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....
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