bright shade plant for in front of a low porch?

aimeekitty(9-10, SW 18)July 14, 2010

Hey folks!

Do you have any suggestions for what I should plant in front of my porch? I have two climbing roses on the two left pillars (Madame Alfred Carriere).

Most of the plants near the front of the bed (away from the house) are roses, yarrow, nepeta and agapanthus. I'll gradually add to them, but that part is easy for me because it's full sun. I'm stumped at what to put in the shadey area to the back (near the house/porch)

If you see the purple agapanthus, the sun really only reaches to wear those end. The ground from the agapanthus up to the porch itself is mostly shaded most of the day. We get very bright sun here, though, so... it's shaded, but bright shade.

Since the porch isn't raised,... I didn't want anything TOO HIGH to block the porch completely, but it would be nice to have something there in the ground right next to the cement of the porch. Does that make sense? Maybe something that the plant-bush itself is about 3-4 feet high... but it could have wispy taller parts? Like a shadey version of an agapanthus, you know? (because the agapanthus has that tall spire with the ball, but you can see through that out...)

Even a smallish tree might be nice, something that you can see through, or stays short...

I really have no idea what I"m looking for. does anyone have any ideas? I'm very open to suggestions.

I'd prefer something drought-tolerant if possible. And we have heavy clay soil here. Zone 9-10, SW 18. basically hot/dry summers with mild winters. (sometimes a little frost)

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There are some gorgeous Impatiens out there now, other than the "standard" one's, who love shade and even a bit of sun.

Their flowers are extremely vibrant, especially if you get the melon colors.

Look up Impatiens and find the different varieties they have, I've grown three varieties so far and haven't been disappointed.

I also find that they do very good in pots too!

    Bookmark   July 14, 2010 at 5:38PM
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Before putting in flowers, put in a low hedge like boxwood or yews. I am thinking that you would want to frame the view and I'm assuming you will be putting in some climbers on both posts that will eventually meet up in the middle. or you can set up large rectangular planters and plant hedges on them. (can be any plant of the same kind)

Also, you might want to put in another evergreen hedge at the outer righthand side corner of your walk to anchor the entrance into your home. Plus select low hedging materials like santolinas to edge the smaller garden bed on the left.

I see you already have a tree and it's well positioned.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2010 at 9:27PM
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I have a similar situation in that we have windows facing the front of the house and I needed something that would stay low and evergreen which would allow me the space to add annuals/perennials/bulbs in front of them. I chose small boxwoods for this job. Our back porch presents a similar problem in that I don't want anything tall blocking the view, but something a little more substantial than my garden plants was necessary, particularly duing the winter months, so I chose a variegated serissa. I love it--it stays short and is totally carefree for me. The tiny little flowers are an added bonus to the beautiful variegated foliage.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2010 at 11:04AM
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girlgroupgirl(8 ATL)

I would research Annie's Annuals web pages and see what she recommends. The information about each plant is wonderful, and I think it would help you find plants you want that meet your climactic requirements yet retain the look you want.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2010 at 4:30PM
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Girl, what is the link to the webpage?

Boxwoods are good, but you really have to keep them pruned both on top and the sides or they'll just take over.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2010 at 5:23PM
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hosenemesis(SoCal Sunset 19 USDA 8b)

Agapanthus would do fine there, if you want to plant a drift of them. Blue Flax lily is another idea, or liriope. Dwarf Plumbago would be my choice, with flax lilies.

Impatiens are pretty, but here they must be watered every day.

There are a number of scented geraniums with lovely foliage that do not need full sun. Hellebores will grow in spots like that sometimes.

Finally, there are some ferns that are not too thirsty, like sword ferns, but they invade the whole bed.


    Bookmark   July 15, 2010 at 5:34PM
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boxwoods are not fast growers and therefore pruning comes once or twice a year. Easy to handle for any gardener.

I'd go with plumbago for flowers. These are so pretty.

one other thing: try delphiniums of blue shades

    Bookmark   July 15, 2010 at 7:07PM
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Boxwoods are slow growers in the beginning, but after a couple of years that's when they really take off and get tall and thick. I was so glad when we took some out when we remodeled. Less wasp nests & hiding places for snakes. lol.

Caladiums would be pretty also. They do need water though, but if they're in mostly shade they'll retain water pretty good. Mine get early morning and very late afternoon sun, and all shade during the day.

Talk about colorful! Here's a picture I took a week or so ago. They're right in front of my porch.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2010 at 9:29PM
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BecR(zone 9 CA 19)

Dwarf pittosporum (I think the variety i have is called 'Wheeler's Dwarf') would make a good low hedge in that location, about 2 to 2 1/2 feet tall and wide (only needs minimal yearly trimming to keep it in form). I have one around our smallfront porch for 10 yrs. now and am very pleased with it. :) Becky

    Bookmark   July 16, 2010 at 8:22PM
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aimeekitty(9-10, SW 18)

Thanks guys!

agapanthus or maybe cleome in a drift appeal to me.

What about Cala Lilies? ....
or Francoa sonchifolia?

Renee, how would you combine Dwarf Plumbago and flax lilies?

I'm definitely planning on getting some more drought-tolerant varieties impatients, but those are pretty short and I feel like I need to have a backbone in place first.

I wonder if a Japanese maple would do well...? or would it be too angry in the heat?

Yes, I have climbing roses on the pillars that will meet at the middle.

One of the trees already in place is a western redbud.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2010 at 7:53PM
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aimeekitty(9-10, SW 18)

or what about Tiarella wherryi or something like that?

    Bookmark   July 27, 2010 at 8:02PM
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holleygarden Zone 8, East Texas

Gardenias (there are dwarf ones), hydrangeas, hostas, ferns, liriope, small-sized camillias (don't know much about them but I've seen some that were pruned to 2 ft.), or a combination of the above.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2010 at 5:58PM
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aimeekitty(9-10, SW 18)

gardenias and hydrangeas are pretty heavy water...

but I like the idea of camellias.. (I could go with the prostrate kind...?) or maybe ferns...?

    Bookmark   July 29, 2010 at 9:17PM
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hosenemesis(SoCal Sunset 19 USDA 8b)

Calla lilies are wonderful. They are not drought tolerant, though. They are better than impatiens or hydrangeas in that respect, but still, they do bloom better and longer with more water. I love Green Goddess. They get quite large.

There are also a few azaleas that do very well in those conditions. I don't grow them, but my mom has them everywhere and they have a beautiful shape.

If I were to plant flax lilies with dwarf plumbago, I would get a variegated flax lily, divide it into three small clumps, and put the dwarf plumbago in the middle. It spreads, but slowly.

Japanese Maple might do well there, but they actually get quite large. The tips of their leaves burn from our alkaline water.

I have never seen either tiarella or Francoa sonchifolia grown in our zones. If you can find either at a local nursery, you might give it a whirl.

Aimee, have you considered widening your walkway a little with some brick or pavers? I wish I had done that BEFORE I planted everything. It's something to consider, anyway.


    Bookmark   July 30, 2010 at 12:48AM
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squirejohn zone4 VT

I have no idea what would be suitable in your zone but be aware of potential imapact of runoff from your roof. I tried impatiens along my porch but the runoff from the roof flattened them.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2010 at 7:13AM
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