Help with front flower bed

Menlo Park, CA

Hi, please see attached photos.
We just moved to this home and would like to re-do the flower bed in front of the house. Right now as you can see it has lavatera and nicotiana.
The bed is 15' long by 4.5' deep.
Want to do a purple, red and chartreuse color scheme.

My idea:
Back row: three plant groups: either Evil Ways Buddleia in
the middle with purple delphinium on either side or vice versa. (Should I have the bushy plant Buddleia in the middle or the straight plant, delphinium?)--this Buddleia will be 4' tall and 5' wide? Generally delphinium in my area seem to grow 3-4 feet high only.

Middle row: Red Carpet Flower rose and Lorapetalum Ever red
and Nicotiana Langsdorfii

Not much room left in Front: maybe chatreuse and purple sweet potato vines? Or maybe chartreuse Sedum Angelina


This message was edited Sep 18, 2012 11:32 AM

Thumbnail by mmedici Thumbnail by mmedici
Oakland, CA(Zone 9b)

>>Evil Ways Buddleia>>
Check out this website where the writer talks specifically about color combinations with this variety: . I thought it was very interesting and you might find it helpful.

>>delphinium?) -- Generally delphinium in my area seem to grow 3-4 feet high only>>
What variety the tall spiky kind or the round-petaled types? I would think the spiky types are too similar to the buddleia to contrast well, especially as they are not evergreen foliage plants and so will offer no interest when not in bloom which is most of the year.

>>Red Carpet Flower rose >>
I would not use a carpet rose as a second-tier plant. Have you seen them grow? They grow in a messy clump, and then one shoot grows longer, bends over, and forms another plant. I had one that was a spectacular dark red, but the thorns are ferocious and they simply don't have good form as a mini-shrub. You will always be having to cut off shoots that are going where you don't want them to. I have a cottage garden, and there is NOTHING more annoying than having to prune a plant that is both unruly and not easily accessible through other plants.

>>Lorapetalum Ever red >>
I like lorapetalums a great deal, but how big does this plant get? Mine grow quite a bit wider than the stated size (which is typical in CA when a plant is well-sited), and your bed doesn't look that large in relation to the tree(birches?). If you prune them to stay a certain size, it drastically reduces flowering. Some plants prune well, but I've found the loropetalum prunes easily (branches are brittle and can easily be broken off) but not happily.

>>Nicotiana Langsdorfii >>
Scent is amazing, if very heavy. Do be aware it will attract bees, most scented plants do. Not a big deal, bees are very mellow insects. What will fill the space the rest of the year when the nicotiana, like the delphinium, are dormant?

I ask this for a specific reason. I have a cottage garden that is beautiful all year round, but to accomplish that means evergreen foliage in interesting and varied colors. But the fact that the foliage is evergreen and growing, means that deciduous plants have an extremely hard time competing against them.

Dahlias, for example, struggle to repeat and quickly give up. I have found that only certain bulbs and rhizomous plants do much better when competing against evergreen shading. I have evergreen iris with beautiful foliage that I use all over my garden, although I'm not sure it would show off well against the buddleia. It does look good beside the loropetalums, however, the difference in leaf size and shape providing wonderful contrast.

>>Chartreuse and purple sweet potato vines? >>
Annuals. Do you intend to replant them every single year? Why? They're also water hogs, but if your sprinkler system reaches them, that's fine.

>>Chartreuse Sedum Angelina >>
I have this plant but it has failed elsewhere (I live in the coastal East Bay, very similar climate to yours but a few degrees cooler). Some sedums are vigorous but this one, although beautiful, has not shown the same degree of vigorousness. I now have it in a container with two other succulent types, and it is by far the wimpiest grower out of the three. I think it's very site-fussy some succulents are, and some aren't.

This message was edited Sep 22, 2012 8:36 AM

Houston Heights, TX(Zone 9a)

My 2 cents. Go out to your curb and look at how you might frame the window behind the bed. The tall thing in the bed is too tall and blocks the window from sight. Place tall things on side of the window and something short under the window. This frames your house better. That bark on that tree is sooo beautiful. I might just curve the bed out nicely and include the tree as the focal point of the bed. Near that bark I might place something low growing that complements the white in that bark. Maybe white flowered something or white varigated mixed with something purple like purple sweet potato. Whatever that plant is in the first photo to the far left, I would keep. In keeping with the color of the trim on ;your house, I would definitely use some loropetulum. They come in short, medium and tall. The short one is called purple pixie and grows about 2 feet high and you wont need to prune it. I forgot the name of the other two but check on-line for their names. The tall purple plant in the centre of the driveway, I would move and replace with something low growing.The tall thing in the driveway could be put to good use in the bed centered between the window and the corner of the house. The color is perfect but it is too tall for that spot IMO. Your house is burgundy, grey-green and the cement is grey. I would not use chartreuse in the beds if it were me or anything that has a yellow look to it. There is a shrub that is grey green and white variegated and I might use that near the white bark of the tree. It is evergreen so you could use it and loropetalum as the sort of permanent part of your design. White Delphinium against dark loropetulum would be stunning. So ;your color scheme is burgundy and grey-green and grey. I would use white and pink and blue perennials or annuals. Im guessing from the look of the steps that a pumpkin color might be a good accent for your scheme but I would just experiment with accent colors by placing something like a pot or box or something of the color you would like to try on the step and back off to the curb and look until you get something that pleases you. For the 3 "holes" in the concrete driveway/sidewalk, I would use identical material in all three to unify the space and it would be good to repeat something there that you have used in the bed. For a winter annual, what about purple ornamental kale or cabbage? For a low growing something like a ground cover, check out ajuga reptans. Might work for the little "holes" Also there is a purple Oxalis you might look at. Grows from little bulbs that come back after winter is over. At some point I would ditch the two green shrubs by the front door and replace with a grey green or purple shrub with maybe white allyssum ground cover under it. Im thinking an orange pot with white flowers on the steps opposite would put focus on ;your front door. Remember: Repeat plants to unify your design, vary enough to make it interesting, Vary height and texture to keep interest while sticking to your color scheme. I love your home's design. Let me know what you think about my suggestions. I know this is not the color scheme you wanted but red and chartreuse just dont seem to go with that house color to me. If this does not help, just discard. I wont mind. Marty

This message was edited Oct 29, 2012 2:03 AM

This message was edited Oct 29, 2012 2:23 AM

This message was edited Oct 29, 2012 2:29 AM

Kiowa, CO(Zone 5b)

Just a few ideas....In ref. the Delphs....D. belladonnas floers are not as showy but bloom prolithically and become bushy, 4ft ish. Be aware that most of the tall Dephs only bloom once at full height for a few weeks, if they are cut back will bloom later in the summer but at a shroter height. If you still want Delphs have you ever tried the D. grandiflorums, they are compact and top out at about 10-18", these will bloom ALL summer if deadheaded, and come in pink, white and a couple shades of blue, if allowed they will readily reseed. Also have you considered Nicotiana sylvestris, about the same size, this one has white flowers but is SOOOOO fragrant in the evening and an added bonus is the hawkmoths are fun to watch at night when the perfume exudes from the glistening white flowers, sorry no pix.

Pix 1: Delph. grandiflorum, 10-18", all season, this was a new baby so a bit smallish, but they get to be about 12-18" wide also
Pix 2: Alchemilla mollis, 18"
Pix 3: Resedia oderata, (sorry a bit out of focus), this is a reseeding annual that is extremly fragrant, 12"... (available from

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