What to put at the front of the garden

anita55(zone 6 NY)August 11, 2010

The Joe Pye is excellent but I should have bought a smaller kind. I also didn't realize that the cardinal flower would grow taller than the wild blue indigo which gets hidden. In the front I have the groundcover green and gold. I need something taller than that but smaller than the cardinal flowers to fill the empty space. I could use some ideas - I've been wanting milkweed or butterfly weed but would that just grow tall too? Help me!!By the way, I have been thinking about pulling out the hydrangea to the right. Would milkweed or butterfly weed fill that space?

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A. verticillata is short and thread-leaf. A. incarnata is not very tall. You would need a lot of butterfly weed plants to fill in that hydrangea space, so don't remove it, IMHO. Have you thought of some of the gentians? I have been happily surprised at some of the bottle types that have taken more than a half day of sun, with no extra water, and done quite well in the last few years.

Nice stand of Joe Pye. I lost most of mine when I cut them back one fall...and then we had an ice storm, which killed the plants since they have pithy stems. No cutting back for me in the fall anymore!!

    Bookmark   August 11, 2010 at 9:46AM
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anita55(zone 6 NY)

The hydrangea is pretty small, the round plant to the front right. Milkweed is smaller than that? I tend to always think that plants will be smaller and more manageable than they really are. Hence the 8 foot JP weed in a small garden, and the crowded other plants! Thanks for the suggestions - I will look them up.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2010 at 10:28AM
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Asclepias tuberosa is a nice height - about 2 feet tall at the most.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2010 at 8:19PM
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fatamorgana2121(Zone 5/6)

Asclepias tuberosa is a beautiful one and in bloom right now. I think the only catch is that around here I only find them growing on hillsides or in dry and relatively poor soil places. I've tried adding them to the gardens a couple of times with no luck so far.

While not a milkweed, pussytoes are a real-shorty with white everlasting blooms that might be useful in the front someplace.


    Bookmark   August 12, 2010 at 10:10AM
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anita55(zone 6 NY)

I cannot seem to find asclepias tuberosa at a nursery. They are always sold out. I'll keep trying.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2010 at 7:40AM
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fatamorgana2121(Zone 5/6)

If any grow wild nearby, their seed will be ready to collect very, very soon. Try winter-sowing some seed. Off the top of my head I'm not positive A. tuberosa needs cold-stratification but many North American wildflowers do.


    Bookmark   August 25, 2010 at 9:27AM
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I start saved seed of A. tuberosum in the house in early spring. I experimented..the seed I kept warm, moist, AND dark started very well. They are slow to germinate and slow to grow. I put them out in mid april after I hardened them off. Make sure you mark it! Mine didnt start growing well until mid July and a couple got accidently weeded. A. tuberosum needs good drainage and dont expect it to bloom until the second year. It sends out a long and unforgiving taproot/tuber. I've not succeeded in transplanting one big enough to bloom.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2010 at 9:31PM
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terrene(5b MA)

I try to group plants together that have similar culture needs, i.e. grow the wetland plants together in one bed. You are growing at least 2 wetland plants in that garden (Joe pye and Lobelia cardinalis). I would not plant Asclepias tuberosa in that spot. It is an upland plant and needs a sunny well-drained spot. Tolerates drought very well, whereas Lobelia cardinalis and Joe pye do not. My A. tuberosa is growing in dry locations such as the xeric garden in the southwest corner of the yard - near the road - where I water very little and only the toughest survive. :)

2 or 3 of the pink or white Asclepias incarnata (swamp milkweed) would look very nice there IMO - it grows 2-3 feet tall and is also a wetland plant. It's one of the more attractive milkweeds and an excellent Monarch host plant (A. tuberosa not as good). Easy to start from seed too!

    Bookmark   August 31, 2010 at 1:20PM
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anita55(zone 6 NY)

HI that's an interesting observation. I guess I chose by looks, color, and interest rather than culture needs. I also have yarrow growing right there, which I think is a drought resistant plant. We really have had long stretches of dry hot weather, and to me it seems that my little garden did fine. We have been on water restriction all summer so even the wetland plants have done without watering and look good. I'm sure it's just luck, and i wish I had enough property to make beds of different "groups" but as it is I am just trying to add things that I like. Of course, I do have failures now and then, probably because of my devil may care selections but I do think I may try to do a butterfly weed on the upper end which is a little more dry. thanks for giving me something to think about, though. Love this forum because of the thoughtful input here.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2010 at 9:22AM
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A great place to begin looking for ideas on how to landscape a front yard is in your own backyard or neighborhood. There are a couple of homes in my neighborhood that have beautiful front yards. One front yard has some large rocks stacked on top of each other and has a lot of soil with many different types of perennials, flowers and shrubs.

Here is a link that might be useful: garden design sydney

    Bookmark   September 3, 2010 at 2:26AM
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terrene(5b MA)

Hi Anita, I try to group the plants that way, but it's not a hard and fast rule. It makes it easier to water the wetland plants if they are grouped together, and I can water the xeric garden infrequently if at all. Wetland plants will generally do well in medium moisture - but do poorly in dry soil. We've had a dry summer too, no measurable rain for 6 weeks at one point and had watering restrictions. During that time one patch of Lobelia cardinalis unintentionally got neglected and was wilted over to the ground! But it perked up after I watered it (with buckets).

Another plant that might look good in your border are the Asters - New England aster can get quite tall and have scraggly legs but some of the other shorter bushier ones might look nice - maybe Aster 'Purple Dome'. Maybe you could move the hydrangea to another spot and have more room for perennials in front?

    Bookmark   September 4, 2010 at 9:20AM
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anita55(zone 6 NY)

I had put in an aster last year and it didn't make it through the winter. Maybe I will try again. I found a nursery that sells the butterfly weed and I ordered 2. I also added a black eyed susan after I took that picture. I will look for the asters as well. thanks!

    Bookmark   September 5, 2010 at 5:34PM
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joepyeweed(5b IL)

Some other short natives that you may want to try:
Mistflowers (eupatorium coelestinum) - blooms in fall
Wild Geranium (geranium maculatum) - blooms in spring.

I have both in one bed, so one is in bloom early and one is in bloom later.

I wish my cardinal flower would get that tall, it tends to get lost in a thicket of jewelweed and queen of the prairie.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2010 at 11:07PM
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A tiny addition would be coreopsis rosea about 4 inches tall with lots of tiny pink flowers. Lobelia syphilitica would be nice too with blue flowers.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2010 at 1:48PM
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One plant that I love, but dont see very often, is round headed bush clover (Lespedeza Capitata) It can get to 4 feet tall, but I havent seen it that tall ever. Plus, it is gorgeous throughout the winter months.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2010 at 7:08PM
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Ohio Spiderwort doesn't get very tall and can take sun or shade in my experience. I think Virginia Spiderwort is similar. I think Golden Alexanders is an option also (just not sure if I'm getting the name right). Heucheras aren't very tall at all and can go in the very front row.
You can get plugs of lots of plants your local nursery won't have by mail order and often at better prices.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2010 at 8:03PM
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