Need help choosing plants for my small garden
I'm really hoping someone can point a newbie in the right direction. I moved into a new townhouse last year and the front garden needs some major TLC. My experimental gardening last year wasn't overly successful. I don't really know anything about gardening, so would love some ideas on what plants to choose. Here is some basic info about my garden space:
Location: Northern Virginia
Zone: 7 (7a on some charts; just south of 6/6b)
Direction: Faces South
Sunlight: In sun most of the day, from sunrise until about 4:30 PM
Soil: clay like
pH of soil: alkaline; pH 7-8.5
Size of space to be planted: approx. 10 ft long x 4-5 ft.
So, I'm looking for ideas of plants to look at that will thrive in those conditions. Some additional considerations/strong preferences of mine:
Evergreen: (HOA requires all foundation plants be evergreen, though not everything in the garden has to be)
Low-maintenance: I know myself, I will not tend to a garden every day or even every week. If I have a plant or two that requires weekly watering during dry spells, I could handle that, but I don't want to be watering or pruning often.
Perennial: I'd prefer to get a good looking garden of perennials so I don't have to replant every year. I plan to use pots/containers for any annuals or biennials I want.
No berries: I'd prefer plants with no berries or very few berries; I just tend to think they make a mess
Multi-season interest: I'd love a variety of plants with multi-season interest. I'm probably going to get a tree that will bloom in spring (for a different area of the yard), and I figure I'll have flowers in pots in the spring; so plants that have interest in summer and fall would be great. I do have 2 plants already that are supposed to have winter interest (one is a rhodedendron I think and the other is one of the few things I planted last year that did well...it's some form of a camellia; though both of these did not begin to bloom until late February...I thought they would bloom earlier than that).
Smallish size: Given the small confines of the space, I need plants that will stay or can be pruned to stay relatively small
Last year I planted some small evergreen things that did well (a few cypress, and some cute green and yellow thing. I'm sorry I don't know the names of all these plants for you). I planted Russian sage too which I LOVED the color and smell of, but now it is ugly and getting overgrown by some ornamental grass that I must not have completely uprooted last year).
I would absolutely love some thoughts on plants to look for that meet my many criteria. And if I'm being completely unrealistic in my desires, please let me know that too! :)
Things I've thought about: hostas, rosebushes, korean dwarf lilac, I'd probably get more of the cute green and yellow bush if I knew what it was :)
Thank you so so much in advance!!!