Friday, July 30, 2010

The Northside Shrub Border Walk Around

Today I thought I'd talk of my long Northside Shrub Border. I am the kind of person who likes my boundaries in all facets of my life. My home is my paradise and I want to enjoy every bit of it-in privacy. I find it odd I blog about it all though. Anyhow, all borders of my one acre lot have gardens. This particular border is along the northern property line in the front yard. The length of this garden is 97 feet long by 11 feet wide, except in the corners where it curves around and can be as wide as 20+ feet. We will start our walk coming out of the back gate on the north side of my home. I designed this border more as a shrub border but I can't deny any perennials so they are tucked in here in each vacant and almost vacant spot. Upon exiting the gate you are bordered on the right by the house and its north foundation bed, on the left begins the Northside Shrub border. You are first met by a gigantic 'Mt. Airy' viburnum. I have posted on this viburnum a few times in the past. It is a keeper. In fact, I like it so much and it has done so well I've decided to make this corner of the Northside Shrub Border into a viburnum corner. I am hoping for good cross pollination in order to grow more berries on my viburnums. So far cross pollination has escaped me and very few berries grow:(
Next to the viburnum is a 'Tardiva' hydrangea paniculata that is just
beginning to bloom. I love the paniculata hydrangeas as they do so well and bloom during a low time in the summer garden. I then placed a doublefile viburnum next to the hydrangea and finally the deep dark corner is anchored by a red twig dogwood. Now we turn the corner and get a bit closer to the curve. You cannot see all of the shrubs I talk about but they are on your left behind the grass. I could not get the entire corner of this border in one photo.

Walking a bit further out into the yard we come closer to the corner and see the privacy fence that marks the northern boundary. We see that fence very clearly because all shrubs I've tried to grow here have been dismal failures. This corner of the garden is fairly shady and the evergreens I've desired to grow here are not liking the shade. I recently replaced them with more viburnums; which are too small to be seen. The first one to the left of the red ladder and along the fence is a 'Shasta' doublefile viburnum, next to this is a golden 'Vicary' privet (you can see part of it under the blue star) and then the silverberry is next in the row. One word of warning on silverberries; while they are listed as non-toxic I was stabbed with a few thorns while pruning this shrub. The thorns were about 3/4" of an inch long and fairly small, but the wound caused by them is at least a quarter of inch wide and is slow to heal. It is not pretty so watch out for those thorns if you grow these (Skeeter).

Do you see all those perennials close to the grass? That corner is very deep and has been reconfigured to make the exactly perfect curve for my lawnmower no less than two times. The perennials are in there for fillers for now. A second layer of shrubs fronts the back layer that runs along the fence. In this layer are: mophead hydrangeas, a paniculata hydrangea, 'Emerald Triumph' viburnum, and an arrowood viburnum (Thanks Dave!). This particular area is a primary view from my home office. I anticipate that in a few years it will positively glow and smell strongly once the viburnums grow in. As an added bonus to the white flowers, the viburnums have awesome fall color, and let's not forget those berries (with good cross pollination hopefully). For now though the primary focus of this area is perennials. There are about seven peonies, several 'Blue star' amsonias, daylilies, coneflowers, 'Joe Pye' weed, river oats, catmint, verbena, lilies, yarrow and shasta daisies growing with free abandon in this corner. I find these plants do okay with mostly shade and only a few hours of sun. The whole character of this bed will slowly change as the shrubs mature and the little bit of sun and room the perennials get now disappears. Tree roots and dryness are not big issues for this corner because run off from the lawn goes into this corner helping with moisture, and the trees growing nearby are lovely oaks; which I find to be hospitable to perennials growing under them. I love the soil in this corner but there is just not enough sun so the area is challenging for me.
Here is the same corner looking west. To give you a frame of reference the silverberry is the gray/silver shrub that sticks out the farthest on the right hand side of this picture. The privacy fence is behind these shrubs. Right next to the silverberry is a tall red tip photina. You can see where all the shade comes from. We have a lot of shade trees in the form of oaks, a hickory, cedars, and a maple and black tupelo. We love the trees but boy do they present challenges for gardening for me. I think all gardens need a tree-or do all trees need a garden? Anyhow, that is my philosophy here at Tiger Gardens. The round garden to the left in this picture is the Crabapple Garden. I have not done a long post on it but have posted pictures from it before. It is undergoing a change in that hostas are slowly replacing the irises and other sun loving perennials here.
A longer view of the northside shrub border looking west again. Once we leave the red tip photinia we find a mock orange shrub. I am not a big fan of these shrubs. They are very pretty in bloom in the spring but mine does not smell and it looks nondescript for the rest of the year. I am thinking its days are numbered. You can barely see it but there is an American flag painted on a window and mounted to the fence. That is the division between two different phases of this garden. It is also a fairly sunny area. I have a small holly planted below the flag that will slowly grow in. Next to it there is a row of Chinese variegated privet. These guys were planted for privacy prior to the fence being built. I tried to give them all away this spring but had no takers. This particular privet does not seem to be invasive, though once it is in place it is set to stay there for awhile. I have decided to leave them in place because the white lightens up this dark area and the privet actually do well in the difficult dry soil in this area. Even of the area was not shady the soil is bone dry and root congested due to two tulip poplars growing in my neighbor's yard. Have you ever seen the roots on tulip poplars? They are fibrous and quite invasive and not at all like the roots on an oak tree. I love the trees but hate those roots. I think tulip poplars are trees that need to be grown in big big yards. Our yards here in my neighborhood are not that big. That being said my neighbors have the right to grow whatever they desire so I have to work around the trees. The garden to the left by the concrete wall is my 'Walled Garden'. It is under a cedar tree and is filled with paniculata hydrangeas that I propagated. Those hydrangeas are doing well and I am hoping for a bloom this year (after nearly five years!) Also in the walled garden is an oak tree. This area provides heavy shade to the Northside Shrub border where the privet grow. The only saving grace is the fact that during high summer the sun passes directly overhead of the border so, as of today, there is still a gap between my cedar and oak and the neighbor's tulip poplars so that the border gets a bit of sun. As the sun sinks in the south though that bit of sun disappears. I had started this border with mums and daylilies but just gave up and switched to mostly hostas.

Here we are again looking west along the border. There is a lot of texture and color in this border but it is such a challenge that sometimes I just throw up my hands in despair. The rest of the gardens except one, are not standard borders such as this one. I prefer the informal shapes and contours to the long straight borders but this particular area called for a straight border because of the slope of the yard and the placement of the trees we left in place. We did cut down about ten mature trees from the frontyard including one in this very garden we are looking at now. Once that tree and the others were cut down it made the remaining trees so much happier that they decided to grow at triple rate and fill in the slots vacated by their lost fellow trees. There goes the sun....

Now we are backing up toward the road to the east but still looking west-north-west. My neighbor's house is barely visible behind the fence. It was a completely different looking yard when we first moved here nine years ago. There was no division and no privacy. Boy, did those shrubs grow fast and the garden sure changed the look of the yard.

Now this is the eastern corner of the Northside Shrub Border. One might think its conditions would be similar to the first corner we started with but not so. They couldn't be more different. This corner borders the state highway my home sits on. You can just barely see the road behind the plants and split rail fence behind my bowling ball tree. This corner also gets a bit more sun than the western corner because the sun is not blocked by the house or other tall trees, though there is a border of silverberries running along the road. I theorized sedum would do well here. It hasn't done as well as I'd like but it holds its own. I also have lilac bushes, five small cleyera, a dwarf Alberta spruce, a chaste tree, and a beach vitex, as well as a red tip photinia growing here. The blueberries are also here. The main challenge with this area is the extreme dryness of the soil due to the tulip poplars coupled with sun. Coneflowers, daylilies, beebalm, 'Goldsturm' and a few other perennials do okay. None really thrive but I am trying to let the shrubs grow in to see how we progress with them.

Here is a longer shot of the corner showing the perennials. I think I need more structure here and less maintenance but I've really struggled to make it right. I understand gardens are a work in progress. This one bed is shown as it looked in mid June. It has changed even more since then but I promise you all no one wants to see the sad and dry plants residing there now. My whole garden is pretty sad because we are bone dry here.

I know this post does not fully show the depth and probably does not give the feel of this border but it helps me to remember what is planted where and how this garden looks at this particular time....and if you are still with me-thanks!

in the garden....

On the recent poll it appears as though everyone who voted is fairly evenly split on reading garden blogs for both the photos and the information provided. That's why I read blogs too so that makes sense and thanks for voting. Everyone have a great weekend.

Words and Photos Property of In the Garden Blog Team,

In the Garden


  1. What a great tour! A nice way to start my morning. We too appreciate our privacy. I did not want to be in a fishbowl for everyone to see.

    You've created some wonderful garden areas and this border is great. I love all the diversity.

    Have a great weekend ~ FlowerLady

  2. Your garden looks so lovely in the photos. It is hard to imagine you have only been there nine years when you see how lush everything is.

    Always Growing

  3. We have several viburnum also. I can't quite figure out the berry thing. Seems we have berries more than once a season - and beautifully scented blossoms in the spring. We call one particular set "the three sisters" because they are planted like a trio along the fence in our backyard.

    I will return to this post frequently. We are wanting to increase our privacy w/o investing in a fence. You've succeeded in producing some very attractive boundaries!

  4. Flowerlady, Thanks! No fishbowl here for sure.

    Jan, Thanks! The plants have grown fast. I find it so hard to believe I've been here nine years too-but love the stability.

    Rebecca, Those viburnums are a fickle bunch with berries. I love them but geez I just can't get it right with them. The fence we adore. Honestly though we hardly see any of our fences due to all the plants. I told the neighbors, hey, landscaping works great if you don't like my fence:) Honestly some folks don't want to be fenced in but with dogs and kids I feel so much safer with the fences and they make great backdrops for gardens.

  5. Pretty big bed! They all must keep you very busy. Looks great!

  6. I've never seen your garden from this perspective, so it is a lovely tour for our enjoyment. Looks like your paradise is perfect.

  7. Oh wow my Georgia friend, I love your garden and yard, so beautiful with so many different flowers in it, just breath taking, I will be back to see your other pages, bless you my new friend and Sister Georgian. Hugs Barbara from

  8. Tina I love when I get to stroll through your garden. It's all so pretty. Now I can get a better picture knowing the size. Ours is almost the same - just a tad under an acre. You've done a lot of work in 9 years. Thanks for another great post.

  9. The pictures look very impressive! I'm glad you found good spot for the viburnum. The birds will love it once it starts making berries! I'm a fan of the Shasta viburnum too. Thanks for the link!

  10. Don't you wish you had 'before' pictures? I never take photos before I start a project and am always sorry. It would be fun to compare.

    Interesting about the mock orange. I always thought I wanted one. Thinking mostly of the fragrance and the blooms.

  11. Oh my goodness, I do not know how you keep track of all the plants. It is taxing my brain just to read it all. Since I have been there many times I know this one is only one side of the other 3 sides and all the middle ones. I would have lost many names a long time ago.

    I also hope you have a good weekend, along with all the other great bloggers out there.

  12. Tina, I like and respect your flower and personal borders, lol! Aren't viburnum wonderful? It took a few years for my viburnums to put out fruit, but they never flowered when they were little. I didn't realize they require cross pollination, but I have a ton of viburnums and a ton of bees--which is handy because I'm lazy! ;-)

  13. Good afternoon! I miss my garden views while sitting on the computer but now I have the Rock Garden, Patio and Bird feeders in sight. I will have more then enough to keep me happy I reckon.....

    This is a great reference post for you Tina! You have so much in the garden and I do like the way the fence is being hidden by the plants. I agree that fences make for better neighbors but they can be so ugly. You have done a wonderful job of keeping your fenced in yard beautiful to the eye. When I am in your gardens, I never really see the fences for all the other fun and beautiful things growing or that have been created by your hands!

    Thanks for the warning on the Silver Berry bushes :-) They are doing great where we planted them per your suggestion. They are growing a bit wild and will need a second pruning but that is fine by me as they are finally starting to hide the ugly next door. Hey, speaking of them, they have been doing a good job of mowing this summer. They have taught their son how to mow and he seems to be enjoying it. Yippee, I am a happier camper....

    Everyone have a Great Weekend!!!

  14. You and Mr. Fix-It have done a lot in nine years, Tina! My goodness! Everything looks beautiful, and I agree with you that contours really make the difference. I need to figure out a way to change the look of our long, narrow acre with some more shapely curves. It would certainly help the curb appeal. I got a letter in the mail the other day from a realtor wanting us to list with him, and he gave some statistic about landscaping helping to increase the value of a home more than just about anything else.

  15. Hi all, Been busy house hunting for daughter and today was great compared to the dumps we looked at prior today I saw some mansions! Put in an offer everyone cross your fingers it is accepted.

    Dawn, You just don't know how busy. This is only one small garden of many:) I really must downsize but am instead designing a new one since our pool goes tomorrow!

    Cameron, It is so hard to see the garden on a blog really. This is one small area and I tried to walk thru it. The long shots are definitely different seeing a huge garden. At least I can remember what is what now too:)

    Barbara, Hello and welcome all the way from Georgia! I am Tina, and I am in Tennessee. Skeeter posts on Tuesdays and Thursdays and she lives in Georgia so she is much closer to you. But hey, Georgia is just right next door to Tennessee. Glad you like the garden and have a great weekend!

    Linda, It is very hard to give the size and scope of gardens on blogs but we can try. I would've guessed you had more than one acre from your pics!

    Dave, Hopefully it will grow well-I've been having to water everything-urgh!

    Marnie, I actually do have before photos. I'm not sure if I posted that particular one view or not but I might be due for another before after post. I love those posts best! Mock orange is not worth the spot in my opinion. Get you a nice viburnum for year round interest. The mock oranges are not all fragrant so if you do buy one, buy it in bloom so you can smell it. It is boring when not in bloom.

    Mom, It gets hard keeping track of it all. Fortunately these plants have been around long enough that they are ingrained in my head. Not so the other musical shrubs:) Have a great weekend too. Hopefully we'll hear something about the offer I put in on a house for Christine.

    Monica, Thank you so much! We all need borders right? Growing up with three younger sisters probably makes me more worried about my area than normal but hey, that is just the way it is:) Most viburnums are not self fertile but a few cultivars are. Funny thing is viburnums have male and female flowers on the plants (normally) so you'd think they'd be self fertile but they are not. My instructor in horticulture school always says Mother Nature need diversity so it is on purpose that living things have to go out and find a mate:) Gotta mix up the genetic pool you see.

    Skeeter, Yup, a reference for sure. I have to rework the east corner so that may change but most of the rest will stay put. I'm excited about designing-actually drawing out a new garden-I need to do it for this border too one of these days but each time I try to work it I just think it looks okay in person. Sigh. So glad your neighbors are doing better. I have some awesome ones too who have mowed their yard more times this year than the previous owners did in three years! I feel your pain girl. Have a great weekend.

    W2W, Mr. Fix-it has done a lot here in 9 years but he has so NOT ever touched the gardens. This is all me with my trusty little shovel and back power. lol He'd love the compliment though so I must pass it on to him. Funny thing about plants-they grow! I never realized it when I planted little on gallon sized things a few years ago. Perennials? Never had enough to go around now I have too much. Sigh. Have a great weekend. Looking forward to seeing you all Labor Day weekend if we can swing it. I'll email you.

  16. Your gardens are so pretty. I really enjoy seeing the pics. Sure wish I had had the chance to see them in person. You would never have got rid of me. lol
    92º now---just started to thunder a little. Maybe some rain to cool it off a bit.
    I hope all have a wonderful weekend.

  17. Funny about the privacy issue. I am the same way.

    I hope my borders fill in someday as nicely as yours have. I wish I had started this earlier so my shrubs would be more established.

  18. I'm amazed you have your whole acre planted. It looks and sounds great. I have 5 acres. 92 percent of it is dense spruce poplar fir pine forest. The rest is buildings clover and gardens. My soil is clay so it is an uphill battle getting things to grow to their full potential. Maybe one day :)

  19. Thanks for the tour, Tina! I love the layered look of your borders.They look very natural.

  20. You have so much planting space! It all looks great. I enjoyed the old post on the Red-Tip. I planted three of them against my house in the back yard this spring.


  21. It must be heavenly to have so much space for all your wonderful plants. I am not patient with waiting for things to grow in, so I like your filler perennials you're using while the shrubs get established.
    Tulip poplars... I wonder if that's the type of poplar I saw a neighbor recently try to cut down. Talk about invasive - ever since the tree came down, the yard has been sprouting a mini-forest from the underground root system. It's a scary sight.

  22. Thanks for giving us a tour of this area of your garden. I love how deep and full your beds are right now. As a gardener I always am looking at mine and trying to figure out to improve them too. :)

  23. I loved the tour! You are so lucky to have such a nice big yard with so much room to garden in. I'd love to have a big shrub border like yours, and I'd also have lots of Viburnums if I did. Gardening under trees sure can be tricky, but you're right every garden does need a tree.
    It was fun to see more of your yard.

  24. you are very organized Tina and also patient, characteristics not included as my good points.

  25. Tina, I was reading this last night and got interrupted, so I just had to come back this morning and take the rest of the tour. The amount of time and effort you have put into your garden never fails to amaze me--I'm still stuck on the fact that this garden is 97 feet long! I don't know if you put all my flowerbeds end to end that they would even reach 90 feet:) I'm most impressed with how you've faced all the challenges of different conditions and keep tweaking plantings to see what works. A great gardening lesson for us all.

    P.S. My garden looks pretty sad right now, too. Only the weeds in the butterfly garden seem to like the heat and dry conditions this summer:)