Plants for West wall

aussiegirlinvaOctober 20, 2007

I am new to the USA and have a courtyard wall facing west. I have a long garden bed with nothing in it yet. I want to plant some kid friendly plants and maybe a vine to cover the wall. It does get very hot there in summer. Any suggestions? We have put in soil and compost so are ready to go.

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meldy_nva(z6b VA)

Hmmm... are the kids old enough to understand that just because it's growing doesn't mean it's okay to taste? Otherwise, your area is fantastic for gardening. Choose plants that are hardy from zone 5 (to get through the winter) to zone 8 (to get through the summer).

Okay, you're right that a west-facing wall is going to get plenty hot. Unless there is a tree for shade [more westerly than the wall], I'd want vines to cover as much as possible during the summer. Think trellising, since most vines do better if they have something to hold onto, and it's healthier to allow air circulation between plant and wall. If the wall is brick, invest in brick clips to hold the trellis cording or net.

Climbing roses come in long-blooming and in thornless varieties. You will likely need a sprayer to use a mild milk or baking soda solution to prevent blackspot [poisons are NOT recommended]. Clematis comes in many colors and heights, is sturdy, trouble-free, and often re-blooms. If you like to experiment, try climbing scarlet-runner beans for a change of pace [summers only].

Mid-height to tall plants could include buddleia - a marvelous draw for butterflies; an evergreen a one side would give you winter color. I'd put an elderberry to the other side for spring blossoms, summer shade and fall color (and the berries are good for jelly). Joe Pye Weed is interesting, and fairly tolerant although happier with regular water.

Rudbeckia is very tolerant of heat, and some of the varieties will start blooming in spring and keep on until fall. That's a lot of reward for little work. I also like phlox paniculata for long blooms, but same as roses, it sometimes needs the milk spray to deter blackspot.

If you want perennials, they are best planted this fall. If you are undecided, plant one or two that you like, and then spend the winter designing the bed to showcase those. Of course, being me, I'd plant lots of bulbs this fall... no matter what else, the early daffodils and tulips are wonderful for announcing spring.

Annuals do well in Virginia, and -with planning- you can have blooms from early, early spring [pansies] right through late frost [asters] and in nearly any color range that appeals.

For a fairly child-safe garden, consider planting marigolds, vine green beans, parsley, lettuces, and carrots (which make a ferny greenery that's attractive). The cole crops are edible, and kale makes a rather pretty bush. Tall sunflowers will help shade the wall. Given a head start - [plant some sunflower seeds indoors and then the sprouts outside after the soil is warm], vine beans can grow up the stalks. Little kids especially like having their own room made with sunflower walls and edged with marigolds.

If the budget is tight, I'd suggest spending funds on a simple drip irrigation system -with a timer- and then raise most plants from seed. GW has forums for many specific plants as well as the "Winter Sowing" forum, which I highly recommend.

Go over to the "New to Gardening" forum, and do a search for new beds, garden designs, favorite flowers, etc. Don't hesitate to experiment, and do keep a journal of what you planted, where, and when.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2007 at 12:32PM
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Check out Edible Landscaping in Afton, Va. They have a good website but it is also a fun place to visit. My boys were not interested in flowers, but fruit was definitely more worthy as far as they were concerned.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2007 at 11:27AM
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