Would love some advice on my front bed

Annette HolbrookMay 7, 2008

I have been trying to come up with a plan for the bed directly in front of my house. I ripped out the foundation plantings about 3 years ago since they were all leggy and tipping over trying to get some sunlight. The bed is about 9 feet deep and 20 feet wide and is a half oval shape. The three feet closest to the house is total shade since it is the north side of the house the remaining 5-6 feet starts the day in shade and ends up in sun by noon or so. I have a couple of ferns that are planted that my husband really likes so would like to keep them, the creeping jenny can stay or go, but I get tons of compliments on it.

Here's a pic of the whole front to get an idea of the scale, the area in question is to the left of the front stoop.

Closer pic, notice the shade line. Pic taken at about 1:30pm

View from front stoop,

Any ideas? I would like to keep low growing plants, maybe more hostas in pots? My other option would be to just put a seating area there, bench and table or something in and amongst the creeping jenny with potted plants around?

Thanks all,


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To me, that whole area, even on the street side of the sidewalk, is sort of your "foundation" planting. And, you've already done a great job with mixing things.

To me, the area you're talking about is sort of "lost" among all of the other great things. If it were me (and I'm sure others will have even better suggestions!), I'd like to see some color to really draw your eye to the door(s). (Is that a second door to the left also?)

Since you like the ferns and the creeping jenny, why not pull them up into large containers that would show them off even more? Maybe, if the containers are large enough, you could tuck in some begonias for a little extra "pop." Then, you'd have room down below them for something extra...maybe dwarf gardenia? I find that it takes more sun than a regular gardenia (others here may have had a different experience with it), and would crawl around your containers beautifully. I don't find that it grows too fast, so it won't take over and would be a nice bed for your containers.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2008 at 2:32PM
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I agree with mk87 that you've done a wonderful job with your front yard, altogether; it's beautiful! I also agree that the bed in question would be gorgeous with some color.

Annuals of course pack a big punch with color, but then you have to replace them every year. I am an impatien-holic! Every year I say I won't plant as many as the year before, but then they seem to "call" to me and I give in. Last year I mixed red impatiens and deep purple verbena in a bed around my mailbox and it worked very well. I also like white impatiens, but they seem to be hard to find lately and with your yellow house, something that would create a bit more contrast than white would be eye-catching.

Re-blooming dwarf daylilies come in an array of colors from yellow, to peach, to reds, and much more. They tend to lend a bit of color throughout the summer, although sometimes during the summer they don't bloom as prolifically as others.

Issue #77 of the Garden Gate Magazine has a gorgeous entry-way garden pictured. In it they have Lobelia in front, Japanese forest grass (I haven't been able to find that, but love it!), Wax begonia between the Japanese forest grass, and behind it, Scoth heather and Coral bells, Hosta, Spirea, and some Asiatic Lilies. I wish I could give you a link to that particular volume, but I can't find it!

In this same issue, another bed is pictured in the back and it has Creeping Jenny, Fernleaf Bleeding Heart, Bleeding Heart, Jacob's ladder, Deadnettle, Coral bells, Astilbe, Hosta...just to give you an idea of what other perennials might be good in that area.

Sorry I couldn't be of more help, but I am sure you'll get advice from the more experienced and knowledgable gardeners.

Good Luck!

    Bookmark   May 7, 2008 at 4:13PM
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bevinga -- Daylilies! Great idea. Should've thought of that one myself! :) bocron -- bevinga is right...daylilies would be a great addition to that bed, no matter what other things you add. And, I think the lower-growing varieties would be best. You could do what I suggested earlier and add the daylilies as accents, or try one of her suggestions from Garden Gate. (They usually have it at Barnes and Noble, Lowes and sometimes Kroger; if you are looking for the actual issue.) The only thing I would hesitate to plant is the Jacob's Ladder. I love that stuff, but it wilts and crumbles just as soon as it's good and warm. (ie: now...I just had two in containers to succumb to the heat) It doesn't even have to be sunny where I plant them to make them wilt. Just the warmth will do it. Some people have probably had better luck with it than I have, but it looks like your bed might get too warm for it. Maybe in your zone it would last longer than in mine though. ???

    Bookmark   May 8, 2008 at 7:41AM
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Oh great...I just planted two Jacob's Ladder plants about three weeks ago. They are in full shade, so I'm hoping they will at least be grateful for that. I've never had Jacob's Ladder...thank you for the information on the heat; I'll have to keep a close watch on them. I'm afraid we're in for another scorcher this year...Of course, every year's a scorcher in the South!


    Bookmark   May 8, 2008 at 11:45AM
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bev -- I hope yours do well! Since you are in NW Ga, you may be a LOT better off. I love Jacob's Ladder, but I think this is my final year to try it. It's too bad though, you just about can't beat that gorgeous foliage!

    Bookmark   May 8, 2008 at 12:07PM
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buford(7 NE GA)

I would add color by putting two hydrangeas on the outside of the windows and dwarf gardenias in between. You can prune the hydrangeas to keep them from getting too big and the blue color would set off the yellow of your house. I like the creeping jenny (I have a lot of it too) but would add some other flowering plant in the front. If it doesn't get too much sun impatiens would work, or if it's sunny, wave petunias.

And I know you didn't ask, but that triangle spot at the meeting of the two walks (looks like you have a juniper or some kind of evergreen there) I would put a knockout rose for color.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2008 at 8:03AM
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Thank You, mk87...with the rain we've received this past week, my Jacob's Ladder looks wonderful! I hope that somehow it becomes more established before the heat and dryness affects it.


    Bookmark   May 11, 2008 at 10:06PM
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I like the hydrangea suggestion maybe in front of the area with the railing (it's hard to tell what is there now) and the colors of the folliage of the coral bell, I like the purple one, but the others (like creme brullea (spelling) would be nice too. I have also seen some great color variation with some veggies like swiss chard added into flower beds. Bonus that you can eat them :) but the folliage is quite nice.

What about a water feature? or a bird bath? centered below the 2 windows? I think a small white wrought iron decorative cafe type table and chairs would look good there too, maybe more for looks than function? or window boxes for the color everyone is talking about? and the ferns in taller urns?

    Bookmark   May 12, 2008 at 9:55AM
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mk87...I just heard about the damage in Macon and surrounding areas. I'm glad you and your family are well, but am sorry for all the damage with which that area is dealing.

We moved here from the Columbus/Phenix City area. I haven't heard how everything was there the other night. I'm hoping everything's fine.


    Bookmark   May 14, 2008 at 9:16PM
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Bev -- Thank you. We are definitely blessed; however, it is hard to see not only so much structural damage right here at a time when the dollar is down and gas is up, but also when the mortgage situation is already so pathetic. I have been wondering how many / if any (but I'm sure there are) folks who were about to lose their mortgage anyway, have now lost the house to storm damage. Or, who were able to work out their mortgage only to lose the house to storm damage. I'm sure there will be some media stories about that connection soon.

On a lighter note, I find it interesting how so many of the young / new trees in the area just held up beautifully through the storm while large / strong ones split like toothpicks. I guess just like people, the older a tree gets, the less flexible it becomes. Still interesting though. I FULLY expected to look out on Sunday morning and see zero new crape myrtles. But, they just sort of waved at me in the wind and shook their leaves like a dog just out of a bath. :)

    Bookmark   May 15, 2008 at 6:51AM
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Bev -- Oh yeah, P.S., my Jacob's Ladder's bit the proverbial dust over the weekend. Sigh... :( I knew better...or should have.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2008 at 6:52AM
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Annette Holbrook

The big shrubby thing by the other porch is a hydrangea and the lower plant is a daphne. I didn't get around to pruning the hydrangea last year so that is why there are still dead blossoms on it.
I'm thinking I'll pull up the lower ferns and move them to another bed and leave the two tall japanese ferns, possibly moving one. The reason it looks off balance is that there used to be another daphne on next to the brick steps to match the one on the other end but it was murdered (I was very bummed).
I have an old joggling bench I may put out there for the summer and then do my new plantings in the fall.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2008 at 10:07AM
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I am new to this group just north of atlanta in cobb county and definitely an amateur - started gardening to help me quit smoking...great now im addicted to plants...what about planting lady in red hydrangea...its a lace cap - i have planted 2 in partial shaded areas and they are very healthy and stay fairly leafy all year round ..just a thought = Amy

    Bookmark   May 15, 2008 at 7:29PM
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shot(8 - GA)


No comment on the arrangement. Just wanted to say beautiful home!

Thought my mentor, esh_ga, would give his opinion, too.


    Bookmark   May 16, 2008 at 5:34AM
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sarah27(zn8 Ga)

I have a thing for purple and yellow. I don't know why but to me that color combo is so welcoming.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2008 at 3:22PM
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sarah27 -- Y'know, I never liked it until recently. I just never was a big fan of purple, until this spring when I put out some butterfly blue pincushion flower and fell completely in love. Now, I've changed my planned color scheme from red, yellow, orange and blue; to yellow, orange, purple and white. I can't get enough of it.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2008 at 10:43AM
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