z5 MA)

There are a couple of big differences between your hedge/house and the one in your picture (which I agree - it looks dynamite there). First, the house in the pic has very different proportions from your house. It's more squared off, whereas yours is much wider than it is tall (from these pics). The windows in the inspiration house are tall and narrow, whereas yours are low and wide. The inspiration house has some fairly "busy" woodwork, while yours has a simple, clean style. The structured hedge for the inspiration house is off-setting some of that elaborate woodwork, and the length of the hedge is providing some balance to the tall, narrow look of the house. The same hedge on your house is reinforcing the low, wide structure of the house. You have a pretty structured, clean look to the house, and the structured, clean look to the hedge is making an overwhelming sense of "structure". It makes it look boxy and plain, and takes a lot of the potential character away from your (very nice) house.

Also, the others who commented that the hedge is cutting your lower windows in half horizontally are right, and that's just reinforcing this impression even more. There are a lot of things you could put in there that will complement your house's style and still give you privacy in those windows.

If this were mine, I'd want to balance the structured look of the house with a much less structured look in the lawn. You can do that if you replace the hedge (is that boxwood?) with another evergreen hedge that has a rounder, more mounded character. You can also provide balance by making a nice, deep, curving bed in the front.

I would suggest rhododendrons, or azaleas, but planted with some space in between them, not as a wall of greenery. You'd get your privacy in the windows, they'd break up the horizontal effect, they're pretty low-maintenance (as long as you get ones that are appropriately sized, and I'd suggest ones that aren't likely to get above 4 or 5 feet tall, max), and you get flowers. In front of those, I would put some nice summer-flowering perennials in. Daylilies would be nice - you don't get much lower-maintenance than a bed full of daylilies. You'd want to have several different types and plant them in drifts so that you get nice irregularly-shaped blocks of color throughout the season. Hostas would also work for you - if you want something a little "formal" looking you can front your bed with a nice edging of small-ish hostas - this can give a very finished look to a perennial bed.

I also agree about putting something in that rock wall. Creeping thyme is lovely and low-maintenance. Campanulas would soften the look really nicely too.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2010 at 11:41PM
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