Suggestions for flower bed contents

nwgatreasures(7)October 12, 2008

I just removed 5 Nandina bushes from this area below my kitchen window. The ONLY sun that this area gets is about 90 minutes in the afternoon (between 4 pm and sun down). The sun comes from the direction of the top right hand corner of the picture. The middle window faces directly north so that afternoon sun is from the west and filtered through a gigantic sugar maple.

It's immediately beside my house entry that we use all the time. I'd like something that would have some interest year round. I have some Hostas that can go there but obviously they will not be green the entire year. I thought about a Mahonia (sp) but I'm really at a loss and I need to get something in this area that has a good design and will be attractive and work well with the conditions. Different layers/heights would be good too since what was there was about 4 ft tall and all one height.

Any suggestions? :)


Rome, GA

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Certainly consider using at least one dwarf gardenia ('Radicans'). Although small at purchase, it can get large enough to need occasional pruning (but it is not a chore). I would plant it about 2/3 of the way towards the front so it has room to spread naturally to the back and it should also spread over the end of the bed.

A native Christmas fern or two in the narrow area might be nice. You could mix it with a native Ebony spleenwort fern as well for a different look.

A good native evergreen ground cover (very low growing) is Mitchella repens, Partridge berry. Dark, glossy leaves, bright white star-shaped flowers and vibrant red berries.

I definitely think that initially putting several different things in there would be better than all one thing, as you said. If things don't work, pull them out and put them elsewhere and regroup - surely that is part of the fun of gardening for many of us.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2008 at 9:46PM
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OMGoodness - I LOVE Gardinias....what a fabulous idea. I didn't know they would do well in such shade.

Your ideas are wonderful and I'm going to explore those suggestions.

Hopefully, I'll have some more from here and can make a decision/purchase by the end of the week and over the weekend put everything together and in the ground.


BTW, if you are near to me (Rome) and are interested in some Lenten Rose, I will be dividing a block of it this coming weekend. The amount that I will have left over will be about 15 inches by 12 inches. I'm happy to share if you want to come and get it.

Let me see if I can find a picture of the bloom so you'll know which kind it is.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2008 at 9:31AM
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You won't get as many blooms on the gardenia as you would with more sun, but the foliage is handsome.

You might also want to look into Skimmia japonica.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2008 at 9:44AM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

I love skimmias - what beautiful plants.You need at least one male for every couple females to get a nice flower/berry display.
Don't write these off if you haven't heard of them though. They are well worth looking for and are easy, durable plants but you might not find them at the box stores.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2008 at 10:30AM
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Thanks for the continued suggestions. I don't normally shop at the box stores unless I'm looking for generic items in a pinch.

We have a specialized garden center near here that has some of the most unique and incredible plants that I could hope for. If they don't have it, they can probably get it.

I was going to say keep the ideas coming (and I welcome any suggestions) but now I'm going to have fun trying to decide. I was just fresh out of options on the ideas for almost no sun in that area and having some different height, texture and color and having it all year round.


    Bookmark   October 13, 2008 at 1:24PM
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I've got the following in full-shade areas:

Sarcoccoca (sweetbox -- evergreen and has very fragrant white flowers)

Fatsia japonica (evergreen, very tropical-looking leaves)

Colocasia (elephant ears)

Tiarella (foamflower, very pretty and flowered for ages)

Toad lillies

Pulmonaria Mrs Moon and Bertram Anderson

Dicentra (Bleeding heart)

That looks like a fun project!

    Bookmark   October 13, 2008 at 2:18PM
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Wanted to share an update:

I loved the idea of the Gardinia but after looking around at 2 local nurseries and not being able to find one, I decided to purchase a Plum Yew to put in the bed. I loved the texture, the color and leaf pattern. I've added that under the window and then the Mohonia closest to the patio. The hostas are in and I'm going to put a few more things in there too.

Lots to choose from, lots to think about...even more fun to have deciding and doing.

You guys (and gals) are great! Thanks!


    Bookmark   October 17, 2008 at 12:45PM
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The leather leaf mahonia you got does have interest year round, but I wouldn't use it in a small bed or close to a door. It's a little spikey and it hasn't got anything resembling a tidy form, plus they can get tall pretty quickly. They're better planted in a large space in a group. I've got 6 or 7 of them in a bed on the edge of the lawn just in front of the woods, full sun. They are interesting, but certainly not pretty enough to be a welcoming feature, imho. Sweetbox is a wonderful idea or maybe an encore azalea. My encores bloom in sun, shade, part shade. I've got some Autumn Embers that have been blooming their heads off for two months in mostly shade. They're still going.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2008 at 7:49PM
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