green and lush ideas

Discussion in 'Outdoor Gardening in the Pacific Northwest' started by scottg, Feb 28, 2011.

  1. scottg

    scottg Active Member

    Messages:
    31
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    White Rock, BC - coastal
    Hi, we just finished building a new deck and in the process created a space that I wish to plant. Thinking more of a tropical look. Wish list is: larger, full, lush, low maintenance, quick growing.

    The space also runs a 4' wide strip down the side of a 6' cedar fence. You can see the strip in this photo between the railing on the deck and the fence. We are going to plant the space in front of the deck that you can see as well. It will end up being a rather large planted area. The photo looks south and it will be in the shade much but not all of the day. When the sun does hit this area, it can be quite hot.

    Looking for ideas and advise from others that we can consider before I start prepping and visiting the nurseries. Thanks in advance!
     

    Attached Files:

  2. Pieter

    Pieter Well-Known Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    212
    Likes Received:
    168
    Location:
    Richmond, BC
    Wish list is: larger, full, lush, low maintenance, quick growing.

    Scott, quick growing typically translates into maintenance, you can't have it both ways... Most of all, you don't state what it is you're looking for in terms of mature size and what type of planting: shrubs, trees, vines (maintenance), perennials?
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2011
  3. Gabriolan

    Gabriolan Active Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    82
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Gabriola Island, BC, Canada
    You might want to take two approaches at once: get something temporary that'll grow quickly and give you good results this summer, AND plan for the long term, which may involve a different plant strategy altogether.

    If it were my place, I'd start by putting in a small bed on the ground around the edges of the porch, and I'd plant a pleasant climbing thing that would climb up the deck rails. I'd do the same along the fence that's on the property line, probably tacking lattice or netting onto that fence to give a climber some support.

    I'm not sure how much light you have there, but you might look into sweet peas, pole beans, runner beans (Scarlett Runner?) Here are a few flowering vine ideas to get your imagination started. Of course you'd want to read up on anything you're thinking of planting. There are even flowering vines that love shade.

    Now, that tropical look you want. How about Elephant ears? You could put some in the ground, some in raised containers or planter boxes to get leaves higher up. Consider ferns and hostas, too. Empress Wu hosta is huge. I don't know how long elephant ears and hostas take to get established and reach full size, so you'd want to check into that. But still - lush, tropical, fun.
     
  4. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor 10 Years

    Messages:
    4,776
    Likes Received:
    6
    Location:
    Toronto, Ontario
    You should also take a look at Musa basjoo, an ornamental fibre-producing banana that is hardy in your zone. This actually fits all of your requirements: it's lush (especially after the mat has established itself), fast-growing, larger (up to 8' tall, with long, broad leaves), full after the first year, and very undemanding. Musa basjoo will put out 1 leaf a week in the summertime.

    The "elephant ears" (gosh, I hate that term) that will do best in your area are Colocasia gigantea and Alocasia odora, which take about 2-3 months to come up to full size leaves from their tubers, and which can be overwintered like tulips or other bulbs - in a dry box in the basement. Colocasia esculenta (taro) is also a great choice, especially since you can usually find viable tubers at your local Asian grocery.

    Finally, Castor Bean is a beautiful, hardy, fast-growing plant with a definite tropical look, especially the red-burgundy cultivars.....
     
  5. Gabriolan

    Gabriolan Active Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    82
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Gabriola Island, BC, Canada
    Interesting, lorax! I hadn't thought of banana.

    I did think about suggesting Castor Bean, which I adore and am planning to grow myself this summer. Do you think it will get enough light in the area scottg describes?
     
  6. ghp

    ghp Active Member

    Messages:
    48
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Santa Clara, USA
    Just wanted to say that looks like a nice, cozy space and I hope you post pictures once you've got it set up!
     
  7. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor 10 Years

    Messages:
    4,776
    Likes Received:
    6
    Location:
    Toronto, Ontario
    Gabriolan - Maybe. I've found that in lower light conditions, the only thing that really happens is that Castor doesn't get as tall or branchy (it goes bushy), which would actually make it ideal for the heights of that deck - it wouldn't overpower. For me, at least, in full sun it turns into a small tree.
     
  8. kevind76

    kevind76 Active Member

    Messages:
    409
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Winnipeg, Canada
    Might be prudent just to add about the toxicity of Castor Bean. Keep an eye on pets.
     
  9. scottg

    scottg Active Member

    Messages:
    31
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    White Rock, BC - coastal
    Great suggestions, all. Thank you!

    First thoughts were hostas and ferns. But will need some taller plants than that as well. We have a number of other ferns around this very mature yard, considering going on a gathering trip here once it warms up a bit more and the snow is gone from the forests up the valley. Gotta investigate how they will transplant first before I start digging up our native flora..

    Also want to introduce some color but not with a wack of annual flowers, we have that elsewhere. Want to avoid climbing vines in the railing, don't want to damage the cedar railings from moisture and insects and such. Definitely thinking perennials though I must say the caster bean intrigues me.. Will have a closer look at that for sure. Looks very cool. I think 5' tall is about max except further up the longer railing.

    Elephant ears are a good one too, should I be concerned about hardiness in our zone? 8a I believe. Don't want to have to dig anything up in the fall, mulching sure. I expect that.

    Musa Basjoo, same thing. I love the look but concerned about maintenance. Don't know much about it but definitely will have a closer look. Could possibly put that further up the 4' strip but any further to the north and I would be concerned about shading the beds further up that way.

    I guess my idea of low maintenance is a bed that I can easily work around the base of the plants. I don't want a big messy tangle to deal with. Would prefer to keep the base well mulched and few weeds.

    And yes, I'll be sure to post some pics to this thread later this summer.. Looking forward to seeing this area "finished"
     
  10. Gabriolan

    Gabriolan Active Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    82
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Gabriola Island, BC, Canada
    Thank you, lorax - this is very useful information.
     
  11. scottg

    scottg Active Member

    Messages:
    31
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    White Rock, BC - coastal
    For conversational purposes, What I would really love to see in this area is all native plants. Would love to see lush Salal and an Arbutus tree. Big ferns and other BC coastal plants. I think that would be premium but dont have much confidence in being able to transplant the Arbutus or the Salal. Also from what I am reading, the salal is very slow growing so it would take a long time to get estabished.

    There are a few mature Arbutus about my part of town, kinda on the border, certainly not common. I think they like to smell the sea breeze to even consider growing and that I have. I understand the drainage / soil isses as well. Defiantely common just across on the west coast of the straits, no reason it wouldnt do well here.

    Sorry for the change in direction.. Still tossing up different ideas. Scott
     
  12. kevind76

    kevind76 Active Member

    Messages:
    409
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Winnipeg, Canada
    It's your thread - I think you should be able to go in whatever direction you want! lol.

    I do like your idea of the natives. I'm partial to planting natives wherever you are. However, there are so many awesome choices in your climate, that I would vote for the tropicals. Could you try a mix? Some B.C. native ferns for a base, then a banana, maybe a Ginger (there are some semi-hardy ones, right?) and possibly a Palm as the vertical element? Just some thoughts. Keep us updated.
     
  13. Gabriolan

    Gabriolan Active Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    82
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Gabriola Island, BC, Canada
    But this could be part of a long-term strategy, yes? Plant whatever you want for now, and then sneak in the salal and arbutus. :-) Give it a few years, and hey, presto! One native plant garden.
     
  14. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor 10 Years

    Messages:
    4,776
    Likes Received:
    6
    Location:
    Toronto, Ontario
    Very low maintenance, actually - about once a month, you have to look at the plants and take off any dead leaves, and other than that you need to water them, but that's about it. I'd be tempted to plant them up at the end of the bed that runs between the deck and the fence - that way you wouldn't be shading anything much.

    Yup! Hedychium coronarium is the hardiest of the gingers, but in 8a Scott can also look at Costus pulverulentis and if he's willing to overwinter the rhizomes, Curcuma as well.
     
  15. Gabriolan

    Gabriolan Active Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    82
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Gabriola Island, BC, Canada
    I might try this.

    I noticed that GardenwiseOnline.ca published a how to grow ginger article a while ago.
     
  16. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor 10 Years

    Messages:
    4,776
    Likes Received:
    6
    Location:
    Toronto, Ontario
    I encourage you to give it a shot! And pay no attention to what some sources say about Hedychium being strictly ornamental - it has a pleasant, sweeter gingery flavour in the rhizomes that works very well in stir-fries and juice from the stems is commonly used as a refreshing drink here in Ecuador. I'm also fond of the flowers in salads.

    Gingers in general are very easy plants to grow and require very little by way of care or attention (in fact, mine grow best when I forget they're in the garden).
     
  17. dt-van

    dt-van Active Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    309
    Likes Received:
    10
    Location:
    Vancouver, Canada
    When considering an Arbutus tree bear in mind that once mature they are, while lovely in the wild, quite "messy" as garden trees. The drop some leaves all year round, they drop flowers in the spring and later ripe berries which can stain concrete and wooden decks.
    If you want a nice groundcover consider our native "ginger" Asarum caudatum. It's a lovely trouble free evergreen with beautiful heart shaped leaves.
    For winter interest Cornus sanguinea "Midwinter Fire" is a lovely deciduous shrub with fabulous winter branch colour might be a nice addition. Hybrid Hellebores also add a lush look and have a long bloom season. They can be expensive, but are a good investment and there is a special Hellebore sale with a fabulous selection available at Phoenix Perennials in Richmond this weekend.
    For low maintenance you can't beat the tropical look of large Hostas and they provide a great textural contrast with ferns.
     

Share This Page