Columnar evergreens to frame symmetrical house

Discussion in 'Garden Design and Plant Suggestions' started by Laura Ralph, Oct 10, 2007.

  1. Laura Ralph

    Laura Ralph Active Member 10 Years

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    Hello,

    I was wondering if anyone has any suggestions for a columnar evergreen that might work to frame the entryway of this symmetrical house. The garden is going to be redone and the owner wants a "country cottage style".

    Thanks
     

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  2. Laura Ralph

    Laura Ralph Active Member 10 Years

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    Framing house

    ...or to frame the whole house.
     
  3. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Not symmetric, actually, the window to the right a different size from the one on the left. The dominant effect of cottage style is casual exuberance, outside might be framed by clipped hedges but bulk of interior usually looking like many of the plants came up on their own, here and there, with reseeding kinds like poppies actually more than looking like they came up on their own.

    The stairs and roof around door are so large and dominating, relative to the size of the house that adding additional emphasis with two exclamation points seems a step in the wrong direction. Once these grew above the level of the facia the appearance produced could be downright odd, the house looking like a little bug with antennae sticking up.

    Since the house facade is not really symmetric, and the house is small and lacking in grandness, and mostly informal planting has, in effect been asked for anyway surely much safter to use asymmetric balance at the door. A typical example would be a large shrub on one side and a small shrub with a medium shrub together on the other side. Rounded, spreading or pyramidal shapes would be much less distracting than columnar ones.
     
  4. joclyn

    joclyn Rising Contributor

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    tall/columnar would NOT look nice in the long run, as ron mentioned. in fact it would give a very jarring effect. also, tall trees would not fit with the desire for a 'country cottage' look.

    i'd remove the large bush on the right and add in another rhodi for a matched pair, then add in various bulbs that will bloom at different times as well as some self-seeders and other plants that are perennial - mix of them so you have flowers spring, summer, fall. coneflowers, daisy, aster, mums, iris, daylily, daffodil, crocus, gladiola, black-eyed susan, cleome, poppy, sunflower, sweet william, bee balm, allium, liatris, lupine, rose campion, liriope, hosta, coralbells...and the list goes on. keep some additional matched pairs of the other plants on either side of the stairs - mix it up with one color to the left and a different one to the right.

    i'd also suggest trellises for the sides of the house - one on each side right next to the windows. roses or clematis to grow on them. could also do annual vines for extra color and green fill for when the clematis/rose isn't in bloom. hyacinth bean vine is a really nice one - lovely flowers and fantastic pods.

    for the porch railings - facing front - i'd put in some planter boxes and have something that cascades down. annuals for this and it could be changed from year to year for variety.

    'cottage' style is unplanned plantings of a variety of items. there is no formality. the columnar type tree the owner would like would be a bit formal.


    you could do some kind of small columnar tree or topiary in large planters on the porch - right behind those planters on the railing if they really want this type of feature.

    it's a very nicely designed house and the windows aren't really that noticable. second thought on the trellises - they should go no higher than the bottom of the windows or that difference may be highlighted.
     
  5. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Matched pairs do not ever go with the rest of the scene unless everything else in it is also demonstrating formal symmetry. Large country houses with symmetric facades like those seen frequently in Britain and Europe used formal gardens to make a transition between the rigid, artifical symmetry of the house front and the flowing, naturalistic appearance of the pastoral countryside around them - there was a specific "reason" for the gardens to be symmetric and formal. It was a design gimmick used to make the whole comfortable. Formal plantings in settings where there is not such a definite purpose to them are not comforting, where there is not enough room for them to make a pattern that provides some interest these can become merely a boring maintenance headache.
     
  6. Luv2Grdn

    Luv2Grdn Active Member

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    Starting from the brick pathway and going back.
    Lobelia in the front by brick then behind those...
    Japanese forest grass with Verbena -everyother one.
    Spirea, Coral bell, Speedwell, Hosta clump.
    Pigssqueak. japanese maple
    In the back some Barberry, Arborvitae (golden Globe)
    Then have something like lilies by the railing.
    Add some window boxes for next years annuals. Decorate it for fall.

    boxwoods would look nice on the other side by the side walk with some of the same plants behind.

    Please show us an after picture. I would like to see your finished job!
     
  7. Karalyn

    Karalyn Active Member

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    I agree with the others. Is there a window under the left side window which is hidden?
    Left side from looking at as shown by the picture.

    I think a Japanese Maple would look nice as well.
     
  8. Laura Ralph

    Laura Ralph Active Member 10 Years

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    Hello all:

    Thanks for your interest and excellent suggestions. I will let you know my thoughts and add more pictures tonight when I return from work.

    Laura
     
  9. Laura Ralph

    Laura Ralph Active Member 10 Years

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    Hello,

    A friend had thought that the house needed a bit of symmetry. I didn't really like the idea either, so I am glad that ya'll agreed. So the pieris on the right has been removed - it was slated for removal from the beginning. The house is a bit tricky to plan because, yes, there are windows at ground level which need some space in front of them...The main plants that are currently on the left side are from left to right: the rhododendron (next summer, I will thin and prune it down quite a bit), a rock rose (not sure what colour - needs TLC or to be removed), a white forsythia, and a trumpet vine against the house that doesn't really have anywhere to go at the moment. On the right side of the stairs from L to R: anenome (will be moved or taken out - the owner wants something on a standard in that spot - she is thinking of a peegee hydrangea or a tree peony or something), hardy fuschia, sad rose, orange crocosmia (needs to be moved into the sun). The house faces East, but will get most of its sun from the South and southeast because there are big trees on the street. The south bed from back to front has some irises, a rosemary, an orange rose, some dahlias, rudbeckias, lavender, and a shrub rose. I was thinking of training Osmanthus delavayi against the bare wall to make a nice green backdrop. To the right of the stairs, I would like to plant a Callicarpa bodinieri somewhere. They don't want any more rhododendrons. Also, there is a little bed on the other side of the pathway on the left side of the house that contains a Japanese maple and a ceanothus. They want to move the maple to a pot or something and plant a taller tree. The husband wants a tall red maple because he likes how the sun hits the leaves and makes it glow...the wife wants a pink flowering dogwood. I was thinking that maybe Cercis canadensis 'Forest Pansy' might make them both happy. However, I know that some people don't recommend them for Vancouver, but I am not sure why. Also, the owner wants to plant some clematis to go up the 4by4s on either side of the stairs. Wow, this is a long post... I will attach some pics.
     

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  10. joclyn

    joclyn Rising Contributor

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    what a big difference without the pieris! had no idea there was a planter under the window! might want to think about removing the rhody on the other side, too.

    seeing the after pic with the pieris removed, i think it would look really nice to be able to see both of those windows. you could do something on trellises on either side of the windows and with the flower boxes that are already above both you'd have some nice framing happening.

    clematis up the posts of the stairs. THAT is a fantastic idea!! that will really look lovely - from any direction!!

    that japanese maple is lovely too! maybe put that on the right side of the stairs? on the far end by the corner of the house - and something that will be similar height on the left-hand corner of the house to balance out.
     
  11. Luv2Grdn

    Luv2Grdn Active Member

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    The stairs would look nice if the flared out at the bottom with a nice design for the railing. Some how hide the under part of the stairs. Are those power lines in the front yard? A slow growing tree or something that doesn't grow so large like the dogwood would be good.
    I personally don't like to see the lower windows so much. The japanese tree would be nice off centered infront of one of the windows. Maybe a water feature would be nice off set infront of a window as well to attrack birds. Or a gazing ball on a nice pedestal.
    Warming up the color of the house would be nice. The house to the south is the same color and the house to the north has a warmer tone. Or change the trim color to make things pop. It is a very cute house with lots of posibilities.

    Keep sharing your progress.
     
  12. Karalyn

    Karalyn Active Member

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    Looks great so far and the pavers in the pathway is wonderful! I would like that done at my house.

    I like the ideas posted above. Is the Maple tree new? Very Pretty!
     
  13. M. D. Vaden

    M. D. Vaden Active Member 10 Years

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    Either way would look fine.

    Personally, I'd probably go with the columnar evergreens, and Irish yew would be my first choice, maybe the variegated one.

    Mainly because its soft to the touch, and can be renovated when it reaches old age. It can be stubbed and will resprout, rather than having to yank the whole plant.

    A myriad of other forms can be planted with it.

    Trees could look good too, but I think you would need a forested look to pull-off a good effect with tree cover.

    One or two Japanese maples could look a bit bizarre as the main features.

    It can still be symmetrical, because the garden can be used to alter the symmetry. In other words, you use the plant placement to mirror the house dimensions, rather than getting distracted about the house not mirroring itself.

    I believe that the height of the entry is what calls out for the columner green column shapes. Had the home been set down on grade, I'd consider leaning away from taller columns.
     
  14. lauraf

    lauraf Member

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    Hi Laura,

    I don't think the side of the entryway is where you want to place tall plantings. Tall plantings in that location effectively hide half of the house and make it look smaller and somewhat insignificant, when in fact it's a rather cute and not so small. I would remove the rhodo on the left side (beside being too big, it's also bare at the bottom, where you'd want some green screening) and plant some low growing, mounded, soft perennials (somewhat reproducing what you have on the right side).

    The outermost side of the house is where you want the taller plantings, I think - these would both frame the house and hide the view of the buildings next door. You could plant a Fatsia Japonica on one side (if the site is shady, as it appears in the picture). On the other side, it might be nice to have a harbor that leads to the back. You could place a trellis right next the corner of the house, with a vine growing on it and from it on to the harbor.

    I would also replace the flower boxes and plant them with annuals (just one color scheme, so not to make it too busy).

    In any event, please do post a picture of the house when it's all done!


    Cheers,
    Laura
     
  15. M. D. Vaden

    M. D. Vaden Active Member 10 Years

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    Hey... the thread still lives on !!

    I think I'll go get my laptop to run the little image program for tinkering. Will be back.
     
  16. M. D. Vaden

    M. D. Vaden Active Member 10 Years

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    So... had fun chopping your house all to pieces to try and blot out most of the foliage.

    Copy pasting windows was fun.

    Anyway, this is fairly crude, and the type of plants is fairly irrelevant. I was mainly trying to see how certain forms and heights would look in front.

    Seems that tall skinny's would still work.

    Short would be "so so", but I'm certain that if I bought that place, something with height would be somewhere, whether one, or a pair.
     

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  17. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Notice how, since the windows to the left and right of the stairs are not the same size the front of the house is thrown out of balance by the matching pair of cigars poking up in front of them. Presumably the larger cigar on the right is being used to compensate, however there is a smaller broad-leaved shrub at the left corner so the sequence produced by the conifer cigars is not carried through the whole - including the one broad-leaved shrub points to what needs to be done throughout. The picture on the right doesn't show a deficiency with broad-leaved shrubs, it simply shows that a different selection and arrangement is called for - starting with getting rid of the matching pair at the front of the steps.
     
  18. M. D. Vaden

    M. D. Vaden Active Member 10 Years

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    Yes, that's exactly what I noticed about the windows. The windows are mis-matched on the house, therefore the foliage cover to buffer their full appearance is one of the good reasons for some tall plants.

    Otherwise low plants alone, or trees that "canopy" overhead, advertise with a visual loudspeaker "look at these windows!".

    There is one other option too, that didn't come to mind at all until just now...

    That's to get rid of the short brick section of sidewalk, and put a short hedge about 8 feet wide and 6' tall there, parallel to the main sidewalk, that would block the view of the big entry steps.

    Then put two short walk approaches allowing entry by coming around either side fo the hedge.

    Seems that if the windows can't be hidden, they can have attention diverted from them. And subtle plants don't often divert as much attention as the inclusion of a few unique forms like columnars.
     
  19. M. D. Vaden

    M. D. Vaden Active Member 10 Years

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    Here's attached what I was referring too. Even more crude since I moved the image to "paint".

    I wouldn't know myself whether this would look good unless I was standing there, or had 6 photos from different angles, and about 100' away for each image.
     

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  20. M. D. Vaden

    M. D. Vaden Active Member 10 Years

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    If something like that were done, my choice would be to shear the hedge corners rounded as shown with green, and to place a shorter type of plant / shrub on either side as a transition - indicated with red arrows.

    And maybe a foot or two narrower on the hedge width. Who knows, maybe wider would look better.
     

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  21. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Now it looks like it has a muzzle on. Anything architectural in effect will emphasize the lines of the building instead of softening them, as long as plants with rectilinear shapes are chosen and arranged formally the house will not be complimented. It needs a design using asymmetrical balance and naturalistic plant shapes.
     
  22. M. D. Vaden

    M. D. Vaden Active Member 10 Years

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    Either symmetrical or non-symmetrical should do fine. There could be two of them side by side, each done differently, and still look good.

    You mentioned that something architectural or rectangular won't work around that house. The reason I side-step that obstacle, is that the house is already bordered with buildings that are rectangular or architectural. Likewise with the straight and perpendicular sidewalk. Like if the hedge in the image concept is removed, then we are left with a basically rectangular set of stairs, each with a bunch of little rectangles - swapping architectural for architectural.

    And no problem with that. The design can be done just as well by omitting any columns or hedges, and just using random planting of various heights.

    What would make this more fun Ron, is if you have an image program to post a few of the other style. Even paint could work. Let's see what you have in mind.
     
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2007
  23. Karalyn

    Karalyn Active Member

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    Very Interesting....
     

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