focal point sun garden

louisianagal(z7bMS)August 11, 2009

Hi all, I have an 18 ft diameter circle garden that is a focal point in my back yard. In the very center is a sundial about 3 ft high, sentimental, as it was a gift from my son, and salvaged from the wreckage of Hurricane Katrina. So I want to keep that there. I have used that circle for 2 seasons as a wildflower garden, with some success, however the garden just does not look good for a long period of time, and one wildflower has sort of bullied out the others. So...I am thinking of changing to a perennial easy-care sun garden. I've read the favorite long-blooming perennial thread which was of course very helpful. I want something not too tall becoz I have gardens behind it on a little ridge, and I have the sundial, although I guess I could raise the sundial on blocks if needed (w/i reason).

What I am thinking is 2 or 3 types of plants, here are some choices: KO roses (I love red), lantana (yellow??), daylillies (am thinking Stella or Happy Returns - my stellas do not bloom very long), dwarf crape myrtles (never tried them before), possibly herbs and/or cosmos at the edges (the ones I have don't get too tall). I think I would put daffodil bulbs in for early spring bloom and the emerging perennials would cover the dying bulb foliage. The soil is good, predominant clay but no real problem with that, and full sun for sure.

what are your thoughts? and Thanks.

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token28001(zone7b NC)

Rudbeckia. Hirta blooms early in our zone. Triloba and fulgida started blooming here about a month ago. They'll continue on til frost and don't grow very tall, yet. There are some coneflowers like Kim's Kneehigh that are shorter. Or echinacea tennesseensis, it's rather short and can tolerate the sun. I like lantana. And don't forget the spider lilies. They pop up out of nowhere and naturalize nicely. Maybe some dwarf camellias in one corner for winter blooms.

I always try to pack too much into a small space.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2009 at 12:34AM
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natal(Louisiana 8b)

I'd suggest pentas, but I think in your zone they'd be an annual.

Btw, I have the same problem with stellas. A few weeks and that's it.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2009 at 12:03PM
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christinmk z5b eastern WA

I think it sounds like a lovely area louisianagirl!

I don't live in your zone, so I will leave plant selection help to others.

I have always loved the idea of a round garden bed! I have a fairly wild and 'cottagy' sort of garden. But I have always liked the idea of making a semi-formal bed, especially if it is round. I think it would look really neat with the sundial. If it were me, I would put some edging plant around the perimiter of the circle, like boxwood or marigold. Then at the four points of the compass I would put some larger plant, like your KO roses or something. From there one could carry on with the even geometric style or put a medley of plants inbetween to tie in with the rest of the cottage gardens.
Just an idea.

Hope you show pictures!

    Bookmark   August 12, 2009 at 1:44PM
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I like the idea of the boxwood or marigolds around the perimeter. Petunias around the sundial would look very nice. Coral bells would also look good (here, the red ones take full sun) if they'll work in your zone. And of course, there's always lavender. Are you trying to attract any hummingbirds or butterflies to your garden?

    Bookmark   August 12, 2009 at 2:29PM
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How much sun does it get? It sounds like it would get a lot of sun, and therein lies the problem. I have a large flowerbed that gets sun from morning until night, and even though I put in plants that said, "full sun, 8 plus hours", it's STILL too much sun. The Petunias just hate all day sun here, especially in our unusually high heat.

If you like KO roses, you'd love the Carpet Roses. Very easy to grow, like KO's, and they're low to the ground, maybe a foot high, and they spread and bloom like crazy.

I hope someone chimes in on all day sun/heat loving plants!

    Bookmark   August 12, 2009 at 2:57PM
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We get hot summers with temperatures in the 80's and 90's in July and August and the petunias look great on the south side of the house. However, we do have a much shorter growing season, so maybe it's hard for them to have so much sun for such a long period of time. The knock out roses and small coneflowers should still do well in full sun. What about coreopsis?

It must be nice to be in Mississippi and have such a long growing season. We are basically frost free from late May through early September only, but I have relatives in South Carolina that grow beautiful gardens.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2009 at 4:08PM
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The sundial garden idea sounds wonderful.

I'm in 7b of NC and grow a full sun (10 hours a day in summer) garden.

Happy Returns daylily is now blooming for the 3rd or 4th time (I've lost count). The yellow IMHO is prettier than the gold in Stella.

Salvia 'Mystic Spires' looks fantastic with soft yellow, deep pinks and soft orange colors. Mine have been blooming nonstop for so long, the foliage is gorgeous and there are more buds forming. Hummingbirds, bees and butterflies love it. This is my first year, so I don't know how well it overwinters, but I have high hopes.

An evergreen for zone 7b are the salvia greggii varieties. There are many colors -- magenta, cherry red, bright red, deep purple, fuschia, white, etc. They have a shrub-like habit that reaches around 3' for most of them. I am very fond of 'Dark Dancer'. Hummingbirds love them.

Salvia guaranitica 'Black & Blue' is a large-leaved variety that takes slightly more moisture, but is still in full sun all the time in my garden. This is THE favorite for our hummingbirds, so we have 15 of these!

I love gaillardia 'Golden Goblin' which is a soft yellow blanket flower. Just make sure you buy it in bloom, or you may end up with the standard gold/burgundy ones.

Gaillardia 'Tizzy' is an orange, but it is an incredibly great blooming plant with interesting petals. This is my first year with these, but blanket flower usually returns for me.

Coreopsis 'Redshift' is a fantastic, upright coreopsis with abundant blooms. It is pale yellow with a deep red center that coordinates perfectly with Gaillardia 'Burgundy'. I plan to eventually put this pair with the salvia 'mystic spires'.

Nepeta 'Walkers Low' is my "go to" plant for frilly foliage and blue-lavender blooms. You only need one. You can divide it every year.

Perennial heliotrope (now a Southern Living plant and is carried by Lowe's) is my "go to" edging plant/ground cover. It blooms all the time until frost and nothing bothers it. Another great bee and butterfly plant. Again, you only need one of these to cover 5 feet and can take cuttings in the future.

I'm also a big fan of agastache. Just pick a color and size that you like for your zone. I find the small-leaved foliage (rupestris) with tubular flowers look better for a longer time than the larger-leaved, bottle-brush flowers such as 'blue fortune'. I'm trying 'Summer Sky' this year and do hope it returns as it is shorter and looks a lot like spires of salvia. Another hummingbird favorite.

Verbena bonariensis is my favorite skinny plant to tuck in. It can grow over 4' tall, but you can keep cutting it and it will keep on blooming, only getting bushier. A goldfinch, butterfly and bee magnet. Will reseed, but I like it so much that I help it reseed by scattering it.

Shrub crape myrtles can take 3 years to give you great blooms, but I love them. I have a 'White chocolate' with burgundy foliage and white blooms. It would look great beside a Knock Out rose (I have 'Radrazz' but can't put the roses outside my fence because of deer).

I also use spirea 'neon flash' with the salvia 'dark dancer', pink muhly grass, echinacea 'prairies splendor' and monarda 'blue stockings' and 'raspberry wine'. Monarda takes more moisture than the others.

Dianthus (Cottage Pinks) are in full sun, in a harsh spot in my garden, too.

Finally, zinnias love full sun. I am growing the tall varieties with the tall salvia 'black & blue' and the shorter salvia 'mystic spires'. I like 'Purple Prince' with the salvias.

For fall blooms, look into sedums such as 'Great Expectations', 'Purple Emperor' and 'Bekka'. I have these and love them.

I like the annual purple fountain grass with the salvias, zinnias and sedums.

Mums do well in my garden, too. I keep them pinched back until July 4th. Right now, mine are beautifully mounded and loaded with buds. I saw the first bloom today. I like them with my sedums.

If you want some herbs, lavender, rosemary, thyme and oregano will work, too.

For spring bulbs, I use daffodils, spanish bluebells and Dutch irises.


Here is a link that might be useful: my gardening blog

    Bookmark   August 12, 2009 at 9:02PM
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Lavendar, yes I attract hummers and butterflies. My yard is "certified" wildlife attractive, I grow host plants, have tons of feeders etc. Should have no problem welcoming them. But I have never had success growing coral bells! Coreopsis is the wildflower that took over all the other ones. I think it is common tickseed coreopsis, a Mississippi native. So I am reluctant to put more of that in. Yes, I do love a long growing season, we are frost free here in north MS about early, mid April thru 1st of November. But I'm from zone 9b and I think this 7b season is too short!
Oakley, the site gets ALL DAY sun, from sunup to sundown, I don't think it's ever in shade at all. I have 2 roses that i swear are carpet roses, I've saved the tags and will have to check. They are an apricot color very pretty, BUT they are always full of black spot and yellowy looking. I don't spray and go organic, so I am just now thinking of chucking them, but they are in a spot that gets only morning sun, so perhaps that is their trouble. Maybe I'll move them.
Whoa, Cameron, how do you do it? Ya'll have given me some great ideas, and I'll need to do some research becoz I'm not familiar with all the cultivars ya'll named.
Do ya'll think this would be a good fall project becoz no way I could do it in the heat. Whatever I don't finish I can finish in spring. I'll have to put the bulbs in fall, and make sure I label them. Thanks so much, and I'll check back for any more comments or ideas.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2009 at 12:25AM
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Laurie - my favorite time to plant hardy perennials is September. The garden bed that I planted last September already looks like it's been around for years. The roots have time to establish during the winter dormancy. I don't like to plant half hardy types in the fall. I save those for spring planting.


    Bookmark   August 13, 2009 at 10:25PM
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Just when I think, and say to myself and my husband, "I'm done making new beds for awhile," I come up with another garden. I just can't shake that urge to plant and beautify my little piece of the world!

    Bookmark   August 13, 2009 at 11:22PM
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ajpa(z6 se PA)

Drift roses would be another choice, instead of or along with KOs. They are short and spreading. I got peach drift this year and love it very much. Next year I hope to find coral drift.

Lantanas are a good idea, so many color choices!

How about strawflowers? (Helichrysum bracteatum )
Annual but reseeds.

Here is a link that might be useful: drift roses

    Bookmark   August 15, 2009 at 2:54PM
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oceanna(7 WWA)

Ajpa, those drift roses are really pretty and a cool size. It says they are winter hardy to zone 5... does that mean if you're a higher number zone they will die in the winter?

    Bookmark   August 16, 2009 at 2:44AM
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ajpa(z6 se PA)

Hi Oceanna. It means if you are in a lower number zone (4,3,2,1) they will die in winter.

They'll be fine in zones 5 and above, although it always helps to ask around locally if a rose does well in your location. Some roses do well in some regions and not others, even if they are in the same zone, because the climate is different.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2009 at 10:25AM
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oceanna(7 WWA)

Thanks, Ajpa! :o)

    Bookmark   August 22, 2009 at 1:03AM
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