The Q&A Archives: Garden Ideas

Question: I am a novice gardener and I need advice. At the back of my house, I have a planter (28x64x16)and a ground level planting area (2x11 with a 4.5 foot wood fence behind it). Both areas get full sun then shade later the day. I am very much interested in planting gardenias in the 2x11 strip and a calamondin in the planter. For the gardenias, I plan to plant 3 staked everblooming gardenias and 2 unstaked mystery gardenias in between. I am unsure if it will be too much gardenia and how the combination of staked and low will look when the plants grow bigger. With regards to the calamondin, I am worried if the planter is large enough for it. The palm tree that used to be in the planter has left it with large cracks. I choose the 2 plants because of its fragrance and the many uses of the citrus fruit. However, I am open to any suggestion that works and low maintenance. Thank you so much!

Answer: In a sunny site with reflected heat from a wooden fence I'm afraid gardenias would not perform well. You didn't mention how deep the planter is. That information is important as some perennials have very deep root systems and others have shallow roots. If it's at least 12" deep, you can plant most any of the following: Lavender, basil, thyme, sage, dill, chives, lemon verbena, mint, oregano, rosemary, and parsley can be combined with flowers such as nasturtiums, violas, zinnias, portulaca, scaevola, geraniums, and dahlias. These herbs and flowers need full sun, which means at least 6 hours a day. Citrus would be happy in your yard and you get the double bonus of fragrant flowers along with tasty fruit. For even more ideas, let me recommend a great book on the subject: Container Gardening For Dummies by Bill Marken and the Editors of National Gardening Magazine (for more info, check out This takes you through the whole process of design, planting, care, etc. Best of luck and have fun!

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