What do you have next to your porch?

heatheron40July 26, 2006

Basically I'm posting this to get ideas!

I am a visual learner, so here it goes! the footprint resembles male anatomy: 2 turrets facing south with a porch seperating them and a rectangle extending to the north.....ahem, anyway I must admit I have neglected the front terribly!

I have huge butterfly bushes that are great to see from the inside of the house- the kids love watching the gold finches and butterflies, so those must stay.

When I moved in there was nothing. I've tried rose of sharon, crepe myrtle (that was moved due to space) and mock orange, good idea for smell, but too scubby looking with the butterfly bushes.

What do you have?


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meldy_nva(z6b VA)

Are the turrets as in towers, or do I need enlightment? sorry, rofl, but I can't quite make the visual connection between towers, footprint, and ...er, well, that *did* impart a vision, but it got hung up midway between the tower and the footprint...

Buddleias usually die back during winter, so how about an evergreen with berries?

Help, folks, my brain is busy laughing instead of coming up with ideas!!

    Bookmark   July 26, 2006 at 3:31PM
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Good Golly, well it was an image huh? I hope the picture shows, had to wait till DH came home- boy did he get a kick out of the description! The floorplan really does look that way, we've always giggled about it to. Especially with the turrets, they do go all the way up and have a cone on top ;). Teheeheee.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   July 26, 2006 at 5:43PM
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slubberdegulion(z7 VA)

Oddly, I understood the analogy right away. ; )

Hmmm...I have a section like your turrets in the middle of one side of the house (dining room and master bedroom), rather than in two lovely turrets. Your home is gorgeous! Outside of the dining room windows, I planted several butterfly bushes, a camellia, and an illicium. I leave the butterfly bushes alone in the winter, because even leafless they provide a little privacy.

In the open rectangles to each side, how about vines? Clematis/roses/native honeysuckle (one that doesn't spread). Or even passion flower (very invasive, but pretty). You could rig a trellis to let them fill that space, and you would still get air and light when you're on the porch. Even moonflowers/morning glory vines would be nice.

How about one of my personal favorites? Perennial sunflowers would be pretty, although they too spread.

I think Meldy's advice sounds good, a nice evergreen with berries would be appealing. Or even a small deciduous tree/shrub that produces berries. If you can get one that produces fruit/berries then you'd have even more of a bird/butterfly draw.

My front porch faces north, so most of my plants are shade lovers. Although I have had a dahlia mysteriously grow up there this year. Keep us posted!


    Bookmark   July 26, 2006 at 8:22PM
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ritadc(z7 VA)

I too am looking for shrubs to put around my porch--so thanks for your post--I have been thinking about winterberries or something with lots of red berries in the fall that looks kind of relaxed and green in the summer. Think this idea might look kind of cherry with your house as well. Although my grandmother had a house similar to yours and she had a MASSIVE and I mean MASSIVE Crape myrtle in bright pink that was fantastic right about now...however she had evergreens right next to the porch--I think they were steed hollies, then the crape was about 10 feet in front of the house on one side...anyway good luck and I'll continue reading your posts for ideas!

    Bookmark   July 26, 2006 at 10:42PM
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It's almost funny, the ideas you guys have come up with are the same I have been playing with in my mind and on paper!

Riradc, off the right corner of the porch I have been playing around with the idea of a tree, I love Crepe myrtles, but my drive is lined with them so I'm considering a Japanese maple or dogwood. The house is currently white, but we are considering painting it red. At the same time we'll unmuddle the porch (the previous owner eclosed it with glass doors a real oven even in the dead of winter). No red trees or white now. Definatley leaning towards a pink dogwood which will also help with breaking up the vertical turrets. Any other suggestions?

Kent suggested vines too. That I'll have to research. I had a beautiful wisteria (for the first 5 years that is) After that, it started pushing gutters off and I could not keep up with the what seemed like almost daily pruning! Have to have evergreens with berries too. As you can see I committed the fatal design flaw in planting all perenials around the foundation...am completely envious of the camillia :)

Thanks for all input!
Scoutting out nursery this week-end,

    Bookmark   July 27, 2006 at 7:06PM
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ritadc(z7 VA)

Heather--I bought two pink dogwood from the Arbor Society through the mail for about $3 each 3 years ago and they looked like little twigs when I planted them but today they are about 5 feet tall and bloom beautifully. My landscaper said they will get too tall to go right in front of my porch so I have moved them to the side of my front yard...so if you are on a budget I'd recommend googling the arbor society and ordering a few! Good luck with it all!

    Bookmark   July 28, 2006 at 9:22PM
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I think I'm actually over my head. I'm thinking about taking the base plans I have- the footprint of the house and barn and talking to a few Landscape people. I'll pay for the plans, but will purchase the plants as I have $$.

Good idea using the arbor society!!

    Bookmark   July 28, 2006 at 9:36PM
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Hello there, Heather! Nice to meet you, :)

I have read your post here and wonder if you have thought about a Saucer Magnolia? I have had dramatic results with Saucer Magnolia porch placement in the past. The tree is beautiful even in the fall and winter due to the branching nature it has. Add some crimson pygmy barberry and you will have a vibrant color range against the white of the house.

If you paint the house red, the magnolia and a Clematis on a trellis would be lovely and would encourage butterflies and hummers!

Jasmine is on my front porch with mostly hosta. Wisteria and clematis are dominant on the back pergola with cone flowers as foundation fillers (both pink and white). Our back gets more visits from the hummers than you would believe.

Ornamental grass would also fill in nicely and soften the lines of the house for you!

Good luck!

    Bookmark   July 31, 2006 at 10:09AM
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How do you keep the wisteria where it belongs? Mine tore off gutters!!

Are there different kinds of saucer magnolias? When I searched some were vase shaped and others had horizontal branching, is this just age or a variety?

Thank you, would never have thought of a magnolia!!

    Bookmark   July 31, 2006 at 5:55PM
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I don't know how to do the "link thingy" so I hope you can copy and paste "that monster" to get more of a clear idea on the magnolia. If you position it right the blossoms won't get hit by frost. Some are fragrant.

The wisteria I have is a rapid grower but I do keep it in check. Our deck is about six feet off the ground and the pergola is another 8 feet (so that helps). But I prune mine twice a year and weave the top through the top of the pergola. :) I'm not afraid of heights. I get on top and wack away to prevent it from running over too close to the roofline. But you could also do the "tree" form wisteria as a pretty speciman planting!! :) That would be real pretty!

    Bookmark   July 31, 2006 at 9:18PM
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juliat(z7 VA)

American wisteria (frutescens) is less aggressive than the asian varieties. Our neighbor has the asian, and we are constantly cutting it off the fence and pulling it out of our yard.

Good old laurels have nice evergreen leaves, and are not very susceptible to disease or insects. They make a good backdrop for flowering plants. Research the ultimate height carefully; you'll want one that will not stay too short (probably Otto Luyken) or grow too tall.

Another to consider is nandina, however, their leaves are a bit feathery (although pleasant and evergreen), and you'd have to purchase the non-fruiting varieties to avoid seeding a nandina farm.

Hollies come in all shapes and sizes. Don't buy American holly; they get huge. Try some meserve hollies. How old are your children? Don't get hollies (or yews) if they're young enough to eat berries despite warnings from you. Or, if there are no other hollies nearby for pollination, just get all females or all males.

Variegated hollies come in a range of sizes; they can be quite stunning. Don't buy them if they look unhealthy, though -- of course!

Consider this -- a backdrop of trimmed yews or simple laurels, with a light-colored Japanese maple weeping in front of them, or a nice dogwood. If you get a Japanese maple, find out its ultimate size and height -- some get as large as the magnolias you are considering. Others stay small, about 5' wide and tall.

If you get a dogwood, give it a good amount of room for growth -- perhaps 14' for the canopy; 10' for the roots. Buy a kousa dogwood, not a florida dogwood. Florida dogwoods (and white-flowered ones) are very prone to get anthracnose, which is all over the region. Kousas are more resistant. As a bonus, I think they're also more resistant to powdery mildew than floridas.

Hope you see this. Good luck --


    Bookmark   August 6, 2006 at 9:38PM
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So many choices!
The problem is what I would love, I can't have .... azaleas, lilacs and gardenias. :-(
They can't handle the scorching southern exposure.

We were just measuring for the tree today, I was hoping to place it 12 feet away from the porch roofline. When I'm 60, it should just begin to touch it and soften that edge! With this heat wave we'll be waiting to plant in fall no matter what we decide. Now is the time for research!

I knew about the dogwoods, but had no idea about holly berries-kids are 9 and 12. I am leaning towards hollies and a landscape designer to help. I've done O.K. on my own, but feel out of my league with the front. I.E. picked the wrong wisteria and what a costly mistake that was....!!

I'll let everyone know how things go. Will be placing a post for that next.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2006 at 5:26PM
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I have rose of sharon next to my porch--and a huge wigelia bush right in front. I really need to move the wigelia though--it needs more sun.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2006 at 11:08PM
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