How would you deal with this slope?

lschibleyApril 7, 2010

Just took a picture of it. In the foreground is a mix of mid-sized perennials. From Drop Box On the slope is very happy bearberry that I love, but it is starting to move into perennial territory. I actually like it so much, I'm thinking I should let it. It might be interesting to have a swath of plain green in the middle of the summer riot of colors. On the other hand...there is only so much real estate in the garden, right. Shouldn't I use as much space for colors as possible. I'm torn. What do you guys think? The area it is starting to creep through is right in the middle of the left border in this July photo.

From Garden070708

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Bearberry is a treasure. I'd let it spread and plant something low in front of it instead of the rudbeckia. A lot of people don't have the conditions to grow bearberry so enjoy it.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2010 at 7:32PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

I don't have any slopes on our property, so no experience at all. I do love bearberry and bought two pots of it last year to try. It was very pretty in the fall, but I'm afraid it looks only so-so this spring. A lot of dead leaves on it. So, if you have a patch of it that likes you, I would accommodate it, too. Maybe you could keep cutting out the parts that are infringing on your flowers at the bottom and move it to the top of the slope in an empty area and still keep your flowers going where they are? That could take about 5 years to fill in the whole slope that way, maybe? By then you might find you want to make changes to your planting at the base of the slope anyway. [g]

I wonder if you have considered adding heath to the slope too? I thought that they like slopes too. Also, for early spring color, maybe some small bulbs.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2010 at 5:42AM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

One more opinion: I agree with PM and Ginny - that native plant is a gift. I'm looking for something to fill in a sandy area that is an abuttal to the street and thanks to your post, I'm going to go buy bearberry. Also saw heather (pink) at HD yesterday (bloom time Dec-May, $14.98/gal) and think PM has another good idea.


    Bookmark   April 8, 2010 at 8:20AM
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ginny - I so agree that Bearberry is a treasure. My soil is sandy, lean, and acid so I guess that is what makes it happy.

prairiemoon - When I planted the bearberry I had on the slope I of course thought about it traveling up the slope instead of down, but naturally it is sending the most shoots out downward. The ones I bought 4 years ago didn't look great after the first winter, but look at them now. Be patient!

Jane -I actually do have pink heather in another part of the garden, but this bearberry is so aggressive, I think it would overrun heather shortly...

I think I need to trim it up on the bottom...let it run laterally and upwards and figure out how to highlight it. It really is so cool looking. Thanks for the thoughts all!


    Bookmark   April 8, 2010 at 9:17AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Thanks for the encouragement on the bearberry Lisa. After having seen how great yours looks and how great it spreads, I may even add a few more to speed things up. :-)

Yes, that gravity gets us think that will keep it where you want it to just keep trimming it back on the bottom.

I wonder if it attracts any wildlife?

Jane, I'm going to look for that heather at H*ome D*epot, if I ever get there. Thanks for that tip. I wanted to plant up a couple of winter pots using heather. Pink is what I would enjoy too.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2010 at 10:02AM
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runktrun(z7a MA)

Lisa your slope looks very much like my berm that is so poorly designed on one side I am still refusing to post any photos but I have noticed a few things that you might find helpful.
1. Use the slope to it's best advantage plant things that are at their best when you are looking up into them such as Styrax.
2. Dtd noted on another thread that there are some plants that are at their best when they are allowed to be lit up by the sun such as Witch-hazel (Hamamelis)
3. I do have quite a bit of heath planted at the bottom of my berm but the jury is still out. I will say in my experience in general heath and heathers are not very happy cohabitating with perennials. I did place a large order with Heathers and Heaths and they were helpful, knowledgeable, and good quality plant material I really can't say enough good things about them.

Here is a link that might be useful: Heathers and Heaths

    Bookmark   April 8, 2010 at 1:11PM
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kt - I really like the idea of planting stuff that looks good when you look up at it. I'll have to think on that.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2010 at 3:02PM
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I'd weigh the advantages of having something evergreen all year over much of the slope vs. pretty perennials for only half the year. But also consider its location. Is this a slope you see from house windows in the winter? Do you have any problems with erosion from the slope?

I've got a smaller shady slope close to the house. I'm gradually adding more small shrubs because of the winter barrenness. I also worry about getting older and losing interest in maintaining perennials and think a mixed shrub border is going to be less maintenance, as well as interesting all year. But it's a tough call. Your summer picture is sure gorgeous! That would be hard to give up.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2010 at 4:33PM
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runktrun(z7a MA)

OMG I just re-read what I wrote and I am totally embarrassed, what I thought I was expressing was... the elevation of your hill looks similar to my berm. Believe me the plantings on your slope are far more beautiful than anything I have come close to planting.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2010 at 5:52PM
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Haha KT...I almost made a remark about how courageous I was at posting photos of my own poorly designed berm. But I have seen pictures of your yard. I have no doubt that your "poorly designed berm" leave most garden spaces in the dust.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2010 at 8:38PM
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tree_oracle(z6b MA)

Even though I like perennials, I would get rid of them on your hillside and turn the whole hill into a conifer garden. It could be quite colorful if done properly. Conifers come in just about every color except red although the cones of several conifers are red. They also come in a variety of textures and shapes. The new growth of several conifers is white or yellow which sort of looks like they're blooming. The cones of several conifers are red, purple, or blue when they are young and sometimes when they are mature. The winter color of several conifers is different than the warmer month colors which can provide additional interest. You can mix in white or pink dogwoods, azaleas of just about any color, and japanese maples that have a variety of foliage and bark colors. Your bearberry would blend into this mix so there would be no need to get rid of it. Heaths and heathers would also be good additions to this mix.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2010 at 10:51PM
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Ah tree oracle. You must have noticed my Picea omorika 'Bruns' at the top of the slope. I have conifers in the garden to the right of the photo, which is a somewhat more formal section of the garden. (Although it's all relative, my 'formal' is still fairly casual to most, I imagine). Just at the right of the summer picture you can see Crypromeria japanica 'Black Dragon', which I love. So I absolutely agree with you that conifer gardens are beautiful. You have got me thinking too, a prostrate conifer might actually be able to compete with the bearberry given the right condition. Time for research.

Ooo and since you made me start thinking about conifers, hope you don't mind if I post my favorite vignette from last year. Pinus parviflora 'Hagoromo', Juniperus horizontalis 'Mother Lode', Sedum 'Purple Emperor', and Artemesia, with a Tsuga canadensis 'Moon Frost' peeking out from behind. From The Serendipitous Garden

    Bookmark   April 9, 2010 at 7:37AM
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So I am thinking Picea pungens 'Procumbens', Abies nordmanniana 'Golden Spreader', Abies procera 'Glauca Prostrata', or Pinus sylvestris 'Hillside Creeper' to be planted just below the crest of the slope just to the left of the bearberry. I know I have seen all but the Glauca Prostrata at my local nursery. The wheels are turning. Thanks so much for the inspiration all. I think I'll head to Katsura this afternoon.

So this is my plan. Trim the bearberry at the bottom, but keep the perennials right in front of it lower than they are now. Continue to encourage it to spread out and upwards. And add a spreading conifer higher on the slope to bring attention higher...get people to see beyond the splash of color at the bottom. How does that sound?


    Bookmark   April 9, 2010 at 8:09AM
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