Is there a narrow tree that's shorter than 10 feet?

msroseJanuary 21, 2011

I don't even know if we can grow Arborvitae in Texas, but I saw one in a garden catlog and that's what came to mind. I was thinking about putting something kind of tall and narrow in this spot. The middle of the wall is 9.5 feet. Is there anything that fits those requirements?

Laurie

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rock_oak_deer(8b TX)

A sky pencil holly would look great there.

I had an arborvitae by the front door when we lived in Virginia and would not recommend it. It's not that pretty, gets very wide at the bottom and constantly needs trimmed back. It faced west and in the summer there were a lot of brown areas to cut out where the sun hit so I don't think it would like Texas much. One summer it was infested with bagworms and had to be treated. Not worth the trouble.

Here is a link that might be useful: Sky pencil

    Bookmark   January 23, 2011 at 11:28AM
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debndal(8a DFW, TX)

I can't really tell how wide that area is, but if it gets the right light (morning sun, afternoon shade) I would consider a camellia like Yuletide. Evergreen, slow growing, fairly upright. Nice and cheery by the door and blooms in Nov - Dec

    Bookmark   January 25, 2011 at 10:19AM
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cynthianovak

I agree about camellias. Love the foliage of the sasanquas like Yuletide. You can get some larger plants and it will take them many years to outgrow your space....if ever.

But what about a Japanese Maple like Waterfall?

    Bookmark   January 25, 2011 at 3:40PM
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msrose

What I wouldn't give to have a camelia or japanese maple there. Unfortunately, this is the west side of my house, so it gets morning shade and afternoon sun.

Laurie

    Bookmark   January 25, 2011 at 5:51PM
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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

How about a rose or other vine on a free standing arbor structure. The space is so narrow.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2011 at 9:47PM
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carrie751(z7/8 TX)

That would be my suggestion also...........perhaps even an evergreen passi would look nice and you could keep it trimmed so as to not obstruct your walking space.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2011 at 11:13PM
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debndal(8a DFW, TX)

Overused I know, but a fruiting nandina would do well there. There's a good reason why they are overused, they are perfect for narrow spaces. I'd be afraid of a rose that close to the walk - be trimming alot I suspect. Maybe plant a tree out in the yard that would provide light shade to that spot in the afternoon so you could have a camelia or japanese maple. Not an immediate solution tho.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2011 at 1:30PM
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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

If the rose had long canes on coud train it to the arbor. I HATE NANDINA. They are making it into wildspaces in Urban parks, carried bt birdies. Clematis or crossvine would be nice .Many vines would do well in that space. Queen Ann'e lace vine, butterfly vine

    Bookmark   January 26, 2011 at 8:14PM
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msrose

Carrie - What is an evergreen passi? I did a search for it but didn't come up with anything.

debndal - Do you think the nandina would be tall enough. The only nandinas I've had were kind of short.

I've seen some trees/shrubs that I think would work, all though they're probably nothing special, but I don't know what they're called. They kind of look like a skinny Christmas tree. Do you know what that would be and if it would stay shorter than 10 feet?

Laurie

    Bookmark   January 26, 2011 at 8:55PM
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cynthianovak

Carrie did you mean a passionflower that stays evergreen like caerulea? I love the foliage and mine is green right now.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2011 at 10:05PM
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carrie751(z7/8 TX)

Yes, I have only two ........Blue Crown and Constance Eliot, but they have proven to be real winners for me. I have them on a lattice trellis, and they are really pretty, even at this time of the year when they are still green,

    Bookmark   January 26, 2011 at 10:12PM
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weldontx(z 8a TX)

I second Carrie's suggestion of using an evergreen passion vine or something similar. A tree of ANY stripe will eventually get too large for your site. As much as I love my Nellie R. Stevens holly, I planted it too close to the house. The sky pencil looks good in such a place as you have, but doubt that you would be happy with it 10 yrs. from now.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2011 at 11:53PM
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debndal(8a DFW, TX)

The standard nandina Heavenly Bamboo would probably get to 9 feet, mine grow easily up to the eaves of my house but I thin them out every spring and remove the taller canes to keep mine shorter. The standard nandina does spread though by underground roots, so having it in an area bordered by walkways or driveways helps contain it. I've heard that they can be dispursed by birds in certain areas of the country, but I hadn't heard that it was much of a problem in this part of the country. There was an article I found online about nandina invasiveness, and the author's opinion was that it's been overblown. No offense wantonamara - just providing there is more than one point of view.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2011 at 12:02PM
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rock_oak_deer(8b TX)

Laurie - Are you thinking of Italian Cypress? It gets 30' or more but does stay narrow. Texas Mountain Laurel would be pretty there. It needs trimming to stay narrow, but it work the extra effort.

I like nandina too, they have pretty foliage, grow where nothing else will and are sporting beautiful berries right now. Many beautiful plants that we consider native now were brought from elsewhere. There are some non-natives that are invasive in a destructive way, but most are just great for the landscape.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2011 at 12:57PM
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roselee z8b S.W. Texas

I third the Heavenly Bamboo Nandina suggestion. I love Nandinas and must have 15 or more of the tall ones. They make a nice filler and hedging plant since they are tall and narrow, require little care and hardly any pruning.

As well as having a growth habit that is tall and narrow they have decorative clusters of white flowers in the spring and red berries all winter. Also the foliage of the plants in the sun, while remaining full, turn anywhere from a bright red to intense maroon in the winter. They are very drought tolerant and take sun or shade.

To keep them well covered in foliage near ground level take off a few of the older/taller canes occasionally as Deb suggests. The younger canes have more leaves near the bottom. In my yard a few (very few) seedlings may come up here and there, but are easily pulled up or transplanted.

No offense either to those that suggested passion vine, but my blue crown vines look pretty ratty during the winter. How do you all keep them fresh looking? In the summer the Gulf Fritillary butterfly caterpillars are happily munching away at the foliage, but that's the main reason I grow them.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2011 at 12:43PM
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PKponder TX(7b)

I was also going to add that my passiflora caerulea gets eaten to nubs by the Gulf Fritillary cats in warm weather. It's the main reason that I grow this passi, but it does not make for a showcase plant :-)

    Bookmark   January 28, 2011 at 1:11PM
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roselee z8b S.W. Texas

Another idea would be to use the native youpon holly tree in that area. It is evergreen with twisty multi-trunks that are interestingly mottled and it is not too large to plant near the foundation. I have had three of them that I planted next to the house with no problems whatsoever. Mockingbirds nest in all three of them and eat the red berries all winter. I have a picture somewhere of the one that is planted in front if you'd like to see it.

You could use a multitrucked Texas mountain laurel in the same way. Both of these small native trees are very easy to grow, drought tolerant, evergreen and have spring blooms.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2011 at 2:03PM
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whitecap

Mountain laurels grow so slooooow, and yaupons like to spread. I've seen pics of new cultivars of arbor vitae that are much more upright than the spreading types, but I've read that they don't tolerate pruning well, with cut branches dying back instead of putting out new growth. I'd also be concerned that it might try to "lean" towards the light. I set out a pencil holly this fall, but it causes me some unease that I've never seen a mature one in a residential landscape. I was unaware that nandina was considered invasive. I've got perhaps a couple of dozen, of various types, and have had to dig up only one "volunteer" in 20 years. They do spread by "walking," but are easy to control. The domestica will get 8 or 9 ft. tall, and are happy in sun or shade.

I seem to recall that you had expressed some interest in the ability of the Purple Pixie variety of the Chinese fringe to retain its color. The pair I set out in April are still deep burgundy, showing no green

    Bookmark   January 28, 2011 at 7:05PM
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carrie751(z7/8 TX)

Pam, I simply relocate the cats from my two evergreens to the Maypop, and everyone is happy.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2011 at 10:03PM
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cynthianovak

My jaw just dropped open regarding the Frits and Caerulea! Mine has lovely foliage that looked like it could be jewelery. I have loads of Gulf Frits but they prefer my Incense. They also give my Fetida a hard time. Maybe they just need choices. Wow! I want the cats but never really thought about how well caerulea handled them in the early years. Now at 4 years it's pretty big.

Reagarding that problem area: my favorite plant in those conditions is a Mexican Firebush. BUT I needs to come in during the winter or you need to start over each spring. Either way it's a pain. But it has lovely foliage, interesting flowers, and in a great pot really looks good sespite the blazing heat.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2011 at 12:16AM
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msrose

Here's a better picture of the space and you can see what it looks like with a tree there. This is right after I bought the house. I took the crepe myrtle out because it was sickly looking and it was constantly throwing long stems out over the sidewalk. I don't want anything they I have to keep trimming like that.

I really like the looks of the sky pencil and had thought about that originally, but a lady at the nursery told me they don't do good in this area. They had something else there that looked just like the sky pencil and she said it does much better here, but also gets much larger.

Nandinas that get 9' tall? Wow, where have I been. I'll definitely have to look those up since I just thought they were all small shrubs.

Is the Texas Mountain Laurel the one with purple flowers? If that's what it is, I saw one outside of a restaurant and thought it was the prettiest tree, but that's the only place I've ever seen one. It made me wonder if there's a reason they're not more popular. I would definitely like one of those if it doesn't get too wide for the spot.

I looked up Italian Cypress and that's exactly what I had in mind. Is there anything that looks like that, but stays shorter? I can see in my neighbors back yard and they have something that looks similar and is about 4' tall. I have no idea how long ago they planted it though, so it may eventually get really big.

Laurie

    Bookmark   January 29, 2011 at 8:52AM
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rock_oak_deer(8b TX)

Texas Mountain Laurel does have fragrant purple flowers. They are native to Central Texas, grow slowly and the large ones are expensive which is probably why you don't see them in your area much. They are getting more popular and the growers have been producing more of them the last few years so they are more available and less expensive than they used to be.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2011 at 9:46AM
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msrose

I found this picture and if it gets this big, I'm afraid it would be too big for that spot, but now I really want one. I'll have to look around my yard and see if there's anyplace else to put it.

I also found this picture of the Heavenly Bamboo Nandina.

I think this might be perfect, but I have to say I'm a little nervous about the possible invasiveness of it. I looked at reviews on a website that I can't mention the name of here and people seem to be split on whether it's invasive or not. I mainly looked for comments from people in Texas and the opinions are so varied.

Laurie

    Bookmark   January 29, 2011 at 10:16AM
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whitecap

There are 6 or 7 different species of nandina. This appears to be the domestica. You should see quite a few of them in your area, many of them now showing russet and gold tones. They spread by sending up new canes near the parent. Very easy to control.

Speaking of butterflies, there is a butterfly garden on the grounds of the new Bulverde / Spring Branch Library. It has been "certified" by the North American Butterfly Association.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2011 at 10:26AM
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cynthianovak

my house came with the heavenly bamboo nandina. I love it at this time of year...not so thrilled the rest of the year.

It is invasive, it does need to be pruned and manicured to keep it in a small space. It is a horror to remove. I mean shovels, crow-bar, axe and still it will return unless you cover it with concrete.

It does look great trimmed to look like a leafy myrtle: clean stems and leafy foliage above.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2011 at 10:40AM
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tx_ag_95(7/8 Lewisville)

The mountain laurel is probably not a good choice for that space, although I love the idea of it near the front door! They do get tall and wide. If you're south of I-20 you'll have better luck with them flowering, the flowers can have trouble with late freezes especially north of I-20.

My parents (in San Antonio) planted a tall nandina 25-ish years ago and I don't think it's even attempted to send out babies. The shorter ones I have (in DFW area) top out at about 6-7' and do have seedlings that pop up occasionally. I think it just depends upon which one you get.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2011 at 11:09AM
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rock_oak_deer(8b TX)

It looks like you have a good spot to contain nandina there. I tried looking up all the soft needle evergreens I could think of and they all grow to 30' or more.

Nandina (or any plant) isn't really invasive in many parts of San Antonio because there is very little soil for it to take hold in. After 20 years the nandina in my yard send out one or two volunteers a year on the compost/mulch accumulation in the beds. They are easy to pull out if we don't want them.

The most prolific volunteer in my yard is the Texas Mountain Laurel. The seedlings pop up everywhere in the spring from natives along the creek out back and the three large ones in the front yard. They don't transplant well or I'd offer to send you one. It also takes about ten years from seed to bloom which is why we pull most of them out unless they are in a spot where nothing else will grow.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2011 at 5:36PM
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msrose

I really don't want anything that suckers. I'm all about low maintenance. I don't mind if I occassionally have to trim something, but I don't want to deal with constantly trying to control suckers. In fact, I just took out a Wax Myrtle for that very reason. I had another thought...what about a dwarf oleander? I measured the space and the back wall is 6' wide and when I measure from the wall out to the front of the flowerbed where the point is, it's 5'.

Laurie

    Bookmark   January 29, 2011 at 7:52PM
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cynthianovak

I found an image of the way the nandinas are often kept where I live. This requires spring pruning to make the stems look clean and more "tree like"

Here is a link that might be useful: pruned nandina

    Bookmark   January 29, 2011 at 8:58PM
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PKponder TX(7b)

That is really pretty Cynthia!

    Bookmark   January 30, 2011 at 2:20PM
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pjtexgirl(7b DFW)

These alcove doors (inset doors?)are a challenge. I took out a tree on both sides that got too big. I put a trellis with a tame,evergreen vine on one side. Then decided to espalier a crepe myrtle volunteer on the other side. The vine looks great and is now starting to fill in. The espalier is only 2' tall so we'll see how that works out.
Personally I think that corner by your door could use some height and color. I think looks much better without the "mustache" hedge. How about a large,colorful container with a limbed up shrub or small tree? Or a multiple plants? A 9ft limbed up flowering shrub with a cascading groundcover over the sides of the container?

    Bookmark   January 31, 2011 at 12:00PM
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msrose

Thanks, Cynthia. Do most people keep them pruned or do you see it both ways?

pjtexgirl - I bet the crepe myrtle is going to look beautiful. I thought about doing that for about a second and then I remembered I wanted something easy and low maintenance :) What vine did you use? My mother has planted a couple of vines in her yard and I'm never crazy about how the look, so I was wondered what you'd recommend. I can't remember what she has tried, but they looked unhealthy with alot of yellow leaves near the bottom. I would love to fill in with something that blooms, just not sure what.

I had another thought, although it wouldn't give me the height. I wondered about a gardenia bush. I bought Heaven Scent and Frost Proof at the end of the summer because they're supposed to be easier to grow.

I found a shrub/tree in my neighborhood that is kind of what I originally had in mind. I'm going to see if I can get a picture of it.

Laurie

    Bookmark   January 31, 2011 at 6:49PM
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cynthianovak

Laurie
I looked around the neighborhood and the Heavenly bamboo is in both forms. It seems that when planted near the front door I see the pruned version. When planted at the edge of the house...like one of mine and a HUGE on across the street, they are allowed to bush out.

The biggest one I noticed is about 7 ft tall.

pj, I always love to see your suggestions.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2011 at 6:52PM
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pjtexgirl(7b DFW)

Thank you Cynthia:).
msrose, I used carolina Jessamine which I consider tame. I grow a lot of vigorous plants that,crazily enough, I love to prune into different sizes and shapes. I also like the fact that if I do a real butcher job they fill back in quickly. I like to think I'm in my experimental phase of gardening. It's been a rather long phase but I'm sticking with my story.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2011 at 1:45PM
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msrose

Thanks, pjtexgirl.

Have y'all ever heard of Green Tower Boxwood? It looks like it gets 9' tall by 2' wide, which sounds like the perfect size. I just don't know if they're good for Texas.
Also, I'm thinking my neighbors may have a type of juniper. Is there a variety of those that would be the size I'm looking for?

Laurie

Here is a link that might be useful: Green Tower Boxwood

    Bookmark   February 4, 2011 at 9:52PM
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pjtexgirl(7b DFW)

I don't like boxwood I think it smells like tomcat urine. I don't know if the Green Tower does tho. Junipers go from a huge tree to a prostrate ground cover. A lot of people have Junipers by the door.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2011 at 12:49PM
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msrose

Thanks for the warning. I certainly don't want anything that smells bad next to my front door :)

I'll try and take pictures of my neighbors trees today.

Another thing I thought of is a Japanese Yew. My parents used to have one next to their front door, but I started reading up on it and it says it gets 40' tall. My mother had no idea they could get that big, but she always kept ours trimmed. I don't want anything that requires alot of trimming, but my mother said she always thought of them as slow growing. I don't think I've ever noticed one of these in anyone else's yard.

Laurie

    Bookmark   February 6, 2011 at 1:12PM
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carrie751(z7/8 TX)

I have one, Laurie, but it is located in an area that does not require it's being pruned. Mine was VERY slow growing........and a beautiful shrub.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2011 at 1:27PM
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msrose

carrie - How tall and wide is yours and how long have you had it? Do you by any chance have any pictures of it?

Laurie

    Bookmark   February 6, 2011 at 1:36PM
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carrie751(z7/8 TX)

No pics, and it would be very difficult for me to tell as it has grown out from under the elaeagnus that I did not trim because of the cardinal nests in it. I just got out my Neil Sperry book and he says 10 to 25 tall feet and that it needs good drainage. He also says it is suited for use along walks and narrow spaces and can be espaliered.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2011 at 5:13PM
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msrose

Thanks, carrie!

I found two houses in my neighborhood that have this tree/shrub. I'm guessing they're both the same thing.

House #1

House #2

My next door neighbor has one that looks similar, but it's about 4 feet. I don't know if it's a shorter version or if it's just not full grown.

Laurie

    Bookmark   February 6, 2011 at 6:36PM
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rock_oak_deer(8b TX)

Those look like Italian Cypress. If you get a small one it would take a long time to outgrow that spot. I've found yews need a lot of trimming.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2011 at 6:04PM
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pjtexgirl(7b DFW)

Italian cypress get HUGE like 100ft tall. They sell a smaller version that I'd heard about. Here's a link to this Tiny Tower Cypress tree.

Here is a link that might be useful: tiny tower cypress

    Bookmark   February 8, 2011 at 2:49PM
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msrose

Tiny Tower sounds perfect. I'll have to do some research and see how they do in this area and if they're easy to find. Thanks!

    Bookmark   February 8, 2011 at 6:49PM
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msrose

pjtexgirl - I just had to share this story with you. I remembered you saying boxwoods smell bad, so I sniffed one when I was at Lowes one day and couldn't smell anything. I was at Callways last week and they had the Green Tower Boxwood, so I bought it to go next to my front door. The longer I drove around with it in my car, the more my car started to stink. I recognized the smell instantly. I used to have this neighbor and I noticed that smell every time I walked up to their front door. It smelled like a musty smell to me and I always assumed that maybe they had some water damage in their house at one time and the smell never went away. Needless to say, I took the shrub back a couple of days later. My mother was in the car with me when I took it back and her first thought was that it smelled like cat litter and I remembered you saying it smelled like cat urine. No more boxwoods for me!!

    Bookmark   March 17, 2011 at 10:56AM
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Lynn Marie

I have the EXACT same problem! (With the need for a skinny tree/bush, not cat urine smell!) I'm really interested to see what you decide. I think a large pot with a large shrub would look great, but take tons of water. Also, I don't think a gardenia would make it, but boy do they smell wonderful!

    Bookmark   March 17, 2011 at 8:53PM
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msrose

lynnmarie - Let me know if you come up with anything, because I'm at a complete loss right now as to what to use.
I'm going to North Haven Gardens in Dallas tomorrow, so I'm hoping I'll see something different there.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2011 at 9:00PM
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pjtexgirl(7b DFW)

I managed to keep a gardenia going in a pot for 3 years. I had to take it in to protect it for winter tho. Rainwater or water with 1 gallon w/tablespoon vinager added will make the soil acid enough.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2011 at 9:44PM
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asinha

How about some awesome yard art like a wrought iron piece on the wall with a container of interesting plantings below -all surrounded by some low grasses and pretty perennials?

    Bookmark   July 17, 2012 at 12:54AM
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roselee z8b S.W. Texas

Asinha, that's a good suggestion. Msrose, what did you finally decide to plant there?

    Bookmark   July 17, 2012 at 11:34AM
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msrose

Roselee - I gave up on planting something tall and just went with a Knockout rose for color.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2012 at 10:30PM
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