The Q&A Archives: planter with a northern exposure

Question: We have a raised stone planter along the side of our house that is about 20' long x 2' deep and has a northern exposure, with dry/moist soil. I'm looking for hardy, low maintenance plants that will compliment the redwood shingles on the house, grow up to 3', and have some color. Any suggestions would be much appreciated.

Answer: Taunton yew shrubs grow about 3'-4' x 3'-4' and have attractive foliage all year around. They don't need maintenance pruning but you can prune to keep them smaller than their normal size. For a splash of color, Fringed Bleeding Heart (Dicentra eximia) has a feathery foliage and whimsical, heart-shaped blooms of a rosy pink color. This old-time perennial blooms continuously in the garden from April to October. Height 12"-18", width 12". You might also plant Heliotrope (Heliotropium arborescens) is a tender shrub often grown as an annual. It requires partial shade in hot summer areas and well-drained soil. It produces clusters of fragrant flowers in summer. Star jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides), a tender evergreen vine often grown as a groundcover. Star jasmine produces perfumed pure-white star-shaped blooms in summer. Trim it with hedge shears after it flowers to keep plants low and bushy. Begonias--many of which have showy variegated foliage--require ample moisture, partial shade and a fertile, well-draining soil. Keep plants' tips pinched back to encourage bushy, full growth. A final suggestion: Impatiens, popular shade-loving annuals, can also help highlight dark areas of the garden.

Best wishes with your garden!

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