I'm giving up on my English Garden dream

msroseMarch 15, 2012

I had dreams of filling my raised bed with lots of perennials and roses, but I've come to terms that it's just not meant to be. Alot of what I planted last year died, because of the heat/raised bed. I have two Drift roses that weren't phased by it, but that was the only thing that seemed to work. I'm trying to come up with something more practical now. Maybe not my dream garden, but something that will work in the heat, low water requirements and low maintenance. It just needs to be a nice backdrop for my yard and I can plant all my pretties in my lower beds. Another problem I have is the weeds. There's an office building behind me, so the weeds are constantly creeping in under the fence. I noticed my neighbor has some fairly large rocks that fill her flowerbed. I'm thinking about doing the same after I get some plants in and hopefully I won't have to worry about the weeds then. Any ideas on what plants you would use and how you would arrange them. I'm not sure if I want to use one type of shrub all the way across or alternate between two or three different ones. Not sure if any of these would work, but a couple of plants I wondered about is some type of Nandina (don't want the invasive one), Purple Diamond loropetalum (Does it really stay purple all season like advertised).

I can't remember what they're called, but my neighbor has a similar yard and has a couple of these tall, skinny trees:


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I'm sorry to hear you are giving up on your dream. :( I hope that what you replace it with brings you some joy and satisfaction.

Nearly everything I purchased and planted last year died.

Established plants hung in there but suffered. Perhaps it was just due to the high heat?

I lost a lot, first the hail storm then the heat.
I'm noticing some things are missing, like my established homestead verbena, no sign of it. :(

But I do have a few things planted from the plant swap last year that are coming back!

Its the things I purchased at nurseries that didn't make it. There was no drought here, I watered well.
It was all the heat.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2012 at 9:10AM
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roselee z8b S.W. Texas

I've often wondered how your raised beds were doing. Thanks for checking back in with us, but I'm so sorry to hear that your English garden dream plants did not survive the heat, but as Melvalena says a lot of us lost plants last year, especially if they were not well established.

But you could dream instead of a Texas type cottage garden and use a mixture of native plants -- some good ones are named on the native plant thread. I notice too that a lot of people are getting more interested in plants like agaves and thornless cactus. I like their sculptural look so a few small growing agaves, yuccas, and succuent plants that a native nursery could suggest would look good with things like Gregg's salvia, Flame acanthus, Russian sage, Powis castle artimesia, Coral honeysuckle, (the last two would drape nicely over the edge),etc. I'd buy them in as large pots as you can afford so they already have a pretty good root system going before it gets hot.

I think the tall skinny shrub may be Arizona cypress. I love them, but they can get huge so be careful where you plant it. I wish there was a small growing variety.

And yes, you can mulch with large flat stepping stone type rocks. The few weeds that come up between them would be easier to pull and it's easy to tilt up one side of the stone to fertilize or plant.

Hang in there and keep trying. Wishing you the best. Keep us posted.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2012 at 3:52PM
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I've never been crazy about the yuccas and succulents, but I have seriously been considering them at this point. I noticed a Gregg's salvia down the street the other day and it looks so pretty right now and so I wondered about it. What about Gold Lantana? Do you think it would do okay? Here I go looking at perennials again, when I was thinking I should stick to shrubs :)
I haven't heard good things about the Razzle Dazzle Crape Myrtles, but my aunt took this picture of her neighbor's and it's gorgeous. Do you think a Crape Myrtles would do good in a raised bed?

    Bookmark   March 16, 2012 at 8:11PM
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tx_ag_95(7/8 Lewisville)

The Gregg's salvia (salvia greggii?) should do fine there. It tolerates the heat pretty well. One of mine needs some pruning, probably due to one of the freezes we had, but other than that they've not needed any special care from me. They pretty much survived on their own last summer. I've never tried the Gold Lantana, but have the Dallas Red, Potpourri, lavender trailing, and white along with a pink/yellow mix. They all did pretty good over the summer and almost all seem to have come through the winter again. I may have lost a lavender and a couple of whites, or I could be misremembering how many I had.

Depending upon where you are, Lady in Red Salvia might be an option. It came through this winter just fine for me but I think it typically comes back from seed this "far" north. Cenizo/Texas Sage would be another option. Or the Henry Duehlberg salvia and the Mystic Blue Spires salvia. I seem to have acquired a liking for salvias and sages -- they're pretty, small bush shapes, flowering (the salvias bloom almost constantly all summer if they get "enough" water), and don't need a lot of supplemental water once they're established.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2012 at 9:04PM
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wondering where you live. You might look at some different roses. All the suggestions given were good. I have a front yard garden with flagstone pathways, fountains and different plants in different beds. Things thrive and thing die and some others take a few years to look Great! I'm always wandering around looking at neighbors and public gardens to see who's doing what and what looks good. Sorry your first try was last year but hey, you have a lot of options now....

    Bookmark   March 16, 2012 at 10:06PM
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I'm in the DFW area. I had things planted in the ground that struggled, but not like the plants in this raised bed. I thought about putting a few Knockouts up there, but I don't want to have to climb up there to trim them back. There's a house in my neighborhood that has some rosebushes that are just as healthy looking as KO's, but they have red flowers. One of these days, I'm going to take a picture and see if someone can identify it.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2012 at 11:15PM
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have you thought about trying some seeds up there? Maybe zinnias and cosmos and herbs? I'm thinking if you can reach them it might be handy and pretty and very drought tolerant...and look English. What about verbena trailing down? rosemary standing up? A variety of scented geraniums? Maybe the sun tolerant torenas that trails nicely and has a very deep throat and classic shape? Sweet almond verbena gets big but has a very sweet fragrance: Might be nice on the ground.

What about some bouganvia already in hanging baskets? More of a Mexican garden look. Would look great against the brick. But caution: it doesn't like street lights. Could pair it with some Mexican oregano [or is that terragon] that smells like rootbeer.

just a few thoughts. good luck
c One last thought: since you are in Dallas. go to the arboretum. They have all sorts of plantings in different places. Might inspire you

    Bookmark   March 17, 2012 at 12:57AM
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Laurie, what about a French Provencal garden instead? Lavenders, prostrate rosemary, creeping thyme and even an ornamental olive tree ought to do very well in that area with very little maintenance. All mine, including the newly-planted olive tree, survived the drought beautifully last year. And they look great with many of our native plants like the salvias.

I spend a lot of time in England with family and, boy, is that country damp! Like walking on a wet sponge. However, I always noticed that the English plant a lot of Mediterranean plants in sunny areas, trying to get their own exotic gardens!

    Bookmark   March 17, 2012 at 10:39AM
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cynthia - I don't know how I forgot about this, but I did end up throwing down some seeds during the heat of the summer after everything else was starting to die. I think I bought mostly zinnias with a few sunflowers. The zinnias did amazing and I'll probably buy some more this year, but I would eventually like some evergreens up there also.

jandey - I didn't know we could grow lavender here and I'm not really familiar with the ornamental olive tree, but I'll certainly check it out. The original owner did have a rosemary planted that was hanging over the edge, but it wasn't a very pretty one. It had really thick stems and was kind of ugly. I'll have to check into the prostrate rosemary. Thanks!

    Bookmark   March 17, 2012 at 11:13AM
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Just found this picture of creeping roseymary, prostrate group. This is much prettier than what I had before:

    Bookmark   March 17, 2012 at 11:25AM
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Carpet roses? I just planted four in my front bed, don't have any experience with them, but they sure get good reviews!

    Bookmark   March 17, 2012 at 3:19PM
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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

Irene rosemary is really nice too. Before I saw your picture, I was thinking aboout Iren Rosemary. Also artimesia Valery Finnis would make a vertical silver accent . Wandering jew would also be a hardy waterwise alternative. Silver pony's foot would be a nice draper also. wine cups will be a surviver and drape also.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2012 at 11:54PM
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maden_theshade(8 - Austin)

I think a Chinese Fringe bush would look pretty there, also American Beautyberry, Coralberry, esperanza.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2012 at 12:01AM
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Anyone have Lowery's Legacy Cenizo? It was listed as one of the Texas Superstar plants?

    Bookmark   March 18, 2012 at 10:04AM
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I'm not very good at the photoshop thing, but i was just playing around. I have the chinese fringe plants on either side with Greggi Salvia in front of them. I have two Razzle Dazzle Crepe Myrtles with a Powis Castle Artemesia in between them and creeping rosemary.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2012 at 11:11AM
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What is the measurement of the actual planting area front to back?

Looking at your first photo it doesn't look like there's enough room for those plants (front to back) when they each reach maturity.
The full sun salvia greggii wants to be a mound about 3-4 feet wide when its about 3-4 years old. Older ones even larger unless they're pruned regularly.

I have kept mine smaller and denser by cutting back early summer and late winter.

If its not full sun they won't get quite as large.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2012 at 11:22AM
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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

Salvia gregii will find its way amongst rocks and ledges, it just grows different when in a different situation. I think it will grow there fine , it will grow outwards. My does not mound. I grow several types of S gregii on limestone ledges., but I agree, there is only room for on plant thick in the place but one can work with vertical and hanging and create the allusion of both happening..

    Bookmark   March 18, 2012 at 11:41AM
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Good point, melvalena - The bed is 31" deep. Maybe instead of the salvia being in front on another shrub it could be next to some of the shrubs. I still haven't figured out the best way to arrange things. Maybe three shrubs, three Salvia, three more shrubs, etc.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2012 at 1:28PM
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greybird(z7 TX)

A challenge with a raised bed that has rock behind is the radiant heat from the wall. Plus the heating up of the soil in the planting. What is the exposure of this plating?
Had you considered ornamental grasses? I can see red fountain grass doing well in this situation. Not hardy here, but a beautiful display quickly. Lots of graceful movement to soften the hard geometry of the rock wall. Requires regular watering, but can take ferocious heat.
Salvia greggii is stellar in the heat and sun as well. I particularly like the cultivar "Lipstick", lots of bang for the buck. Goes wonderfully well in front of Russian thistle, another heat lover. When combined with the front guy gray yarrow "Moonshine", the effect is stunning; blue, red and yellow primary colors complement well.

Sorry to hear the end of a dream. But English garden here is tough. Perennials are the way to go in the heat and sun.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2012 at 1:30PM
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what about a barberry? A deep color would look great against the stone and they are tough.

thank you for an interesting puzzle!

    Bookmark   March 19, 2012 at 12:59AM
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I got a book called Easy Gardening for North Central Texas at Barnes and Noble (May not be exact title) but its by some lady Pamela Crawford and one of the guys at the Fort Worth Botanical gardens. It has annuals, perennials, shrubs, and trees and the plants I've tried from it have held up well. Its not as extensive as Neil Sperry, but it is more up to date and gives performance info about a lot of the new fancy brand name plants in the Ft. Worth Botanical trial gardens.

Or you could just take a trip to the botanical gardens and see the trial garden for yourself and see which ones you like.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2012 at 12:01AM
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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

You have these structural segments. One can do an arbor for vine in one a tall thin shrup like a trimmed Italian cypress in andother or two to anchor a focal poiint and broad lower shrub and then work levels and colors in. using the segments to create pictures. Maybe a garden scupture snuggled in to a hollow created by arching shrub. A vining banksia rose would give a strong vertical wildness trained onto the fence top.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2012 at 12:04AM
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cynthia - I am open to having a few Barberries. I just don't want it to me the main thing since they're not evergreen. My mother saw a Rosey Glow near her neighborhood that she keeps telling me about.

Bach - I used to go to the Botanical Gardens on a regular basis, but it's been years since I've been, so I really do need to visit again. I'm going to look for the book. Thanks!

wantonamara - That's where I'm struggling the most is how to divide up the sections and create a pattern. The only thing is I can't grow anything on the fence per the HOA rules.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2012 at 7:06PM
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Anyone familiar with Plum Passion Nandina? I've never heard of this variety, but it looks pretty.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2012 at 7:41PM
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greybird - Forgot to comment on the grasses. I planted my first two grasses in the lower part of the yard last year. I do love them, but it's my understanding that they need to be cut back and I don't want anything in the raised bed that has to be cut back. Are there any varieties that don't have to be cut back? I do love the Red Fountain grass, but it's an annual here. Sounds like I definitely need some Greggi Salvia!

    Bookmark   March 21, 2012 at 8:16AM
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Does anyone grow Gold Pillar or Helmond Pillar Barberry. I thought this might be something good to add height and color if it would do good.

What do you think the green plants are in front of these?

    Bookmark   March 31, 2012 at 9:09AM
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I found another pretty plant....Weigala Wine & Roses. Anyone grow it?

    Bookmark   March 31, 2012 at 9:18AM
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carrie751(z7/8 TX)

I have grown the pink weigela for years (it is blooming now), but this one is striking.........may have to have one of those and crowd it in with the pink.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2012 at 10:06AM
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greybird(z7 TX)

Whatever you decide to plant here will be subjected to tremendous solar heating, sort of a baking effect. Most plants that flowers will likely produce spring and fall, then rest all summer.
Lavender is gorgeous and breathtaking in a group. Can take the heat and drought.
Gaillardia produced all season long last summer, the only thing blooming.
I still can see your planting in that red fountain grass. Easy to care for and very high visual impact. And not costly if you buy the very small plants or divide a large pot into smaller pieces.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2012 at 2:04PM
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rosemary would probably love it there

since the drift roses like it, plant more of those

or maybe rangoon creeper

    Bookmark   April 3, 2012 at 2:22PM
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I have an upright rosemary planted between the front sidewalk and the street so a very tough area but it has done well. I do have to trim it on a regular basis so you might want to go with trailing rosemary. It's not supposed to be as cold tolerant but in your space it should get enough protection.

Do you have weeds coming under or over the fence? If under, I'd suggest a putting a barrier down a few inches to stop them before installing plants.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2012 at 6:50PM
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Yes, yes, yes to the weeds coming under the fence. I have got to do something about that. I have some stones that I'm going to line up against there to hopefully block some of them out, but I think I will still have them popping up through the dirt. That's one of the reasons I'm thinking about adding stone to the flowerbed once I get everything planted.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2012 at 9:02PM
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BachGardner - I finally got the book you mentioned and I love it!

    Bookmark   April 7, 2012 at 9:10AM
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Brad Edwards

Barberry seems to do really well here, as well as loropetelum. That bed looks amazing, thank you for the ideas.

I have to agree entirely on you giving up. We just don't have a good climate for an english garden. It gets to hot and the droughts have been bad. Check out purple heart, they do well here and look beautiful as well.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2012 at 11:39PM
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Well, I just planted 4 loropetelum, so I hope they do good :)
I also bought Powis castle artimesia and I'm looking for the pink Greggii salvia. I added two more low growing roses since they seem to do good up there.

oceandweller - I have thought about purple heart, but I wasn't sure if it was invasive. I love anything that adds purple to the garden. I also saw some blackish cannas that I thought were interesting, but I had cannas up there when I moved in and there were popping up everywhere, so I wasn't sure if I wanted those again. I really like the color of the ones I saw though.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2012 at 9:00AM
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I spotted the trailing rosemary at Lowes not long ago. Did you plant any of it?

    Bookmark   April 18, 2012 at 10:42AM
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cynthia - No, I haven't planted any rosemary yet. Even though I love the idea, I'm still a little nervous. I actually had some rosemary in this bed when I moved in and the stems/branches were so thick and ugly and I didn't like how tall it was. It was hanging over the edge of the bed, but I don't know if it was actually the trailing kind or the regular kind that the just planted near the edge. If I lnew for sure the trailing kind would stay really low, I would plant some.

I finally planted my Powis castle artimesia and now my mother's neighbor is telling me it can be invasive. For those that have it, have you noticed that? I certainly don't want something that's going to spread.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2012 at 12:02PM
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denisew(z8 TX)

That is a lot of reflective heat from the stonework. I recommend going with native plants such as autumn sage, flame acanthus, gulf muhly grass, red yucca, etc. I really think these types of plants will be able to take the extra heat and bloom for you all season.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2012 at 1:11PM
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ExoticRGVNativesTy(10a TX)

I'd go with Winecup myself to spill over the side of your planter. You could fill in the rest of the bed with wildflowers and Pale-leaf or Arkansas Yucca

You might be able to include an English-style mixed border elsewhere in the yard. Plenty of plants grow natively in the DFW area that would seem right at home in England - among them Rusty Blackhaw (Viburnum rufidulum), Jersey Tea (Ceanothus herbaceus), Coralberry (Symphoricarpos orbiculatus), Leafy Rose (Rosa foliolosa), and Lyre-leaf Sage (Salvia lyrata). Unfortunately, many of these are not widely available in nurseries.


    Bookmark   April 23, 2012 at 4:48PM
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freshair2townsquare(z7/8, D/FW)

a. the tall skinnny evergreen might be sky pencil holly

b. salvia greggii & knockouts (already mentioned) are perfect, i think, for those areas - both are relatively zero-maintenance - you'd only have to "climb up there" once a year

c. i agree with the comment that the stonework/concrete will increase the ambient heat - native & drought-tolerant is the way to go if you want low-maintenance

d. i've got some purple heart, if you want some - they do spread, but not in an invasive way - they're native to mexico & can handle the heat

e. there's someone on our forum who describes their style as "native texas cottage" or something similar - who is that? not exactly an english garden counterpart, but similar - is it the orderly, geometric, trimmed "english garden" that you like, or the overflowing, miss marple "english garden" that you prefer? - that would help us make texas-friendly suggestions

f. your structure would look wonderful with a local native flowering vine - have you already told us what part of texas? - that would also go a long way in lowering the ambient temp

    Bookmark   April 23, 2012 at 10:29PM
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freshair - I'm in the DFW area.

Ty - Is winecup considered a wildflower? Is it something you usually find in the nurseries?

cynthia - I found a picture from when I first moved in. The plant to the left of the Canna is the rosemary. It was hanging over the edge, but I had trimmed it back at this point. You can still see how tall it was though. Do you think this was regular rosemary instead of trailing?

    Bookmark   May 5, 2012 at 9:27AM
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rock_oak_deer(8b TX)

The Texas style cottage garden is Roselee's and I posted photos on my blog to share.

It's so beautiful and amazing and you have the perfect spot to try something similar on a different scale.

I have a later post on her more xeric front yard too.

Here is a link that might be useful: Texas style cottage garden

    Bookmark   May 5, 2012 at 11:02AM
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I thought of you when I saw the picture below.

Here is a link that might be useful: raised bed

    Bookmark   May 15, 2012 at 10:14AM
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tx_ag_95(7/8 Lewisville)

Yes, that looks like a "regular" rosemary, they will drape over an edge if given the chance.

Winecups are considered wildflowers, if anyone knows of a nursery that sells them, please share! I'd like to add some to my front yard.

I haven't had to trim back my salvia greggii...although one bush is looking like part of it died back, I'm waiting a bit longer to see if it recovers.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2012 at 10:26AM
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carrie751(z7/8 TX)

I have winecups, Sarita, but you would have to dig them. I also have the little pink flower that I call Texas Star .........I keep trying to get them to reseed in a bed I have, but alas, they like the wild.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2012 at 10:49AM
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tx ag, check with Landscape Mafia in Austin, I saw some winecups on their website.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2012 at 7:03PM
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