The Q&A Archives: small area

Question: I only have a small area in front of my new home. All the houses look alike, how can I get color,height and variety in that small area?

Answer: I would overplant the area to get a burst of color all season long. You can include Ajuga (bugleflower): Generally used as an evergreen ground cover, ajuga is a spreading perennial only a few inches tall. It grows well in moist, shady areas. It will tolerate sun if adequate moisture is provided. Attractive blue flower spikes cover the plants in mid-spring. Several varieties are available with pink and white flowers and some with variegated or bronze foliage.

Aurinia saxatile (gold alyssum): Gold alyssum is frequently used in rock gardens and for edging. In early spring it blooms, producing a dense mat of yellow flowers 9 to 12 inches high. Full sun and excellent drainage are essential.

Anemone x hybrida (Japanese anemone): Unlike the tuberous, spring-flowering anemones, Japanese anemone flowers later on tall, wiry stems to 3 feet in height. Single and semi-double flowers range from white to deep pink. Moist, rich soils are best. Other species are also available.

Aster species and hybrids: Numerous species and varieties of asters are cultivated. Blooming from late summer to fall, height ranges from 1 to 5 feet. Almost all colors are represented. Many are so vigorous they require restraint. The Michaelmas daisies (A. novae-belgii) are common and easy to grow. A. X frikartii, a lavender-blue, flowers from June until frost.

Candytuft (Iberis sempervirens): Candytuft is frequently used in rock gardens, for edging and as a ground cover. Growing to a height of 10 to 12 inches, it produces a mass of white flowers in late spring. It is best in full sun, but will tolerate light shade, and is fairly drought tolerant once established. Do not confuse perennial candytuft with annual candytuft.

Carnation (Dianthus caryophyllus): This is the same species as the florist?s carnation. Garden varieties are selected for dwarf compact habits; most of them grow to a height of about 12 inches. Many colors are available. Carnation is very fragrant and an excellent garden cut flower.

Dianthus (pinks): Pinks are widely used in beds, borders, rock gardens, for edging and as cut flowers. Growing about 12 inches high, their blooms usually peak in late spring or early summer. Rose, pink and white predominate in the flower color range. The gray foliage is attractive and evergreen. D. deltoides, a low mat-forming plant, also performs well.

Gaura (Gaura lindheimeri): An interesting white-flowered perennial, gaura does best in hot, dry, full-sun locations. The thin, titanium-white flowers are borne on long, leafy stalks. The plants can get to 3 feet in diameter and become more attractive with each new season. Young plants may need staking and one mid-season cutback if grown in areas with less than six hours of full sun.

Heuchera (coral bells): Coral bells produce a rosette of foliage about 6 to 12 inches high, out of which tall airy flower spikes appear in late spring to early summer. Colors range from the familiar coral to pink, white and chartreuse.

Plant the tallest in the center of a free standing bed or in the back of the bed if it is adjacent to a fence or a building. Fill in around the perennials with seasonal annuals and you will always have a riot of color in your yard. Enjoy!

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