Original garden plan seems iffy now; please help!!

Puyallup, WA(Zone 7b)

I am very new to gardening and trying, unsuccessfully so far, to plan my foundation flower bed. My front yard is west facing and sloping downward; the planting bed goes all the way down the hill; 18' deep and 16' wide at the very top.

As you can see, there is a huge hydrangea at the bottom of the bed (planted by previous owners). My original plan was to move it back and transplant it in the spot just under the window. I also bought a couple of Spring Bouquet viburnums to go on either side of the hydrangea. The hydrangea should eventually become 5' high and the viburnums about 6'. I thought I would fill the rest of the space with a mix of purple - blue and pink perennials.

But now I'm beginning to doubt the design... should I use these shrubs or should I get shorter ones so as to not hide a large portion of the brick wall? Also I received some feedback that planting two shrubs of the same kind on either side of a different shrub is not a good design plan. I feel so foolish and confused now!! Please help; any suggestions, whether general design tips or particular plant recommendations would be greatly appreciated.

Please feel free to let me know if neither of these current plants will work for this space. I would like to have at least one hydrangea... but even a smaller one would be fine. Thanks a lot!!

This message was edited Sep 22, 2012 12:20 AM

This message was edited Sep 22, 2012 12:20 AM

Thumbnail by Tulika
Worcester, MA

My one and only rule for garden 'planning' is to plant what YOU like, where you like! And with 16' of space there's plenty of room for all 3. I don't see a design flaw with using the same shrub on either side of the hydrangea, although I would plant the hydrangea a bit forward of the vibirnums (to make it easier to care for all the shrubs and help prevent crowding).

Gardening is fun - and look at that big beautiful space you have to fill! I'm envious! Don't ever feel bad about what you think you don't know. You KNOW what you like! :>)

Madison, AL(Zone 7b)

It might be the angle in the photo, but if you use a riding mower you may want to verify that it can get all the way into the curve in the middle. I have a similar curve in one spot and my mower can't quite get it all even with the mowing strip. I plan to straighten it out a smidge this winter, but it would have been easier to have done it originally.

Unless you just don't like the hydrangea there, I would leave it. It looks great and is thriving in that spot, and if you attempt to transplant it it may not do so well. Also, if it is going to get bigger (and I suspect it will), I think it will look good softening the retaining wall edge. From the photo the walkway looks big enough (is that 5'?) to be crowded a bit without being uncomfortable for the people using it.

When all else fails, buy the main shrubs you want and put them in the space in pots and build your "structure," then move them around until you are happy and look at it every day from different angle for a while. It will help you visualize the final outcome.

Houston Heights, TX(Zone 9a)

That hydrangea is gorgeous and it looks perfect with the pink blue and grey of the house colors. I would not move it. Closer to the pink brick, it might somewhat disappear. I would still place the viburnums as you originally planned and use something undr the windows that is short and resembles the foliage of the viburnums but does not bloom. These short shrubs could provide a nice "green" background for your next layer of plants with color in front of them. I love the beautiful curve of that bed!

Duxbury, MA(Zone 7a)

I have several hydrangeas, but I've never tried to move any of them. I do think if you keep it where it is now, it will grow too tall to see what's planted behind it. And I assume you want to see something 3 seasons as you walk up your sidewalk. I love alyssum basket of gold spilling over a wall in the spring, and I don't have a wall at my current house. But that's yellow. If you want to stay in the blue/purple/pink family you could plant some ground phlox at the edge of the wall. Then maybe some herbs spilling over in the summer - thyme? Nasturiums would be nice, those would be annuals, though, and again in the yellow/orange family, although you can get some nice mahogany colored or peach ones. You might want to consider opposing colors - I have apricot day lilies in front of my blue hydrangeas and they look really nice together.

Do you know the variety of the hydrangea? If it's Endless Summer, it will bloom on new wood, so you could move it now while it's cool, cut it back, and hopefully still get blooms next summer. If it's not a newer variety that blooms on new wood, you might be giving up a year of blooms.

Laceys Spring, AL(Zone 7a)

Also remember, you can cut back and divide the hydrangea. And I mean you can prune it back pretty severely. Unless you want it to grow big. I'd also vote for leaving it where it is and putting 3 of something else under your window. It looks like you have vents under the window as well, which I don't think you should block with anything too close. Maybe consider 3 of something to balance between the 2 viburnums. They don't necessarily have to line up in a row directly under the window. And a dark foliage evergreen (yew perhaps) low to the ground in front of that would be nice. I'm not familiar with what does well in your zone, so hesitate to suggest specific varieties.

Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

If you do prune the hydrangea, if you want to ensure blooms for next year make sure you wait until after it blooms next year. If you prune it now or over the winter/early spring you will cut off next year's blooms (unless it happens to be one of the reblooming cultivars--but unless it came with a tag so you know which cultivar it is, I'd assume it's one that only blooms on old wood). Of course if you're desperate to make it smaller it won't hurt the plant to prune it now, you just won't get flowers for a year

Laceys Spring, AL(Zone 7a)

Ecrane3 is absolutely right about the pruning. I guess I assumed you knew that!

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