Removing Junipers - What to plant!?

laurell(8 - Washington)August 17, 2012

Last August I tore out the first half of the junipers that were surrounding our front yard, replanted the lawn, and got started landscaping. The threads are here http://forums2.gardenweb.com/forums/load/design/msg081041072297.html?11

http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/load/nwest/msg0800100511599.html?13

Phase 2 is set to begin next weekend and I could use some input. The removal of the junipers is pretty straight forward. I'm lucky enough to have phone lines running under the root systems of the plants to be removed so it'll be long hours with a shovel, pry bar, hand trowel, and loppers, just like last time (we had power lines running under last year's batch). The original plan was to put a grouping of 3 skinny conifers (we were thinking Alaska weeping cedar or weeping sequoia) in the far corner of the yard by the road and the neighbor's driveway and I still like that but I'm open to options. I want to avoid anything bulky or messy in that area as my neighbors that share this border with me tore out a tree that made a mess on their driveway and it seems like kind of a jerk move to put in something they'll hate.

I'd also like to put in an evergreen shrub towards the back of the yard near where their fence is, but it cannot get any wider than 10ish feet. I thought of looking into to a Ceanothus of some sort.

Interspersed with everything else I'm thinking of lavender, rosemary, succulents, thyme, and alliums. The color palette that I'm trying to stick with is blues, purples, and whites as far as anything that flowers.

I've included a couple photos of the site as it sits. I intend to remove part of the lawn closest to the junipers. Maybe put in a rain garden of some sort - though I'm not sure if rain-garden type plants can handle not getting watered regularly? We're trying to go with a mid-century feel but nothing too tropical. Also, please ignore the pumpkins/squash growing. They're just there because I didn't want to buy mulch for weed suppression before I finished the area.

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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Ceanothus 'Victoria' (probably correctly 'Skylark') is prevalent here and would fit in that space. Weeping Sierra redwood and weeping Alaska cedar would overwhelm it.

One proviso is the leaf color of a vivid yellow-green ceanothus like 'Victoria' would clash with gray-greens like rosemary etc. So you might to stick with gray-greens and other compatible shades (pretty much any other shade of green except vivid yellow-green). Maybe bronze-green 'Edward Goucher' abelia, dark green Cistus x hybridus (perhaps too broad relative to the height) or dark green 'Compactum' laurustinus. The flowers of the abelia look great with gray or silvery leaves.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2012 at 10:33PM
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laurell(8 - Washington)

Hi bboy, why do you believe that the two tree ideas that I had in mind would overwhelm the space? I purposely chose light and narrow trees that had a small footprint. I don't want something large and bushy near the street.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2012 at 11:10PM
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George Three LLC

two trees full sized trees would probably be a bit much in the long run, but you can always cut one down when they get outsized.

i do like bboys suggestion, not enough people let Ceanothus reach its full size. makes a great small tree.

i like cryptomeria. like so: http://www.portlandnursery.com/plants/trees/cryptomeria.shtml

needs just a bit of water during hot spells.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2012 at 11:52PM
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gardengal48

Laurell, I think it is all matter of personal taste :-) It is your garden so you shouldn't necessarily be swayed by someone else's opinion of what "looks good" or doesn't.

Having said that.....I think the weeping Alaska cedars might be a great accent piece/focal point. A cultivar like 'Green Arrow' has an amazingly narrow footprint, looks best in a grouping and has an acceptably reasonable mature height.

I'm not sure I'd worry about clashing foliage colors either :-) The plants you considered are so close in foliage color as to be highly unlikely to 'clash' and all manner of shades of green are seen together in nature anyway. IME, a 'Victoria' ceanothus that shows a "vivid yellow-green" foliage color is a ceanothus that is in trouble - typically the foliage is a deep, dark, kelly green....almost looking black from a distance.

What IS important - other than selecting according to your preferences - is that the plants share similar growing requirements with regards to soil, sunlight and water.

Here is a link that might be useful: GPP Chamaecyparis 'Green Arrow'

    Bookmark   August 19, 2012 at 3:16PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

I've been present for the accurate, instrument-based measuring of local Van Den Akker form of weeping Nootka cypress that were over 70' tall, with proportionate basal skirts. This is one of the extreme weeping forms prevalent on the local market, of the same ilk as 'Green Arrow' etc. Such selections are not dwarf. The parent species is a full-sized tree.

Multiple local examples of weeping Sierra redwood have developed leaning, forking shapes that spread over a pretty good patch of ground. And again, not a dwarf tree. Elsewhere in the world, where older individuals have produced the single-trunked, narrow type of growth they have reached significant heights. The parent species, of course grows hundreds of feet high.

For a specimen to not appear "too tall" (to many viewers) in a typical, constrained setting (such as yours) it should be about 1 1/2 times the width of a bed in the part of the bed that it is planted in. Naturally, where someone is trying to plant shade trees to form an overhead canopy, rather than specimens that are looked across at, seen in their entirety from a vantage point then the fact that they seem to loom high overhead is a secondary concern.

Not that people don't have shade trees cut down or topped all the time, because they were "too tall" etc.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2012 at 4:26PM
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gardengal48

Not all named cultivar forms will achieve the same size as the species or even another cultivar. And they do not have to be labeled "dwarf" to have a reduced growth - compare Thuja occidentals 'Smaragd' with 'Fastigiata'/'Pyramidalis' - one grows to 12-15', the other doubles that. 'Green Arrow' has been around long enough to determine assessment of mature height and in no way does it measure up in size and height to most other selections of Alaska weeping cypress. In fact, it is often called out specifically for small space situations, with a width limited to about 4' and a height of around 40' or less. And even that's not gonna happen in any great speed.

I'm surprised that someone familiar with conifers should not be completely understanding of this concept - it occurs with amazing regularity through virtually all genera and species. And an argument can be made for the same situation with most other plants types - the entire point of a specific cultivar is that it offers attributes or characteristics that tend to be unique.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2012 at 5:15PM
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laurell(8 - Washington)

Alright folks....
I got started. I chose a weeping lebanese cedar for the tree. I am aware that this will eventually get too large for the space. We will take it out and put something else in if we still own the home when that happens. I picked out some good perennials and bulbs to throw in the areas that should get some moisture.

I got started on my dry stream bed. Based on my reading, a solid border of larger stones isn't a natural looking bed, so I will be monkeying with different layouts of other areas, but here is one of the focal points for the feature. Input?

    Bookmark   September 1, 2012 at 12:00AM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

You might want to make it bigger, so it isn't swallowed up by the planting later.

Otherwise it looks more convincing than many efforts one sees. I'd have it come all the way down to the bottom of the slope.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2012 at 1:37AM
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laurell(8 - Washington)

Thanks bboy. I will expand it a bit. Otherwise, this is just switchback #1. It will be going all the way down the hill and meeting up with the downspout from our house and will empty into a rain garden/retention pond of sorts.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2012 at 10:10AM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Yes, I suspected it was going to get bigger anyway. If you show a photo of the cedar I can comment on that - a scarecrow habit type of Himalayan cedar has been prevalent on the market as "weeping Cedar-of-Lebanon and "weeping blue Cedar-of-Lebanon". This produces a sizable specimen also, with a tall straight trunk. I have seen numerous younger examples that could be seen to be the same introduction, that were already of some height, as well as much older, full-sized trees that, if not the same clone were definitely of the same growth type.

There is also a steel blue one that has been sold repeatedly in this market as a Cedar-of-Lebanon, with multiple planted examples around - yet looks like it is probably a Himalayan cedar - and the 'Repandens' Himalayan cedar, which has been purveyed under multiple other names. This last has green foliage and produces various irregular shapes, in the manner of the weeping Sierra redwood.

All three tend to grow into trees, although the last seems to be quite variable in stature as well as shape. Unless the smaller, more mounding ones I have seen were going to take off later.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2012 at 1:25PM
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laurell(8 - Washington)

Great! I suspected that it is not what it is marked as, I've seen much weepier photos online, but when I saw it at the nursery, I fell in love with the winding trunk and light habit of it. I have it set back far enough that it shouldn't cause problems for the neighbors even if it does get large, but presumably we will take it down by the time it gets that big if we are still living here at that time.

Sorry for no up close photos of it. The foliage is NOT the grey-green that I would be expecting a grey-green tree to have, closer to a normal old conifer green. Let me know if you need closer photos and I can snap a few tonight.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2012 at 1:35PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Yes, likely to be the recently commonly sold scarecrow-habit Himalayan cedar ('Repandens' can also produce an upright tree).

Plan on something at least as big as that Abies grandis(?) to the left and rear, in the top photo.

Over the long term, probably much bigger - ideally not placed where somebody else, farther along will just have to cut it down.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2012 at 4:35PM
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laurell(8 - Washington)

Looks like it will get big. Oh well, I liked it!

I have no problem cutting it down after enjoying watching it grow for 10 years or so. Where it's situated, it should pose no problem should it get larger other than being a big tree in the front yard, which as I'm sure you can see from the photos, is pretty darn common in my neighborhood.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2012 at 5:36PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Maybe a little more than 10' taller than it is now in 10 years. Currently crown is quite thin, probably due to poor conditions at the root. Likely to be a field soil ball surrounded by potting soil, may have been in pot too long. Should expect to be working on the roots at planting time, watering liberally afterward.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2012 at 5:39PM
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laurell(8 - Washington)

I worked the roots out when it went in the ground and put it into a hole filled with water and proceeded to water as much as the soil would take periodically over 2-3 hours. I intend to water daily for the next couple weeks.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2012 at 6:19PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Every day probably too frequent.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2012 at 10:19PM
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botann(z8 SEof Seattle)

Looks like a very good choice for that spot,.....and no overhead wires!
Like bboy said, the rock work is better than most commonly seen. I've done a lot of rock compositions over the years from walls, outcrops, waterfalls, and streams. Even screes. I usually start at the bottom with the largest, and work up.
Here's an example in my garden.
Dec. 2002

Here it is a few years later.

Note the Cedar in the upper right corner that is similar to yours.
Mike

    Bookmark   September 5, 2012 at 1:21PM
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laurell(8 - Washington)

Thanks for the input on the rock work. I had a few existing large rocks in the landscape that I wanted to leave where they were so everything went in around them. Unfortunately I started in the middle and worked my way out. I got a few more boulders and gravel yesterday and should have this finished by Saturday and putting in plants.

Here's where I'm at today. About 12 hours into it! Rock picking and stacking and digging takes a lot more time than originally expected! Oh, and the run from the gutter will be changed out hopefully next year when I put a path in to the side of the house. this is just a temporary stopgap. I will be moving the bearded irises that have barely survived in the front of the house to the margins and higher areas of the swale area along with some dwarf monarda and some black mondo grass.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 12:35PM
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