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Planning a new bed - looking for ideas.

Posted by Laurelin z5 NY (My Page) on
Mon, Dec 19, 05 at 8:55

Hello everyone!

I had a burst of energy (crossed with a case of basic necessity and good weather) in the fall that resulted in a new retaining wall in the front yard and a new terrace on the slope and two gravel patios in the back yard. The back terrace gives me the opportunity to create a new raised, rock-wall-edged bed following the stairs down the slope (sunny high end in the east, going down to the west and more shade from tall hemlock trees). The exposure is northern, with partial sun (more in the summer, very little in the winter/early spring). The past few years I've enjoyed watching the birds come to my feeder, which is in another nearby bed with black currants, rhubarb, a white Cornus florida, and assorted hosta, astilbe, daylilies, and IB iris (the bed is sunnier at one side than the other). The new bed will be a little farther out into the yard - more sun earlier. Here's what I'm thinking so far:

I want an Amelanchier, probably 'Forest Prince,' for the foliage, fruit, its bird habitat advantage, and as an eventual screen between my great big picture window and my neighbor's back yard. They cut down their huge pine trees a couple years ago, and the illusion of privacy vanished. I now have a great view of their kitchen, and all the junk they have piled under their deck. So the tree would go near the top of the bed on the slope, where its a bit sunnier and in line between our windows.

I've considered adding a couple Myrica pensylvanica (bayberries) as a hedge between the lower patio and the yard, to make that area feel more private (and to keep the kids from rampaging through that side of the patio). I can prune them for size if necessary, I think. Does anyone else grow them? I like the idea of their fragrance and the berries that could attract birds.

I need ideas for some small shrubs or small-medium part-shade loving perennials. I'm zone 5a/borderline 4a, so it needs to be very hardy. I've started getting interested in native plants, although I have plenty of non-natives already. The back yard has a hot color scheme - red/orange/yellow, with accents of blue and touches of white, so pink-flowering anything could seriously look out of place. (I won't say "clash" - sometimes that dash of the unexpected is fun, and I do have some pale pink astilbe that I've left out back because I love looking at their chartreuse foliage in the spring and summer. I just can't use more than a spot of pink.) The new bed will be about 20 feet long and about 6 feet wide.

So, how about it - can you help me plan and daydream for the spring?


Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Planning a new bed - looking for ideas.

Some of my favorite shrubs right now are Diablo Ninebark, Limelight Hydrangea, and Spirea. What you've done so far sounds really great. A Kousa Dogwood might also be nice in that area. I'm not familar with the 'Forest Prince' so will have to go do some research on that one. Always looking for more birdie habitats.

RE: Planning a new bed - looking for ideas.


I looked up Hydrangea "Limelight" and it looks very good. I don't have any "traditional" hydrangeas (I do have a very nice oakleaf variety called "Pee Wee," which is a great plant in spite of its silly name). Does yours keep that wonderful chartreuse color through the summer?


RE: Planning a new bed - looking for ideas.

I think I'm going to move a couple blueberry bushes from their large pots into the ground in the new bed, near the top of the slope (where they'll get the most sun). The tree can go a little farther down the slope; as it grows I can limb it up if I need to. Decisions, decisions, those seed and plant catalogs are mighty tempting. I'll have to keep wintersowing to fill in the remainder of the bed.


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