from ucla to univ. ky

toddscv(KY 5/6?)December 15, 2006

I am glad to have found this forum. I will be moving from Los Angeles to Lexington, KY in late February. I love gardening, but know very little about the Ohio Valley climate.

I would appreciate any suggestions of top performing perennials, and disease resistant roses for the sunny front yard. Our new back yard has large established pines and oaks, is there anything of interest that can be planted in their shade?

Thanks for your help. I'm looking forward to a grand adventure.


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Chemocurl zn5b/6a Indiana(zone 5/6)

Welcome to The Great Ohio Valley!

Hostas and Hydrandgeas come to mind first.

Hopefully you can make a local Spring swap. Last year was my first, and I'll be a regular so long as there is one.

I look forward to meeting you.

I just read your member page. Will you be teaching at the University?


    Bookmark   December 15, 2006 at 2:54PM
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I second the hostas, but you can also do astilbes (but you'll have to make sure they stay watered in our dry Augusts), Tricertis hirta (many varieties), epimedium (three different main types, yellow, red, and white flowered), the many small spring bulbs--especially chionidoxa and my favorite scilla sciberica. Don't forget to consider some woodland plants such as jack-in-the-pulpits, dutchman's breeches, (and bleeding heart, exemia or Korean bloom all summer), trillium, and may apple. You can also think about the hellebores. Oh! And another must have is the Japanese wood grass, hakonechloa (I think I spelled it properly, but probably not). Also, black mondo grass and liriope (Lear-I-O-pea)--especially the variagated sorts. I also like cimicifuga for the shade, but again, it takes more water in our dry parts. Cimicifuga Hillside black beauty is a large wonderfully dark foliaged one, but you can also try Black negligee, James Crompton and Brunette.

And for heavens sake, don't forget the large number and variety of ferns! Ostrich, Japanese painted fern, maidenhair fern...oooh lots of yummy ones!

Yah..I used to have deep shade gardens, and now I'm in full sun!

As far as roses, you have a great deal to work with. The knock-outs (which come in several colors now) are real work horses and bloom from June to fall. Other good ones which are relatively free of care are plants developed by David Austin. He matches ease of growing with old rose scent and form. I planted LOTS last year--over 25 mixed--Austins, hybrid teas, species roses (such as pomifera and glauca) and lots more.

I've found that dianthus and lilacs love the soil and the climate here.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2006 at 8:31PM
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kydaylilylady(z6 KY)

If you have six hours of daylight in your yard daylilies will do wonderfully. You'll love peonies in Lexington and iris are great bloomers. Hosta, foam flowers, Siberian iris, sedum, grasses, hardy geranium, Solomon's seal, the list is endless. There are several wonderful nurseries that carry the not so ordinary plants. What part of Lexington are you going to call home?


    Bookmark   December 27, 2006 at 2:20PM
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gdionelli(z6 WV)

I second michigoose's recommendations for shade plants. Also add columbines, heucheras, primroses and great blue lobelia.

For sun you can't go wrong with daylilies and iris (I have siberian, bearded, and reticulata -- haven't had much luck w/Japanese.)

Knockout roses are great. I've also enjoyed miniatures which have good resistance to black spot (summers can be humid!) Sweet Diana and Cinderella have been continual bloomers for me, with no sign of disease.

Among the bulbs that work for me - daffodils are just about foolproof, tulips do pretty well if I protect them from squirrels, lilies and hyacinths I just have to put in well-drained spots, and snowdrops bloom off & on all winter.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2007 at 6:13PM
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tibs(5/6 OH)

Get the book Gardening in the Lower Midwest. I forget the auther but I think she wrote for the Louisville paper.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2007 at 6:45PM
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picea(6A Cinci- Oh)

Hi Todd,

If the back of the property has High shade with a little direct sunlight I have grown variegated kousa dogwoods with good success. Wolfeyes is a very nice selection that stands out with a dark backdrop of mature trees. One thing you will need to get use to is humidity. As far as roses go I have had good luck with the Knockouts, the Fairy, Carefree Sunshine, Belinda's Dream and Quietness. The last 2 I have only had since summer thought. David

    Bookmark   January 1, 2007 at 9:02PM
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toddscv(KY 5/6?)

Wow what a response. Thank you for all your advice. I love this forum.

Sue, I love hydrandgeas. I will certainly try them. I will be working for the Univ. KY Medical Center.

Michigoose, what a great list. Thank you, many plants that I have never heard of, and can't wait to try.

Janet, I adore peonies. I'm glad to hear they do well in Lexington. I can't grow them in Los Angeles. I may hit you up later for nursery suggestions. I will be moving to a new developement called Still Meadows (S.E. Lexington).

Tibs, thanks for the book suggestion. I much prefer region specific gardening books.

Gdionellie, I will certainly look into Sweet Dream and Cinderella roses.

Picea, I would love to try dogwoods, again something I can't grow in California, but have always greatly admired.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2007 at 10:57AM
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Chemocurl zn5b/6a Indiana(zone 5/6)

Todd, there is a thread started yesterday to set the date for the annual Spring Louisville swap.

Maybe you can make it. Lexington is not all that far from Louisville KY, and last year (my first), a great time was had by all.

Hope you can make it. Check my list to see if there is anything of interest I could bring you. It is fairly up to date, though things are not all 'awake' yet this spring.


    Bookmark   March 10, 2007 at 11:09PM
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Welcome to KY!

As far as nurseries go, the best place "in town" are the sunshine grow shops, although they can be a bit spendy. They are run by a former UK horticulture prof.

If you're willing to drive a bit, Wilson nursery in Frankfort has an AWESOME selection, and great healthy plants. It is fairly easy to find, and is only about a 25 min. drive from downtown Lex.

You should try to come to the L'ville plant swap in May/June. I will be coming from Midway, which is close to Lex, so maybe we could carpool. I was thinking about hosting a Lex plant swap, actually, but since I didn't wintersow this year, I'm not sure that I'd have many plants to swap. If I get organized enough, though, I'll let you know.

In the meantime, I have some small roses that one of my neighbors dug up and left on my porch yesterday. I think they're red knock-out roses (I don't know which neighbor they came from, but most of my neighbors have red knock-outs). If you want them, I'd be happy to give them to you. I don't have anywhere to put them! I can also give you ferns, Lily-of-the-Valley, and hostas (unnamed).


    Bookmark   March 12, 2007 at 9:19AM
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chasinlex(zone 6/7)

Hey do you like Lexington? I'm a born and bred Lexingtonian. You will do very well with zone 6 plants such as Nandina, japonica, muhly grass, crape myrtles, southern magnolias etc. I shop at Redmonds garden center on N'ville road and Springhouse Gardens out Harrodsburg Rd. Go Blue!

    Bookmark   March 16, 2007 at 10:55PM
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Chemocurl zn5b/6a Indiana(zone 5/6)

It looks like Todd left the building Jan 2nd. He was moving late Feb...maybe he's still getting moved, unpacked and settled in.

Yoe Todd!
Didja get moved? Are there unknown 'things' coming up on the property yet? I'd imagine there would be at least some.


    Bookmark   March 17, 2007 at 8:01AM
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toddscv(KY 5/6?)

Hey all,

Thanks for the advice on plants and nurseries. We like Lexington. Everyone has been very friendly. I've been so busy with the new job I haven't had time to think about gardening.

Our builder did more with landscaping than I expected. It looks like we will have a couple of flowering trees in the front yard. One has bark that is very cherry like.

I brought a couple of my favorite roses with me from CA. They had already started to break dormancy when I thrust them into half frozen Lexington soil. I hope they survive.

Speaking of soil. Mine seems to have a rather high clay content. Is that typical? Well, I'm look forward to spring, and the opportunity to use all your good advice.


    Bookmark   March 19, 2007 at 7:40AM
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kydaylilylady(z6 KY)

Kentucky soil varies in clay content. I suspect your builder really helped you out there by scraping and shoving until he mixed your subsoil with your topsoil. Hopefully you aren't seeing any layers of that nice thick gooey yellow stuff. About the only thing you can do with that stuff is send it to Berea or Bybee for pottery! Otherwise, you can amend with the usual compost, manure etc. until the soil is in the condition you desire.

BTW, if you get the Herald-Leader on Saturday's check the "Diggin In" column regularly. They usually list a lot of plant society sales and gardening stuff going on in and around Lexington. The Shelby County Master Gardeners will be having their plant sale on April 28th at the fairgrounds in Shelbyville.


    Bookmark   March 19, 2007 at 8:10AM
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alanrocks(z6 KY)

If you have a sizable shady back yard, I suggest visiting Shooting Star Nursery in nearby Georgetown. They are a nationally renown native plant nursery and propogate their own stock. There are woodland plants for all seasons - spring is the best. Trillium, Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Columbine, Trout Lily, Fire Pink, Shooting Star... the list goes on and on. I just got their catalog last week.

Clay soil is common through the state, except perhaps in the coal fields which can have a more sandy texture. You may want to check how fast your soil drains. Among my more robust plants include Kniphofia, Salvia, Aquilegia, Iris, Coreopsis, Rudbeckia, Echinacea, and Hibiscus. And bulbs... you can do great with bulbs! My own garden has over 150 types of flowers!

Alan (in Louisville)

    Bookmark   March 19, 2007 at 8:51PM
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If you want to try to amend your soil, there's a company called Creech in Lex that sells compost, mulch, and a mix of compost/mulch that is really good stuff. I use the mix as a mulch, and then the compost breaks down over the summer and the worms mix it into the soil. They make their compost out of what comes out of the stalls on the horse farms around the area.

Their phone number is 293-6658. They will deliver, but there's a 3 cubic yard (Bobcat shovel full) minimum. Or you can pick it up with a trailer or p/u truck directly from them on Manchester/Old Frankfort (I think it's about $35/cubic yard).

Most builders had been planting Bradford Pears in front yards around Lex, but recently they've been banned, so it's a toss-up as to what yours is.


    Bookmark   March 20, 2007 at 3:01PM
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todd, just wanted to say welcome to ky! I used to live on Landfair Avenue so I definitely understand the difference of living by UCLA vs. KY.

I am learning how to garden here, too, so thanks for posting this thread. It gave me lots of good info!

    Bookmark   March 28, 2007 at 1:51PM
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bencjedi(6 - Central Kentucky)

Welcome to Ky! I'm a relatively new Winchester-ite and had lived in Lexington for 10 years. Unfortunately my yard has the icky yellow clayey goo soil described by kydaylilylady. I have been digging it out of a 23-foot long bed for berry plants all week.

I did some research for our area and your BEST bang for the buck in compost and mulch (and a mix or topsoil too) is a composting business called Con Robinson just west of downtown Lexington. I went there today during my lunch hour and had them fill up the 8-foot bed of my truck with mulch and compost. It's only $8 per cubic YARD, so 2 cubic yards ($16) will completely fill the back of a full size pickup.

They were very friendly and extremely fast about loading me up. The compost and mulch quality is phenominal. They make the compost with cow manure from the area. It doesn't smell too bad. I did shovel it all out my truck to my veggie garden tonight (temporarily) so I can move it around into my berry bed this weekend.

Just thought I would mention an excellant local mulch, compost, topsoil and mix dealer in our area. 5 stars! Now I wish I hadn't spent that $25 at Wal-Mart for such a meager amount of mulch and compost. It would have better been spent on a wheelbarrow to haul the stuff from Con Robinson.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2007 at 11:43PM
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toddscv(KY 5/6?)


Thank you, thank you, for the Con Robinson tip! I picked up a cubic yard of their topsoil compost mix for the flower bed I'm building. $10 nearly filled the 6ft bed of my pickup.

I'll never go anywhere else for soil or amendments.


    Bookmark   May 30, 2007 at 2:07PM
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bencjedi(6 - Central Kentucky)

Todd, you are very welcome. This year was my first experience with them (and mulch and compost too). It's actually made with horse manure (oops). I tell ya.. the worms LOVE IT! A trowel stabbed in my beds yield AT LEAST 3 worms (really fat ones too). Amazing! Here's a couple photos from Sunday as my plants thrive in it!

I'll definitely buy more next year, but may have a project lined up this summer and the mix you bought would be perfect I think to add a retaining wall and flower bed on the side of my house. I think you will be very pleased with your flowers growing in this stuff. :)

    Bookmark   June 4, 2007 at 10:17PM
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bencjedi(6 - Central Kentucky)

Ok.. one more

    Bookmark   June 4, 2007 at 10:21PM
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bencjedi(6 - Central Kentucky)

I couldn't resist adding a cattle panel arch trellis and raised bed to my backyard the last few days, so I made a trip to Con Robinson again this morning. This time I purchased the $10 compost/topsoil mix. The consistency is similar to the bare compost they sell, but I noticed unlike the compost and mulch piles, the facility isn't running a continuous sprinkle of water on the mix pile to deter fires. I think the mix is less combustible, which is fine because the only place to store any extra is underneath my patio deck in the back of the house. I really like the mix. I'll try to get some new pictures showing what I've constructed the last few days. I'm very excited about it all. The folks at Con Robinson were very friendly. I'm going to keep recommending them. Just say no to mainstream compost-in-a-bag! Just think, your mix may be a result of Street Sense or other worthy Kentucky world-renowned race horses!

    Bookmark   June 13, 2007 at 11:17PM
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