Ask a Question forum: garden ideas - would like your help picking the best flowers!

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Name: Gary
Cincinnati Ohio (Zone 6a)
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Gschnettler
Aug 13, 2016 5:00 PM CST
I've decided to make 4 rectangles in my front yard for flowers. Each rectangle will be 4 feet by 6 feet. Each rectangle will be separated from the others by a 2x6 foot rectangle of rocks and bricks. The front of all of those rectangles will border the sidewalk and the back will be up against a retaining wall. it'd be nice to conceal the retaining wall at least a little.

I am thinking that it would be best to put 2 flower types in each 4x6 area...a shorter plant in front, and a taller plant in back. That'll be 8 plant types total. I also think it would be nice if they bloomed at different times, so we have flowers from spring through fall. I could do some annuals but I'd like to do mostly perennials.

I think the hardest part will be trying to find pairs that play nicely with each other, so that one plant doesn't try to overtake the other plants space. Each plant should stick to it's assigned 4x3 area and they should be evenly matched so that they yield to each other and, for the most part, play nicely with one another.

I have a lot of people walking by my house and I'd like at least some of them to stop and say, wow, those are some really pretty and unusual flowers.

I live in Cincinnati Zone 6 and the rectangles will get sun from the south and west. They'll be in shade in the morning. and they'll also get some shade from a medium sized tree that sits to the south of this area. I have Sedum and Catmint growing there now and they are both doing great. It seems that the catmint is growing rapidly and may overwhelm the Sedum, which is what started getting me thinking.

Looking forward to your suggestions!

- Gary
Name: Elena
NYC (Zone 7a)
Daylilies Hybridizer Peonies Vegetable Grower Seed Starter Organic Gardener
Composter Container Gardener Celebrating Gardening: 2015 I helped beta test the first seed swap
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bxncbx
Aug 13, 2016 5:13 PM CST
I'm not sure if I can help you since I mostly grow annuals but I have some questions that might help people give you better suggestions. How tall do you want the taller plants to get? Do you want the shorter plants to be a lot shorter than them or say half the height? Do you start your own seeds? Or would you need to order plants online or go to a nursery? If so, if cost an issue? Are you interested in biennials if they bloom the first year and/or reseed? How unusual do you want the plants to be? Something no one would recognize or maybe something people know but in a different form or unusual color? Answers to questions like these might make it easier for people to steer you to the right plants for your yard. I envy your blank slate!
Name: Gary
Cincinnati Ohio (Zone 6a)
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Gschnettler
Aug 13, 2016 5:25 PM CST
those are all good questions. And, annuals are ok! it's fine with me if one or even 2 of the rectangles are annuals, or if a rectangle consists of 1 annual and 1 perennial.

for height I want the front/shorter plants to be between 18-30 inches. The rear plants should be taller than the front plants so you can see them, up to a max height of say 4 or 5 feet.

Seeds - yes, I try to start all of my plants from seed, but I'll make an exception for something really good.

biennial? I'd like them to bloom every year, not every other year. right?

unusualness - just something uncommon and pretty. most people don't know anything about flowers so they're just going to notice if it's pretty. let's just avoid things like tulips, daisies, black eyed susans, purple coneflowers and roses.

Price - don't care that much...seeds are pretty cheap. let's say price is no object for now.

thanks for asking clarifying questions!
[Last edited by Gschnettler - Aug 13, 2016 5:29 PM (+)]
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Name: woofie
NE WA (Zone 5a)
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woofie
Aug 13, 2016 5:41 PM CST
How about some easy annuals? Cosmos in back, zinnias in front, with maybe some alyssum and petunias in front of the zinnias?
Confidence is that feeling you have right before you do something really stupid.
Name: Greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
Rabbit Keeper Critters Allowed Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages
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greene
Aug 13, 2016 5:51 PM CST
I understand there is a retaining wall at the back but is the area where the beds are flat or sloped? It might help if you could show a photo of the entire front yard so we can see the existing plants/trees, etc. and how the beds will be viewed from the sidewalk or street. Thank You!

Do you have any color preference?
Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~~"Leaf of Faith"
Name: Sharon Rose
Grapevine, TX (Zone 8a)
Grace of the Lord Jesus be with all
Daylilies Garden Art Irises Region: Texas Clematis Lilies
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Altheabyanothername
Aug 13, 2016 6:32 PM CST
I live in Texas so I might not be much help. But I will throw these three out there, they are show stoppers. The first is the easiest to grow and reliable to come back-- lilium. Check out the lily forum great pictures!
The second would be peonies. They are beauties once established. The flowers that I get the most comments on are clematis-- large jackmanii type. They are more vertical. People think they are hard, but the secret is a strong rootball forming before you let them bloom. These would do great in your area and once established easy to take care of. May your endeavors be blessed!
Name: Gary
Cincinnati Ohio (Zone 6a)
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Gschnettler
Aug 14, 2016 5:14 AM CST
Ok, here are some pictures. You can see the Catmint and Sedum in the middle. And the ugly retaining wall. The bush on the left will have to go. The camera was facing East for this picture. Also included is a top view. And you can see that the ground down slope down a little from left to right (north to south) but it feels pretty flat when you are standing on it.

And no, I don't have a color preference. But it would be nice if everything was bright and colorful.

Thanks again for your help!


Thumb of 2016-08-14/Gschnettler/61be9b
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Name: Elena
NYC (Zone 7a)
Daylilies Hybridizer Peonies Vegetable Grower Seed Starter Organic Gardener
Composter Container Gardener Celebrating Gardening: 2015 I helped beta test the first seed swap
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bxncbx
Aug 14, 2016 11:32 AM CST
Now that I know better your preferences I'd say you have lots of possible choices!

For your taller plant you might try dahlias. They form tubers that you could dig & replant. But you can also grow them from seed each year and they will bloom. Another plus is that they start blooming around now when lots of plants are winding down.

Since you are into growing things from seeds I'd suggest that you consider joining a seed swap. You can get lots of different types of seeds for very little money. And since typically they are seeds collected from someone's garden you can ask them all sorts of questions about the plant before you bid on the seeds. It's also a lot of fun!
Name: woofie
NE WA (Zone 5a)
Charter ATP Member Garden Procrastinator Greenhouse Dragonflies Plays in the sandbox I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
The WITWIT Badge I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Dog Lover Enjoys or suffers cold winters Container Gardener Seed Starter
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woofie
Aug 14, 2016 1:55 PM CST
And how do you feel about roses? A mix of climbing roses and clematis could be very nice for the back row. And you could use a different variety of annuals each year for the front row to keep things interesting.
Confidence is that feeling you have right before you do something really stupid.
Name: Greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
Rabbit Keeper Critters Allowed Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages
Herbs Region: Georgia Region: United States of America Native Plants and Wildflowers Dog Lover Composter
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greene
Aug 14, 2016 4:46 PM CST
Thanks for the photos. I can really get a feel for the area now. I took one look and said, "Orange, yellow and white would brighten it up!"

Dahlia, Peony, Lilium, Hemerocallis, Roses, Clematis are all excellent suggestions with annuals for another pop of color.

Here are two photos taken by Spencer Barrett of the University of Toronto (used on ATP/NGA with his permission).


I like the look of Creeping Phlox even though it is much shorter than you might want.


Edited to fix link to photos.
Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~~"Leaf of Faith"
[Last edited by greene - Aug 14, 2016 6:16 PM (+)]
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