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Astilbe, [?], impatiens

 
 
sozobe
 
Reply Tue 17 Jun, 2008 03:50 pm
So I've been sending out yard SOS's pretty much since we moved in. It's a big, complicated yard, that used to require a team of 6 professional gardeners every other week or so throughout the growing season to maintain.

I've been struggling to get a handle on it (just me, we can't afford professional gardeners) and also to refashion it a bit into something more me. Me: Native and/ or hardy plants, colorful, lots of perennials. Them: High maintenance, lots of annuals, lots of stretches of mulch with individual plant islands in the middle of the mulch.

There were three azaleas in the front of the house (the western side) that shouldn't have been there in the first place and got progressively more pitiful as I failed to give them the TLC they needed to hang on. They're alive, but ugly, and I'm taking them out. I want to fill in the space they left but also fill in more with plantings instead of the whole "three small azaleas in 40 square feet of mulch" look.

I currently have lots of impatiens planted in the front part of that patch (total is maybe 15' X 15', roughly). There are some hostas there already (sigh). I put some coleus near the hostas. Vinca is making inroads (which is fine with me.) Everything's pretty low.

I want something taller near the house. It's pretty shady -- the house blocks morning/ early afternoon light, and a large elm nearby provides shade for much of the rest of the time. I think that spot gets maybe 3-4 hours of sun.

I hemmed and hawed and didn't want to commit to anything too major right now so I got a bunch of astilbes (5), on sale at the local nursery. They reach 3 feet tall and will be a really nice deep pink/ magenta. (Budded but haven't bloomed yet.)

They'll be in a row right up by the house.

I have some more impatiens to plant in front of them.

Should I have a middle layer? Something between the astilbes and the impatiens? I was thinking maybe lime rickey heuchera, but not sure about spindly flowers and then spindly flowers again. I do like the leaf contrast though. Maybe light-colored, small hostas?

Probably planting tomorrow, astilbe + impatiens is probably fine and this isn't too big of a deal -- impatiens are annuals, astilbe was cheap and can sacrifice/ transplant later. But always learn stuff when I ask these things, so decided to go ahead.

Thanks!
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Type: Discussion • Score: 1 • Views: 9,897 • Replies: 18
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ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Tue 17 Jun, 2008 04:07 pm
It's too late for this , but I'd recommend keeping in touch with groups like this and try to get in on their plant exchanges.

I don't know that particular group, but I've found that people who've got nice hostas they can divide and bring in are popular traders at most plant exchanges.
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Green Witch
 
  1  
Reply Tue 17 Jun, 2008 04:18 pm
The garden snob has arrived and I will bite my tongue about the vinca. Garden Tip: Only corn and boxwood should be planted in rows - and boxwoods only when imitating the gardens of Versailles.

For a tall plant in the shady spots try black cohosh (Cimcifuga racemosa aka Actea) or goatsbeard (Aruncus). Here's a picture of the goatsbeard, bigger and bolder than the astilbe:

http://www.hort.wisc.edu/mastergardener/Features/flowers/aruncus/aruncus-plant1.jpg



You might also be able to find meadow rue (Thalictrum), more airy than the goatsbeard:

http://pss.uvm.edu/pss123/thali2.jpg
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Tue 17 Jun, 2008 04:25 pm
I like the goatsbeard!

Since I have the astilbe already though, do you recommend anything between it and impatiens?

And don't bite your tongue about vinca! What about it? (Sorry if we've been over it and I forgot.) I love it -- hardy, shade-tolerant, low-maintenance (except for cutting it back from where I don't want it to be), pretty foliage, and pretty flowers to boot.


Nice idea, ehBeth, thanks.
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Tue 17 Jun, 2008 04:26 pm
Oh and point taken about rows. If I have five, should I kinda clump them? Semi-circle?
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Green Witch
 
  1  
Reply Tue 17 Jun, 2008 04:35 pm
sozobe wrote:
Oh and point taken about rows. If I have five, should I kinda clump them? Semi-circle?


Think triangles or zig zag.

Vinca is an invasive plants when it gets into wild areas. It's spread when birds eat the berries and then poop them around. Vinca forms a tight mat that other plants can't get through. It suppresses woodland wildflowers. It's not a bad city plant, but a problem in suburbs near wild areas and at it's worse in rural landscapes. Some national parks hire college kids to rip it out at tax payers expense, along with other invasive plants.

Our phone keeps ringing here, but I'll get back to you with some ideas.
0 Replies
 
Green Witch
 
  1  
Reply Tue 17 Jun, 2008 04:38 pm
How about some interesting ferns? These are various Japanese hybrids:

http://www.perennialfarm.com/images/360_07comboD.jpg
0 Replies
 
Green Witch
 
  1  
Reply Tue 17 Jun, 2008 04:41 pm
There are some very cool new hellebores on the market:

http://www.sunfarm.com/images/hellebores/gardens/hwoods03-003-m.jpg
0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Tue 17 Jun, 2008 04:47 pm
Ferns sound good!

I'm a bit worried there's too much sun for them -- I think of ferns as being true shade plants.
0 Replies
 
Green Witch
 
  1  
Reply Tue 17 Jun, 2008 04:50 pm
This is black cohosh:

http://www.churchillgardens.com/images/ref/cimicifuga.jpg


Instead of vinca, try European or American ginger (asarum canadensis} or woodland ground phlox (phlox divaricata):

http://www.northcreeknurseries.com/_ccLib/image/plants/DETA-223.jpg

or foamflower (tiarella):

http://www.foundwellfarm.com/images/Foamflower_lg.JPG
0 Replies
 
Green Witch
 
  1  
Reply Tue 17 Jun, 2008 04:52 pm
sozobe wrote:
Ferns sound good!

I'm a bit worried there's too much sun for them -- I think of ferns as being true shade plants.


4 hours or less is best. As long as the shade is not being created by a red maple or some other big moisture stealer.
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Tue 17 Jun, 2008 04:54 pm
Liking what Green Witch is saying...

Triangulating is a common way to plant - let's say you put in three plants three feet apart, yep, in a row.. but then three feet in front of that and half way between the first two in that "row" you put another one, then, three feet over from that, another one. Given a lot of plants grow in a sort of round form, the circles will "fit". Hard to 'splain without a photo. If you do a mass, it is sort of a "grove" effect.
0 Replies
 
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Tue 17 Jun, 2008 05:05 pm
Solomon's Seal does well in fairly heavy shade in my yard.

It comes in more sizes than I'd realized. Great plant for putting low spring natives under.

http://www.prairienursery.com/store/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=120

When you're looking for plants, don't forget to check out yard sales - and church bazaars - they're often good sources for plants that will do well where you are - the local gardeners will have hardened them off for you already.
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Mame
 
  1  
Reply Tue 17 Jun, 2008 06:22 pm
0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Tue 17 Jun, 2008 07:18 pm
I do like Solomon's seal -- have some in the back.

I'm actually doing pretty well in terms of knowing my shade plants (except thinking that ferns shun sun), I'm asking a more aesthetic question with this one. Given that I have astilbe and impatiens (I like them for the color and their shade-tolerance), do you think I should put them right next to each other or have something else in between? If something else, what?

"None of the above" is cool too in terms of future reference, but thought I'd clarify the specific question I'm asking in this thread.

Green Witch, thanks for the vinca response. I'm pretty urban actually -- have suburbs between me and really wild stuff. So that reassures me that I can keep the vinca. It's probably my favorite plant in the yard. (The whole tight blanket that keeps out other plants part is what I LIKE.)
0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Tue 17 Jun, 2008 07:19 pm
Oh and I get the triangle thing -- I've done that with several plantings. It does make for a roundish clump, which I like.
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Tue 17 Jun, 2008 08:17 pm
Or it can fan or 'grove'...

I've a bias against impatiens. Sorry.. I don't think of them in the same sentence as some other plants, more for patio pots, cute little gardens. What we put in model home gardens.. And yet I genuinely liked your impatiens among the ivy. So.. to be honest, I don't see astilbe and impatiens near each other..

Given they are, I think I see some intermediate height plant with either spikey growth or sort of arrow shaped leaves in a contrasting color green to astilbe.. or something mid high and fat-leaved.
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Tue 17 Jun, 2008 08:36 pm
I also admit to a spoiled kind of planting life. I haven't understood annuals except as a child in chicago, all the neighbors with the little marigolds. Or big marigolds, as the case might be. And Zinnias.. Burpees had some kind of white marigold contest.. which I was gung ho about.

But after that I've liked perennials for decades..

So, here I am, and I now begin to re-get the joy of bulbs, the pleasure of .. marigolds.

Which is to explain that my biases move, take them with salt.
0 Replies
 
littlek
 
  1  
Reply Wed 18 Jun, 2008 03:33 pm
The painted ferns that greenwitch showed are more tolerant of sun than some other ferns. If I can think of anything to add to greenwitch's wonderful posts, I'll be back.

One thing: the heuchera/heucherella/tiarella top at at a certain height, but they seem lower. The 'spindly' flowers are a lovely haze about low monded leaves. So, they may not work as a mid-height plant. I'd plant them in front.
0 Replies
 
 

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