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Avatar for Mariepet18
May 28, 2020 10:01 PM CST
Thread OP
Brooklyn (Zone 7b)
Hi everyone,

I am looking to plant a few bushes in the front of our house. I am
Seriously new to everything about gardening, learning as I go along. I apologize in advance if some of my requests seem ridiculous, I honestly don't know any better. We live in Brooklyn, NY so that you can understand the weather conditions here. I would love to plant a few bushes (4ft tall and higher) that would give me beautiful flowers in spring or preferably late spring and lasting throughout the summer until cold. I'm not sure if that's even possible...Flowers that don't go everywhere in the front of the house to the neighbors house, etc (our houses in brooklyn don't have a lot of space in between)I really need the bushes to be somewhat full? So that they cover a few windows in the front as well. I can get several, that's not an issue. I'd also need them to be evergreen throughout the entire winter here because otherwise that area would be very naked with the windows.

Once again, looking for any assistance with my crazy demands. Thank you for all of your patience and help! Apologies, again!

Currently I've looked into to rhododendrons.But I'm not sure if they stay evergreen in New York City.
Last edited by Mariepet18 May 28, 2020 10:08 PM Icon for preview
May 28, 2020 10:09 PM CST
Northern NJ (Zone 7a)
When everything opens, just go over to the Brooklyn Botanical Garden or even NYBG in the Bronx and pick out your favorite. Also, the highline.
Avatar for oneeyeluke
May 30, 2020 1:16 AM CST
Name: one-eye-luke US.Vet.
Texas (Zone 8a)
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If you get rhododendrons make sure you match your soil pH with the rhododendrons. They need a acidic soil with a pH of 4.5 to 5.8 to flower. If you don't have acidic soil you may just want to get a type of holly or something to match your soil and growing conditions. Ask someone local at the nursery to match your soil and growing conditions. .
NOT A EXPERT! Just a grow worm! I never met a plant I didn’t love.✌
Avatar for PlantingOaks
Jun 3, 2020 8:49 AM CST
central ohio (Zone 5b)
Rhododendrons are the only flowering northern evergreen I can think of.

If a rhododendron looses its leaves in the winter, that means it is dead Sad they are always evergreen (except maybe some oddball cultivars and species, but not the common ones used in gardens)

one-eye-luke is definitely right about soil requirements. Rhododendrons are something where you definitely want a soil test so you can amend appropriately before planting.

I find ilex opaca a particularly attractive (though non-flowering) evergreen.

Other than that, maybe a dwarf conifer of some sort? I don't have much experience there, so I can't make specific recommendations.

If you are willing to compromise on the evergreen, there are many more flowering shrubs to choose from, some with dense growth that will still provide a screen while dormant.
Jun 3, 2020 9:16 AM CST
Name: Elena
NYC (Zone 7a)
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I have little to no advice on which shrubs you should purchase. But I can give you some general advice. You need to figure out the growing conditions of the area you want to put them. Is it full sun (6-8 hours a day)? Or part sun/part shade? Lots of plants flower well in full sun but sparsely if they get too much shade. They may also not grow to the normal height or width.

How much space are we talking about and how close is it to the foundation? Do you want to have shrubs with vigorous root systems invading your foundation and potentially your pipes? Some pictures of the area would help. Is the area fenced? I've had people enter my fenced yard to cut my flowers (this is NYC) so anything really pretty that isn't fenced will probably not last too long. You might want to opt for a shrub that doesn't flower.

How willing/easy is it for you to water the area on a regular basis? Do you have an outside faucet or will you need to use watering cans? It will take awhile for a shrub to get settled and you'll need to provide water during dry spells.

Are you able/willing to prune your shrubs? If you are looking for something 4 ft or taller you may find that they spread a bit more than you would like and will need to prune them to keep them under control. You also might not want them to completely block your windows just as a safety issue. I'd opt for curtains or blinds instead.
Avatar for WolfgangM
Jun 11, 2020 9:18 AM CST

I haven't been through Brooklyn in many years, but have lived in NJ so I am kind of familiar with the weather situation... which is why I am now in Florida. Big Grin However, it's not just what you buy but how it is put together that really makes the landscaping pop. The people at Ideas4Land have all sorts of ideas. I just came across a review of their work at Choice Property Solutions DIY blog.
Jun 11, 2020 10:10 PM CST
Name: John
Scott County, KY (Zone 5b)
You can't have too many viburnums..
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I am only commenting in passing, and do not have any particular comments for the original poster.

I do want to vigorously object to the position that Rhododendron sp. are the only flowering evergreen plants for the north (all the native Kalmia are currently scowling). Additionally, many Holly species (Ilex sp.), Japanese Pieris (Pieris japonica), and a few Magnolia species like Sweetbay (Magnolia virginiana var. australis) will be evergreen in many coastal northerly places like Brooklyn.

As a proud former officer in the Holly Society of America, I take particular affront to the idea that Ilex opaca is "...a particularly attractive (though non-flowering) evergreen...". Did someone glue those incredibly attractive red fruit onto those branches?

Though often not always showy, American Holly indeed DOES flower - and is highly fragrant and a huge favorite of bees, at that. Say hello to a few examples...

Thumb of 2020-06-12/ViburnumValley/307ece

Thumb of 2020-06-12/ViburnumValley/9b3c45

Thumb of 2020-06-12/ViburnumValley/9394ce

Thumb of 2020-06-12/ViburnumValley/ac3458

Thumb of 2020-06-12/ViburnumValley/9f31c7

"Any questions?" (that's what the last image is saying)
Jun 19, 2020 8:16 PM CST
Northern NJ (Zone 7a)
Lol! Yes holly is a beauty as well as everything else you listed, VV, but I do have an issue with holly. The pointy leaves hurt my dogs paws and he will just stand there lifting his pawas until I pick him up and carry him away.
Cherry Laurel is a good full broadleaf evergreen. What is more important, evergreen and privacy or flowers?
Avatar for SkirtGardener
Nov 25, 2020 4:43 PM CST
Name: SkirtGardener
Central Pennsylvania (Zone 5a)
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I don't know if you need a plant for shade or sun, but Rose of Sharon (which needs sun) flowers from July till frost (and there are some sterile cultivars that won't throw seedlings), and the right Hydrangea can flower from late spring till frost (taking shade to sun). Of course, both of those are deciduous... hmm. What do you think about variegated foliage? I found an Ebbing's Silverberry (cultivar 'Viveleg') that is evergreen, variegated, blooms very fragrant though inconspicuous flowers in late fall, and gives edible fruit in early spring! It grows up to 10' and can take shade to sun I think.

If you put a few variegated evergreens (thinking Silverberry) between a few non-variegated flowering deciduous (thinking hydrangea), you could maybe have a nice year-round display that offers everything you're looking for.

Just in case this helps. Smiling
Learning to work with Mother Nature rather than against her, such that the more I harvest with thankfulness, the more she will most gladly and willingly provide.
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Jan 23, 2021 3:21 PM CST
Name: Alice K
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (Zone 6b)
I just posted a similar reply to someone looking for hollies. Have you considered the Oregon grape holly (Berberis aquifolia or Mahonia aquifolia)? I am in love with this shrub. Shiny, evergreen holly- like leaves, bright yellow flowers in spring, some red color in fall, and clusters of grape-like berries fall through winter. My 5 year old bush is about 4' tall by 4' wide with minimal pruning or care. I am in zone 6 in Pittsburgh, and it is in partial shade on the north side of the house, partly protected by the porch. I'd post a pic, but I haven't figured out how to do that! Good luck!
Jan 23, 2021 3:34 PM CST
Name: Big Bill
Livonia Michigan (Zone 6a)
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The best choice is Rose of Sharon.
It fills the requirements stated for growth and is easily pruned. It has by far the longest bloom season.
Rhododendrons are gorgeous but have a short bloom season.
Azaleas bloom a short time as well but would be challenged to meet the height requirements.
I love the American Holly idea but flowers are very small and short lived.
Dogwoods are a possibility as is Redbud.
Check out Kousa Dogwood as well.
Magnolia is another great idea but select a compact grower if possible.

I lived on neighboring Long Island, western Nassau County for 58 years.
Some viburnums might fill the bill.
Orchid lecturer, teacher and judge. Retired Wildlife Biologist. Supervisor of a nature preserve up until I retired.
Last edited by BigBill Jan 23, 2021 3:35 PM Icon for preview
Jan 24, 2021 3:08 PM CST
Name: Elena
NYC (Zone 7a)
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Rose of Sharon are pretty and easy but are not evergreen. Your windows would be exposed in the fall/winter months.

Rhododendrons are evergreen but are less bushy than azaleas. Both do fairly well with more shade which I suspect you have a fair amount.
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