Sunday, July 8, 2012

Love Those Shrubs

I've had a border next to the driveway here since we moved in during the summer of 1978. It started out with lots of violets and iris next to the neighbor's lawn. I was forever weeding her lawn grass out of my garden until one year I got totally sick and tired of it and dug out all the iris and grass roots and started over again. It was a much longer and more difficult challenge to eliminate all the violets from that patch of ground but finally that was accomplished. I planted more perennials and added ground covers like sedum and ajuga but that strip of garden was a lot of work to maintain.  During the early 2000's I met some very talented gardeners on the GardenWeb forums and from that association I learned about including shrubs in one's perennial borders and it changed my thinking of what can be planted in a garden forever.  This section of the driveway garden was the first to get transformed with shrubs and I love it more every year, especially because of the ease of maintenance and with the dwarf conifers it has year round interest.

The Chamaecyparis pisifera on the extreme right of the photo was the first shrub I planted in this border almost ten years ago and it anchors that end of the garden.  To the left of that is a young Ilex crenata 'Sky Pencil' (Sky Pencil Holly) just hitting its stride and it's now about six feet. Nex to that Pinus parviflora 'Glauca Nana' (Dwarf Japanese White Pine) and Picea orientalis 'Bergman's Gem' (Bergman's Gem Oriental Spruce). To the front of the birdbath is a Thuja occidentalis 'Bobozam' (Mr. Bowling Ball™ Arborvitae). Behind the birdbath is a Fargesia rufa (Rufa Clumping Bamboo). 

These dwarf evergreens look great in every season and I only have to do a bit of pruning each spring.  They are disease and insect free and the voles don't bother them. What's not to love? As time goes by I'm foresee my replacing more and more of the fussy perennials with these beauties.


  1. Yes! Beauty with ease of upkeep becomes more and more the goal for me these days. Just so hard to get rid of the old things I still love, though sharing with friends at least means they'll be appreciated.
    Of course these shrubs are an addiction of their own! ;) One I love is Thuja 'Sherwood Moss'.

  2. Yes, structure and four season interest with minimal effort. I didn't start adding more shrubs to my garden until I started spending time in Monique's. Now I'm always on the lookout for for more. And now with my garden at pretty much full capacity I'm starting to look at what I can take out and replace with something better. It's a never ending process but that's what keeps us coming back.

  3. Thanks Marie and Sue, so true, "beauty with ease of upkeep" is what I'm looking for these days as well and Sue, like yourself I never really looked at shrubs until I saw your and Monique's gardens. So much interest for a long season without constant upkeep (like stripping daylily foliage) I'm going to replace one of my older clumps of lilies with another hydrangea. I'm so done with the lily beetles. I'll keep a few very special clumps of lilies like my Taragonnas but as the voles eat them I'm not replacing them.

  4. I can't wait to see what you do with the mailbox garden extension..what potential that has ! But can it ever live up to the standard set in the Driveway Garden ? I guess we'll see !

    1. Oh boy, the pressure is on -It might look as good as the driveway garden in twenty years or so... LOL

  5. What is the purple desiduous bush with the small pink flowers in the center behind the clay flower pot?

  6. Hi Jeff, that's a Euphorbia cotinifolia, not hardy in Zone 5. I prune it back and bring it in the house in the fall every year.