Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Seeking Advice

Parthenon Horse Head

Jamie and I planted a several Chrysanthemums in the garden year before last. During the summer, they have a nice mounding habit that makes them look like two foot wide rounded shrubs. The affect is really nice in the garden and I like the way it looks. Unfortunately, we noticed this spring that the mums are traveling like crazy under ground and in a matter of two years could be out of control. In addition, they really aren’t performing very well this year.

So Jamie and I are calling on the experience and knowledge of all our readers for suggestions. Here’s what we would prefer and the conditions we are working with. We would like an evergreen with a small mounding habit that will not grow over 2 X 2 feet wide. We would like something that has interesting blooms with as long as possible of a blooming season or maybe a repeat bloomer. The plant needs to be able to handle full afternoon sun and the shade that will be in that area in a couple of years when the trees grow. We are in zone 8a.

I suggested some dwarf variety of re-blooming azalea, but Jamie thinks we already have enough of them and we don’t need anymore. I wouldn’t be completely opposed to a deciduous shrub, but since we have virtually zero winter interest in the garden evergreens would be nice. Okay, so that’s the challenge, you guys put your thinking caps on and see what you come up with. Most of you have way more gardening experience than we do so I’m confident you have a much larger knowledge base to work with. And, if you have any gardening friends you happen to be having a conversation with hit them up for suggestions too. LOL We appreciate your help.

** A litte note: For a wonderful post on butterflies check out Peg's Blog.**


Cameron (Defining Your Home) said...

This is so coincidental! I've been admiring the nicely, mounded habit of the mums that I got last fall and thinking how great they look.

What comes to mind is using the large-leaved sedums such as 'Matrona', 'Purple Emperor', 'Bekka' and 'Green Expectations'. There are so many colors (blooms and foliage) from which to choose. I don't know about the future shade, but at least sedums are easy to move. And... by pinching back the tips, you can have mass plantings in no time. I recently had to pinch the tips, of the tips, that came off of my mother plants earlier this year!


Phillip said...

The hard part is finding a plant that is evergreen and blooms. There are not that many! Camellias come to mind but they wouldn't like that harsh sun plus there are very few that stay that small. Where did you find the horse's head? I've never seen that before.

Monica the Garden Faerie said...

LOL, as Judge Judy says, I'd prefer to be 5'7" but it ain't gonna happen! Seriously, mums aren't evergreen in Michigan, and they don't really spread all over. I do cut mine back a few times so the blooms wait until fall and my are mounded looking as a result. Sorry!

Darla said...

Lorapetulam (sp). It's an evergreen sort's actually a burgandy pink with tiny pink flowers. Will grow quite large it left alone, good part is it can be pruned for shape at any time of the year.....rosemary.....sociey garlic.......I know these did not meet your preferences....just what jumped right out of my head..LOL I'm trying to paint the masterbath so my mind is not in the garden right now...going to Lowes to see what matches black and hunter green....any suggestion?

Jamie and Randy said...

I looked up those Sedums and they are a definite possibility. I like the way they look, but I haven’t gone so far as to see if they are evergreen yet. I need to research some more. ‘Matrona’ and ‘Purple Emperor’ are gorgeous!

Camellias would be too large for that area. But you know what? All of ours are in full sun and seem to be thriving. Weird isn’t it?

They aren’t evergreen here either. I just like the shape they make in the summer so I thought a small evergreen would look good in their place when we remove them this fall. The X Grandiflora are the ones that are spreading so terribly. I can’t tell you how many we had to pull up this spring or the patch would have been almost five feet wide per plant.

Jamie and Randy said...

That a good idea and they come in dwarf varieties too! Okay that's a definitepossibility. 'Purple Pixie' stays compact, it does spread a little but that can be easily maintained.

Roses and Lilacs said...

I'm so far from your climate zone I would't even guess. Just wanted to say I like the statue;)

Jamie and Randy said...

Thank you Marnie! We just got it this weekend, we have four more statues that we want and just ordered yesterday. That will most likely complete our collection (or at least that's what I'm trying to convince myself). We don't pay alot for anything that we buy and we waaaaaaay passed my comfort zone on the ones I ordered yesterday. Can you tell I'm still trying to justify the purchase? I'll be okay once they are here and set up. :-)

Tootsie said...

can't help too much. I am the girl with the annual fetish! I just stopped to say hello!

Jamie and Randy said...

NO ONE can do annuals like you! I don’t see how you keep everything watered. Ours just never look good when we plant them. I'm glad you popped in to say hello. :-) --Randy

tina said...

Maybe 'Little Richard' abelia might fit the bill. I think it would be evergreen in your zone, does well in sun or shade and is a long bloomer, plus butterfly magnet. Here is a link:

I grow this one here and it is fairly compact. It's been in my garden about 2 years now and is about 2-3 tall and wide. It can be pruned back easily. Short of that, an evergreen that I know usually does well down there and mounds is Helleri holly. I like mine but no blooms. There may be varieties of lorepetulum like Darla said that are smaller. Good luck.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

I'm glad Darla responded. She knows SO much about plants and what works well. I personally would use the dwarf re-blooming Azalea (which is not an evergreen--but has pretty green leaves year round.

Hope you get some great ideas.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

I will be interested to see what suggestions you get. You live so far south of me that I doubt my suggestions would be of use. I love that horse head in your garden.

Frances said...

Hi J and R, if I might persuade you to forget the flowering part and go for that all important winter interest, how a a nice Blue Star Juniper? Or a few? They are the most delicious color of icy blue all four seasons and grow to the size you are looking for. They make great companions to other flowering plants too. I like them with grasses for textural contrast. Leaf shape, size, and color are just as important to please the eye as flowers. Although Matrona is one of my all time favorite plants too. Hope you find something that pleases you both.
Frances, your blood sister with gusto

compost in my shoe said...

I'd suggest Abelia 'Rose Creek'. It is dwarf , flowers from June to August. Try some of the dwarf sasanqua camellias as potential choices. Dwarf Rhaphiolepis, ones resistant to leaf spot. Not my utmost favorite of shrubs but does fit your quest.

Jamie and Randy said...

The Abelia is a definite possibility. The holly is beautiful, but we have a ton of them in the front so we need to get more variety. Thanks for the Abelia idea, it’s going on the list!

I like the dwarf azaleas too and that was my idea as well, but Jamie says it’s a no go on the azaleas.

We’ve gotten some good suggestions so far! I’m glad you like the horse head. It’s our little concrete replica of the Parthenon Horse Head. :-)

Dearest Blood Sister ;-)-
Blue Star will certainly go on the list; I love the color and the texture. And I could do with out the flowers since it’s such a wonderful blue color.

‘Rose Creek’ is another good suggestion and Jamie really does like his Kaleidoscope Abelia so it goes on the list too! This going to be hard to narrow down.

sweet bay said...

What about Serissa feotida? (In spite of its name it doesn't smell bad.)

lynn'sgarden said...

J&R, I have a newly planted spirea that is short and compact with pretty white blooms in spring..check out Spiraea corymbosa. It's an evergreen here for me in zone 6. Or possibly a dwarf Carol Mackie-like Daphne? Not sure if your garden already contains these small shrubs..good luck and let us know the results :)

Jamie and Randy said...

Serissa feotida? I've never heard of that one! I had to look it up. I think it gets just a little too big for the area where we need to plant it.

What a neat Spirea! It's the perfect size for the area. I'm not crazy about the deciduous part, but I think we need to add it to our garden somewhere...--Randy

Pam/Digging said...

Ah, the search for the mythical perfect plant! An evergreen that stays small, blooms that won't stop, can handle full afternoon sun or shade. Does this creature exist? ;-)

I don't know, but I do second Frances' excellent suggestion to go with beautiful evergreen (or blue) foliage instead of flowers, or to try some grasses instead. I love the way she uses those Gulf muhlies to spice up her fall garden.

Whatever you decide, I'm sure it'll look great. Have fun!

Pam/Digging said...

And all right, I'll throw out one suggestion, Randy. How about a yucca? You'll get great evergreen structure, a beautiful white bloom on a tall stalk, and a plant that will thrive in full sun or partial shade. Just give it excellent drainage. Try planting it on a gravelly berm. Will Yucca recurvifolia work in your region? Or perhaps the smaller twistleaf yucca or paleleaf yucca?

Jamie and Randy said...

Hey Pam!
Good to see you again. I like the look of Yuccas, but lately I've gotten very clumsy in the garden and I’ve managed to impale myself on the Agave more than once. I get tired and don’t pay attention. This is a narrow place and I’m not sure it would be safe for me to put any pointy items there. I’m seriously concerned that I could be careless enough to poke out an eye or something. BUT, I have given thought to grasses and it just so happens some of Frances’ Muhly (s) grass is planted in that bed. :-)--Randy

sweet bay said...

Serissa can get to about four feet tall, but tolerates pruning very well. It's not a very fast grower, and I hear it's a favorite of Bonzai growers!

Hmm, it is hard to think of something that will exactly fit the bill... Germander? That only gets to about a foot in height though.. Perhaps Conradina canescens or Cumberland Rosemary? Or Evergreen Blueberry? (either V. darrowii or myrinites)

tina said...

Santolina is a good subshrub. I love it in my garden. It blooms small yellow button flowers in early summer and does not need to be pruned. It stays small. Even lavender might work. Creative juices are flowing here.

Jamie and Randy said...

That evergreen blueberry would be a good idea!

Santolina would be a good choice. I've never seen that around here. Tina something killed all the lavender in the garden this year and we have no idea what. It was in different areas and different types. It's got us scratching our heads.

Regardless of what we put in the place of those mums I want you guys to know I've made a list of just about all these plants to place them in the garden LOL! Ya'll have named off so many plants I've never seen or heard of before. I hope I'll be able to buy these locally. --Randy

Jake said...

I don't have any ideas, sorry. I thought I could add to the Sedum being evergreen question. Sedum's in Kentucky would freeze back after they bloomed in the fall. But, they would start to poke back out in February and the foliage didn't get hurt from a low of 3f.

Now in FL zone 9, they bloomed last year in November. I cut it down in January because when I was in KY for the holidays it had already started to grow back. The new foliage took many hard freezes here in FL and a low of 23, so apparenlty the new foliage is frost hardy, but flowering makes it weak.