Need help on what to plant along walkway...

chippy(7)February 24, 2007

This post was copied from the Garden design forum. I was recommended to post here as I may be better off.... :-)

Hi All,

Spring right around the corner and trying to decide what to plant along the border of my walkway in the front of the house.

In the past, I used Vinca and other annuals. The Vinca were the best in my part as they flower from late spring all the way to the fall, nice and colorful.

The only issue I have is that I have to replant all these flowers every year and its costly and time consuming!

Can anyone recommend a perennial that will come up every year and provide nice flowering through the season? The highest I would want them to grow is around 12" or so.

I haven't really found anything that flowers for the entire summer as a perennial as the Vinca does.

I'm even willing to try 2 or 3 kinds of perennials mixed where one flowers for 2 months and then another for the next 2 months....etc, but haven't been able to really pinpoint anything like this.

The need to be able to take full sun all day as theres no shade!

Here are two shots (I can widen the beds if need be) Specifically the beds between the walkways and the lawn:

Anyway, any opinions or suggestions will be appreciated!



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girlgroupgirl(8 ATL)

Hi Chippy:
One thing you will need to do is to tell us where in zone 7 you are? East Coast, Pacific North West...that will help us help you.

You can do some gorgeous borders with low perennials. You may need to make your boarder slightly wider, but it can be done.

My first thought is perennial candytuft. It blooms now for me, but is low growing and evergreen, looks decent all year around after a quick trim after flowering. Dianthus is great, here in the Southeast, it blooms mainly in the spring, but in other areas of the country, Dianthus works hard all summer long.

There is plenty more to choose from, once we know where you are!

Welcome to the Cottage Garden forum. You will probably get more suggestions than you bargained for. Your house and garden are so cute!!


    Bookmark   February 24, 2007 at 7:01PM
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Thanks for your reply and for the compliment!

I'm in Long Island, NY zone 7. This year was like a zone 8! :-)

In the pictures I have Petunias planted last year as I wanted to try something different than the Vinca.
But my wife and I have little time as we have a little baby in the house now so its not like it used to be! Also, it got pretty expensive buying all these plants every year. I planted them all over, not just there. All over the back yard as well.

Anyway, I'm looking for something that will stand out and have bloom for most of spring to fall. Not sure what kind of perennial will do this.
I'm willing to try to mix up plants so I get different blooms at different times.

Any suggestions? :-)

    Bookmark   February 24, 2007 at 7:28PM
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I also thought first of perennial candytuft. Scabiosa butterfly blue is evergreen here and bloomed nearly all year for me, but few perennials do. Hellebore is evergreen for me and although it just blooms in earliest spring the blossoms last for months; Helleborus niger is the smallest I believe, and earliest to bloom. Another pretty low grower is geranium 'Biokovo'. It only blooms in spring, and often again in fall, but the foliage is beautiful year round. You might consider what various foliage will do for you, color wise. Lychnis coronaria forms a fuzzy grey clump that is evergreen for me and very attractive. Stokesia is another.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2007 at 7:57PM
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Chip, you have a lovely home and I think you've given us a very tall order here! :-)
You've received some good advice.

Off the top of my head I can't think of a single perennial that fits all of your criteria:
Tidy (not something that sprawls or flops)
Blooms spring to fall
Full sun
Reliably hardy AND long lived ("will come up every year")
12" high or less

Most perennials will need a good bit of attention such as cutting back, deadheading, fertilizing, dividing etc. not to mention $$$$.

Having said that, I can suggest several perennials that will tolerate full sun, that SHOULD be hardy in your zone (some are typically long lived, others will decline after a few years), and will be ABOUT 12" high. They all bloom at different times:

*Aster novibelgii
*Cranesbill geranium
*Nepeta (catmint)
*Stachys (lambs ear)
*Cushion spurge
*Daylilies (taller than 12" but some like "Happy Returns" are good rebloomers)
(most of the above perennials come in short and tall varieties, so chose carefully)

If you Google "perennials for edging" you could find lists of more low growing plants.

Also you could use:
*Miniature roses

Also there are low growing grasses such as:
*Blue fescue
*Japanese blood grass

or a low growing shrub such as
*Dwarf pomegranate

NOW, here comes my advice which is meant to save your time, your money and your sanity:
Do away with the flowers along the walk to the street and plant grass seed. Put a nice Japanese maple or some shortish tree in the lawn, that will enhance your handsome property and will provide a bit of shade to one of the windows and therefore will also shade part of the bed in front of the house, allowing you to grow some wonderful shade loving perennials. Buy some interesting perennials for the beds under the windows and in a few years when the baby is bigger and you have more time and money (though children do tend to require more of both as they grow older)you can re-establish the sidewalk bed, and by then you can use divisions of some of your own perennials to help fill the sidewalk beds.

Best of luck with your project!


    Bookmark   February 24, 2007 at 8:33PM
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One other thing to remember, Chip:

You're used to growing annuals which fill out very quickly. Perennials often take 3 years or more to reach full size.
(The "rule of thumb" is:
First year sleep
Second year creep
Third year leap)

    Bookmark   February 24, 2007 at 8:46PM
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balsam(z4/5 NB)

What a lovely house and yard, chippy. You've gotten some good advice already, but I'll add my suggestions:

Dianthus - perennial pinks come in a huge variety of colours and size, but mostly under a foot. Added bonus -they smell spicy-sweet.

Aquilegia - they are a personal weakness of mine;) They only bloom for about 3 to 4 weeks, but depending on variety the season goes from May to July here (Can. zone 4/5). Many colours, striking shapes. Some don't tolerate full sun well, but others do.

Creeping phlox - these also only bloom about 3 weeks, but are lovely when they do. They are also evergreen and form nice low mats of green the rest of the season.

Sea Pink/Thrift (Armeria) - lovely small clumps of grassy like foliage with blooms in pinks. Very hardy and tolerant of neglect - like babies;)

Alliums - onion/garlic family. These are bulbs, but they are lovely summer bloomers and hardy (last years).

Campanulas - many are shorter in stature and tolerate sun. Usually spring and summer bloom.

Perennial Geraniums - many colours, spring and summer bloom; many under a foot.

Lavender!!! - if you like lavender, it's ideal for a hot, sunny walkway! Mine thrives on neglect and less-than ideal soil. It also blooms later on in summer here.

Penstemon - another of my favs - lots of colours and sizes; hardy plants that bloom over long periods - some all summer.

Veronica - low, spreading clumps with lovely pinks, blues, purples in bloom; unique shape; tolerant of hot sun.

Those are a few I can think of off hand. My advice would be to start with two or three perennials you like and start filling in your walkways with these, but still use some annuals. That way you are guaranteed colour all summer. Build up your perennial collection each year. Keep in mind that some things will not work or you won't like, so be prepared to experiment. And don't ignore spring bulbs like daffs, tulips, and crocus! They are lovely colour early in the season when not much else is going on.

Congrats on the new baby, too:) Looks like you've got a busy summer ahead.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2007 at 9:12AM
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Thanks for all the replies, suggestions and compliments!

Ill have a better look at all the suggestions in a couple of days as Im swamped with work :-(.
Ill let all know on the decision I make. Spring cant come quick enough here! We got 2" of snow last night, but overall cant complain about this winter.

One quick question, when is the best time/average temperature to plant perennials? Or different ones vary?

Thanks again everyone!


    Bookmark   February 26, 2007 at 11:07AM
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Also, try to remember that you want it to look good when the perennials aren't blooming, so think about foliage, too. A good one to mix in might be stachys - lamb's ears, especially to highlight your gray house. Plus, the baby will probably love to feel it (nice and fuzzy), and it spreads a lot. Another good foliage perennial is alchemilla mollis - lady's mantle.

And remember, even though you don't have to plant perennials every year, they are still work. You have to deadhead, cut back, divide, etc.

And my favorite tip for gardening with babies - get a good baby carrier, esp. one you can use for back carries, like a mei tai or Ergo!

    Bookmark   February 26, 2007 at 11:18AM
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Chip -- I followed your post over from the design forum. :-)

I keep going back to look at your delightful cottage. You have so many things you can do with your yard, depending upon how "into gardening" you want to be. If you want to add some vertical interest, your walkway intersection with the sidewalk is a great candidate for an arch (to mimic your porch) arbor. With that sunlight, you could grow glorious climbing vines or roses.

Also, a cottage picket fence would be awesome for your lawn and give your baby some added safety when you're outside.

I know this isn't what you asked, just thought I'd throw that in there as your place is so very lovely!

    Bookmark   February 26, 2007 at 12:38PM
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Lisa_H OK(7)

I use blue salvia a lot in my gardens. May Night is one cultivar, but there are others that are a little bluer.

Do you have peonies? I think every garden ought to have peonies :)

Here's a picture of mine. It's a little raggedy, and it shines brightest in spring, but it will give you a little idea. I have catmint nepeta), achillea "moonbeam", a tall white iris, a crinium, veronica, "early sunrise" coreopsis (the dark gold in the back), a couple larkspur, belamcanda (blackberry lily -- the strapping folliage along the back section), autumn sage/salvia, The Fairy rose (pink, next to the house), scabiosa, and a lot more :)

This one has lavendar (beautiful, but I unfortuanately watered it to death!), catmint, autumn sage/salvia, Russian Sage, the Blackberry Lilies, white iris, and some white verbascum. I have since added a rose bush and some daylilies to this bed.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2007 at 2:26PM
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Hi All,
Ok, I went through some of them. I did get more than I thought on suggestions so Thank you all!

So far here are the ones that stand out to me:
Scabiosa Butterfly
Geranium Mix

The Dianthis appears to only come in seeds for the nurseries online. Are they sold in pots a local stores? (I will have to call and find out)
Scabiosa seems to be my favorite thus far. Do they come in different colors? Or can I mix something in red between them?
Garanium mix seems to have many different colors and is closely tied to the Scabiosa for my favorite.

These all seem they would work for me. I like colorful, so the I may turn away from the Scabiosa.

Also, do I expect any blooms this year after they are planted? Or do they need some time?

In the fall, do perennials get cut down to the ground or just remove the flowers? Or will the leaves stay?

Thanks all!

P.S. Does anyone have any experience with the "packaged" flower beds such as from Michigan bulb?
If you click on the link below, I was considering this around my lamppost, but unsure how they will grow or the quality of the plants....

Here is a link that might be useful: Michigan

    Bookmark   February 28, 2007 at 11:06AM
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Chippy: you should easily be able to find gallon pots of dianthus (make sure you get perennial, not annual) and scabiosa. Those shouldn't be more than $3.00-4.00 each (NC prices) at a big box store as those aren't exotic plants. They are tried-and-true reliable plants.

Here in NC, my dianthus 'Mountain Mist' are evergreen as are my scabiosa. I deadhead those, but I don't trim them.

There are some pink and yellow scabiosa, but those are more difficult to locate and you'd have to go to a nursery.

You may have to go to a local nursery to find the perennial geraniums (cranesbill). I don't have enough experience to address the care -- they are on my wish list, though!

Purple coneflower, lavender, silvermound artemesia and clematis are all very hardy plants and love the sun. Just check your zone, since I don't know your area. Again, those aren't exotic or rare plants, so you should be able to find gallon pots at good prices. There are many varieties of clematis, and you can get exotic and expensive on some of those.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2007 at 11:24AM
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eduarda(Z10 - Portugal)

Chip, as pointed out above, the fact that perennials do come back each year doesn't mean that they don't require work. The main difference in work towards annuals is that you won't need to replace the plants every year. But you'll still have to deadhead, cut back and divide every now and then. If your aim is to cut back on labour due to the baby, I think you are better off by using low growing cottage type shrubs, such as lavender.

There are many varieties of lavender and they are lovely bordering a walkway. They need a haircut once or twice a year but other than that they are usually care free plants, smell divine and are very cottagey. You could even plant a walkway with two or three different varieties for added interest, and interspere a couple of perennials and annuals now and then for additional color. But the bones would be the lavender. As another poster suggested, a nice picket fence and an arch covered in climbing roses would do the rest of the trick for a cottage look without a heavy burden of work.

Good luck with your project

    Bookmark   February 28, 2007 at 2:25PM
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Lisa_H OK(7)

Chip: There are two types of scabiosas, one that is an annual/short lived perennial, and then the perennial. Here is a pic from my garden of Pink Mist. This one is perennial. I have grown the annual too, I really like it, but it tends to be taller in my garden.


    Bookmark   February 28, 2007 at 3:12PM
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