Need ideas for pathetic garden beds!

pureguavaMarch 2, 2014

I desperately need suggestions as a new home owner and gardening newbie to up the curb appeal of my front beds. Currently there are a few peonies and some grasses and that's about it. I would like to have a mix of perennials that are low maintenance and provide year-round interest (especially winter!). Nothing that grows too tall or out of control, but covering the bottom windows would be good. The house is south facing but there is a tree that provides some shade so these would not be full sun for part of the year when tree has leaves. Any suggestions greatly appreciated!

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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

Hi Guava,

Were you there last summer when things were growing? Peonies get big, and stay bushy (and nice looking) all summer, so how many are there? There may not be that much room for other things. And what kinds of ornamental grasses? They, at least many of them, get BIG too. Ornamental grasses are some of the best winter interest plants, so was yours cut down before you moved in, or is it too short/small yet to be seen in the pic? If you like grasses, I think one of the tall (5-7') Miscanthus varieties would look great on the corner just left of the gutter. Unless your tree is so big it doesn't get enough sun, it should grow well there and look good all summer and winter--but not for a month or so when you cut it down in spring until it gets going again!

Would really need to have a fairly good idea of how many hours of direct sun the spot gets to be making very realistic suggestions. There are lots and lots of possibilities, but there's no point in paying for and putting in things that might not work and then having them not grow or look very good and having to take them back out again. If there's not enough sun, most of the truly xeric things probably wouldn't do well. I learned that the hard way! (and the peonies aren't xeric anyway)

With several hours of sun, Shasta Daisies, Chrysanthemum maximum, should do well. 'Becky' is the best tall Shasta, IMO.

German Iris should do well with at least 5 hours of direct sun. The kind of thing you could get hooked on!

This is Peachleaf Bellflower, Campanula persicifolia. It doesn't need full sun. comes in white too!

No winter interest in any of those!

Peonies need a lot of direct sun! Are they doing well? (If you know!)

Blue Fescue, just to the right of the Campanula, in mid summer, is a great year-round short grass! Since it's short it doesn't even seem to get too mashed down by snow--usually!

For some VERY short winter interest, get some hen & chicks. I LOVE them. SO many different colors, sizes and leaf shapes. They have their best color in late spring, tho this year mine are already coloring up nicely! Check out the link below for some pics!

And this one just because I happen to be thinking about it since I loaded some pics into Picasa earlier today! It's October Daphne, Sedum sieboldii. This pic was taken November 3, 2013 when it was still blooming. Over summer It's a charming little "circle" of coin-like leaves, it blooms late, and then both the leaves and flowers tan as it goes dormant and (if the winter's right) it maintains it's shape for much of the winter. This year was perfect and it finally got beat up enough that I just chopped it all off about a week ago. Now the new little rosettes are already forming for the "charming little circle" this summer!

I can make lots more recommendations for different heights, forms, and colors, but it would help a LOT if I/we had a better idea of how many hours of sun.

Gotta go! Last episode of Downton Abbey (rerun from last week!) is on, and I'm trying to keep from going into withdrawal for this week yet!


Here is a link that might be useful: Hen & Chicks Addiction!

    Bookmark   March 2, 2014 at 9:22PM
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Do you find your campanula persicifolia reseeding everywhere? I swore I'd never plant a campanula again, but they are so beautiful!

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 10:55AM
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Thanks Skybird for the awesome suggestions!

How did you add all those pictures to your post? I have some pictures but could only upload one to this post (the tree in the fall- not sure what kind it is?).

The front of the house faces south so besides some shade in the summer/fall when tree has leaves I would think 6-8 hours, as there is sun streaming in those windows nearly all day. I can't remember how much the tree shades those beds in the summer/fall though.

The peonies and grasses were looking nice in the spring when we moved in. The thing is I had no idea what I was doing so I didn't deadhead or cut down grass or anything so I don't know what will return this season. There is also a lovely wild rose at the front near the street (once again no idea how to care for this although I am trying to learn!)

I don't mind doing a little pruning but I will have a huge veggie garden out back so most of my time will be spent there. So the priorities are low-maintenance and all season interest. A mix of some high and low would be good- maybe evergreens in the mix? I just don't want it to be all dead November-April. I'm probably only interested in perennials as for now I don't want to have to replant each spring. I wouldn't mind doing some easy bulbs in the future but for now want to keep things simple :-) Thanks for your help!

    Bookmark   March 16, 2014 at 4:09PM
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