I need help! Gardening veteran but winter garden newbie

zgardennut(zone5b)March 26, 2010

Hello all!

I am in western PA and our winters can be harsh but I am rethinking all my perennial beds as the work involved has been hindered by too many gnats in summer and this year a broken arm that is taking way too long to heal.

A fellow garden club member and I are interested in phasing out a lot of our perennials and adding in shrubs and evergreens. How do I start adding them when there are no others in the beds? It seems to look funny in the beginning.

Is designing with these different than putting in perennials?

Any info you feel is important to get me started would be greatly appreciated!!


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pat4750(Zone 6 Cen PA)

Hi Dianna!
I am in central Pa (Harrisburg area) and came to the realization 3 years ago that very soon my gardens would become more than I could manage alone. It was an article sometime back by Sydney Eddison in "Fine Gardening" and an article here on this forum by Luseal that got me started. I am not disabled except by advancing years and increasing stiffness and intolerance of hot weather so far but that may not be true as the years go on.
I made a list of the garden beds and their contents and what maintenance they required and with what frequency.I thought about which chores I could handle, which ones I enjoyed, which ones I could comfortably delegate entirely and which would need supervision. I walked around the inside of the house and looked out the windows of the rooms we used most often in the winter and tried to visualize what I wanted to see.
The first shrubs I added were Thuja 'George Peabody' (just 3 to start) along part of the back property line and in front of them Cornus sericea 'Baileyi'. The following winter when everything else back there had browned or disappeared, the twigs of the dogwoods were lit up by the sun and were shown off beautifully by the golden arborvitae. The arborvitae need minimal pruning and the dogwoods only need the oldest stems lopped off in early spring. The dogwoods have not suckered in 5 years but they layer easily for propagating. An added benefit was that the white berries on the dogwoods were being eaten by the mockingbirds, bluebirds and robins.
This is getting long and I don't want to bore you but I hope it's been helpful.
Good luck

    Bookmark   May 5, 2010 at 1:30PM
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jannie(z7 LI NY)

Bumping this back up for 2011-I've got my seed and plant catalogs ready. Gonna order some of the trees/bushes suggested above!

    Bookmark   February 18, 2011 at 9:06AM
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