Planting Help

Discussion in 'Garden Design and Plant Suggestions' started by Mike in North Vancouver, Mar 27, 2008.

  1. Mike in North Vancouver

    Mike in North Vancouver Member

    Messages:
    16
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    North Vancouver
    I am hoping I might be able to get some advice on plants I might add to a problem area in my garden. The area is in the south to southeastern part of my front yard and it gets full sun (7 am to 7 pm). The area borders my neighbours yard. There is about a three foot retaining wall and my area is on the higher side. Below my neighbour has some peonies and hydrangeas that do well. In my part there is about a foot of the wall above the soil which might provide a little protection for roots.

    So here is the problem. The only plants that really thrive in this area are dahlias I plant each year and a beautiful shrub which I have just learned is a Daphne Laureola which I understand is highly invasive and toxic and should be removed (darn, darn, darn).

    I would like to plant some 3 foot high evergreen shrubs in the area to provide some structure to the area and make it look less bare in the winter. I planted an escallonia last year and noticed the other day that there are only two little branches left on it near the ground and they have black spots on them (this was not the structure I had in mind). A viburnum in the area also was not doing well and I moved it in the fall.

    I checked the PH in the area and it is between 6.5 and 7.0. I have amended the soil each summer when adding new plants. The Escallonia should have done well in this location and I am wondering if the toxicity from the daphne might be causing a problem for surrounding plants.

    In addition, I was wondering if anyone had any ideas for what I might plant in the area. I would like to plant a flowering evergreen and was wondering if a small leaf rhodo might do well in the area. I was thinking about a Jean Marie de Montague; although this grows up to 5-6 feet which may be a little larger than desired. ANyone know of any hardy sun tolerant smaller nice red or white rhodos that would work? I was also considering a Cistus Ladeniferus; although I am wondering if the winters here may be a bit too cold for it. I am in North Vancouver just above the highway and am either Zone 6 or 7. Another possibility is an Osmanthus delavayi.

    This area has me stumped and confused. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated. Cheers.

    Mike
     
  2. growest

    growest Active Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    683
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Surrey,BC,Canada
    Hi Mike--I've had trouble with escallonia here, too. The winters seem a bid harsh on them, tho I'm probably in a tougher climate than you, at over 400 ft. elevation in south Surrey. Snow can bust the escallonia branches also, rats...it's a nice evergreen flowering shrub otherwise!

    I have osmanthus delavayi nearby to the escallonia, and it has been quite flawless for me. Flowering season is more concentrated, but the foliage is a nice dark green quite attractive. This is supposed to be similarly hardiness to escallonia but as I say has fared better for me here.

    Also in this sunny area is an "ancient" rhodo "Bow Bells" which is a highlight of the spring flowering season. It has kind of stalled at about 4 ft. tall and just focusses it's energy into flower production, growing only an inch or two of new foliage each season after flowering, perhaps this would be an idea for you. I believe all the rhodos will be more compact in full sun, so not as gangly and hard to control as the height estimates might suggest. So many varieties...the smaller leaved ones tending to be more compact, and happy in full sun here esp. with some mulch.
     
  3. Mike in North Vancouver

    Mike in North Vancouver Member

    Messages:
    16
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    North Vancouver
    Growest, thanks for the response. Since I am not alone with the Escallonia problem perhaps my problem may not be related to the soil. It was also helpful to know that rhodos will be more compact in the sun - this opens up some more options in dealing with the suggested rhodo heights. Sounds like the Jean Marie de Montague may do well in the sight; although, I am interested in seeing what Bow Bells might look like. Thanks again.

    Mike
     
  4. Mike in North Vancouver

    Mike in North Vancouver Member

    Messages:
    16
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    North Vancouver
    As mentioned in another thread, I just purchased the rhodo Honourable Jean Marie de Montague for the site. I am also still considering an Osmanthus or Cistus Ladeniferus for the area. Just wondering what luck people in Vancouver have had in growing a Cistus Ladeniferus.

    Cheers

    Mike
     
  5. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

    Messages:
    20,889
    Likes Received:
    626
    Location:
    WA USA (Z8)
    Rhododendrons want a woodland situation and rock roses a Mediterranean one, with hot sun and protection from icy winds. The form of gum cistus prevalent here does not produce a mass display of flowers, so often it looks like it is before or past a peak bloom that actually never occurs, as far as I can tell. It also seems to deteriorate and die out rather often - but many other shrubs planted in numbers in ordinary plantings here do not receive adequate consideration.
     
  6. Mike in North Vancouver

    Mike in North Vancouver Member

    Messages:
    16
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    North Vancouver
    Ron, thanks for some more helpful advice. I think my challenge is that this full sun area seems to be a little hotter than a normal woodland setting but not quite a mediteranean setting. However, as the Escallonia did not do well and I have an older rhodo near by that has done fine and my neighbours hydrangeas do well, this may be an indication that I am closer to the woodland side of things. I loved a picture I saw of a Cistus; however, it sounds like I may need to move further south to get a really nice cistus bloom. Until that happens, I suspect I will keep on looking for something else to plant in my full sun area. Thanks again.
     
  7. Sabine

    Sabine Active Member

    Messages:
    37
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    If it gets that much sun, have you considered shrubby herbs, like lavender or rosemary? They would be evergreen, flower, and you'd have the benefit of wonderful smells and herbs for cooking. These seem like they would be about the right height for you, if you pick the right cultivar - some mature rosemarys can get very big, but lavenders stay about 3 feet or under, from what I have seen.
     
  8. Mike in North Vancouver

    Mike in North Vancouver Member

    Messages:
    16
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    North Vancouver
    Sabine, I hadn't considered shrubby herbs; but, you make a good point. I have quite a bit of lavender growing in another part of the yard, beside the house, and it grows quite well. For variety, I may check into some types of Rosemary. Thanks for the suggestion.
     
  9. Sabine

    Sabine Active Member

    Messages:
    37
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    Not a problem. I love rosemary because it smells amazing and has beautiful blue flowers during winter, when not much else is going on.
     
  10. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

    Messages:
    20,889
    Likes Received:
    626
    Location:
    WA USA (Z8)
    Look for Garden Design Illustrated by the Grants at a library or used book store and study their section about naturalistic character and their grouped lists of shrubs with similar naturalistic character and site requirements.
     
  11. Mike in North Vancouver

    Mike in North Vancouver Member

    Messages:
    16
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    North Vancouver
    Ron, thanks for the reference. Actually, I have finally studied the soil and sun exposure for a couple of areas in my garden and have realized that I have been adding some plants under the wrong assumptions. I am just planning some moves and have been poring over some garden design books lately and will look for the one you mentioned. Thanks again
     
  12. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

    Messages:
    20,889
    Likes Received:
    626
    Location:
    WA USA (Z8)
    Bigleaf hydrangea likes it damp, even though dahlias are doing well there in summer maybe during the winter it was too moist for the escallonia and viburnum. Spotting of broadleaf evergreens may indicate an excessively moist condition at the root. Apart from the full sun exposure (and possible drainage issues) if the pH there is 6.5-7.0 the spot may not suit a rhododendron.

    I post from two locations, there is a copy of the Grant book at this one:

    "The shrubs in the next group represent the middle range between the two extremes of dry and moist. Consequently they are shrubs which adapt themselves particularly readily to average conditions in a watered garden, although they prefer full sun. They have deep to medium green lustrous foliage and usually have bronze or coppery new growth. In some instances the bronze of the new foliage is such an intense color that it makes an effect even more spectacular than the flowers. One of the most noteworthy of these is the new foliage of Photinia glabra.

    Abelia grandiflora, schumanni
    Arbutus unedo (strawberry bush)
    Azalea ledifolia, macrantha
    Camellia sasanqua
    vars.
    Cotoneaster henryana
    Erica carnea
    vars., vagans vars., and hybrids (heather)
    Ilex cornuta, opaca, pernyi (holly)
    Mahonia aquifolium, nervosa (Oregon grape)
    Osmanthus ilicifolius

    Phillyrea decora
    Pernettya mucronata vars.
    Photinia serrulata, glabra
    Pieris floribunda, formosa (Andromeda)
    Pyracantha atalantioides, rogersiana, yunnanensis (fire thorn)
    Rhaphiolepis indica rosea
    Rhododendron (small-leaved species) augustinii, ciliatum, yunnanense"

    These are representations of types or groups, you will find that other specific ones have replaced some of these since the book was written; others of these are still to be found in nurseries but under different botanical names.

    Since you are featuring dahlias you may wish to focus on some of the above that produce autumn effects that could coincide with the flowering of the dahlias, perhaps the fruiting of the fire thorns for instance.
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2008
  13. Mike in North Vancouver

    Mike in North Vancouver Member

    Messages:
    16
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    North Vancouver
    Ron, I took out a couple of garden books from the library today including the one by the Grants. It looks interesting so thanks for mentioning it. I have been compiling a list of my own of plants that will do well in sun, and that tolerate low acid to alkaline soils. Haven't had a chance yet to match the list you provided to pictures so I will have to check things out. Your point about possible drainage issues is really interesting as well. Our house is near the top of a hill and our front yard has a concrete wall that assists to level off the yard. As noted in my first e-mail, the problem area is near the side of the wall. My neighbours yard is about 2.5 feet below. I would have thought that the water would flow down through the soil through to the street or my neighbours lot (and downward from there). However, perhaps the drains are blocked or the soil may be clay like down below and trapping the water. I am going to dig a couple of holes on the weekend and see how quickly things drain. Thanks for the tips they are mightly helpful!
     

Share This Page