Need advice on which shrub to plant......

Murfreesboro, TN(Zone 7a)

This spring I dug out a narrow bed filled with iris between our house and driveway. This bed is approximately 3 feet wide, 25 feet long. It has an western exposure, receiving sun from late morning until about 3:00 when trees across the driveway start to shade it.

So far I've put in Caryopteris at one end, Spiraea bumalda 'Anthony Waterer' shrubs at the other. I've placed Stachys (Lamb's Ear) along the edge, and I'm planning on training two Clematis vines on trellis behind the caryopteris and spiraea (I think I can shade the roots adequately with the shrubs.)

Now I need to find something to place in the middle third of the bed, an area about 8 feet long. I'm leaning toward some sort of evergreen shrub, perhaps Skimmia japonica? I'd like something that has nice dark glossy foliage to contrast with the soft silvery hues of the other plants. Whatever I plant can't be allowed to grow more than 3' high due to windows along this wall.

Any ideas? I'm looking for something out of the ordinary, perhaps with fragrance. White, pink or yellow flowering, preferably flowering in late winter/spring.

Oh a few other things that might be important: we're in the southernmost part of USDA Zone 6b, but this is a protected spot, with the neighbor's privacy fence across the driveway, and a lot of warmth from the pavement, so I think anything hardy to at least Zone 7 would do fine. The bed is raised and has good drainage. The backdrop is brick, in a terra-cotta beige color with the occasional charcoal brick showing up in the pattern.

Portland, OR(Zone 8a)

I just bought a Fothergilla gardenii 'Blue Mist'...couldn't help but picture how pretty it would be with the Caryopteris
http://www.mobot.org/hort/plantfinder/Code/A/C80.htm. The foliage on mine is a beautiful smokey blue. I
tried taking cuttings yesterday...so maybe.
Sarcococca ruscifolia
http://www.bcc.orst.edu/hort227/saco4.htm.
Convolvulus cneorum is glossy silver and beautiful.
Lonicera nitida 'Baggesen's Gold"
Dee

Saint Helen, MI(Zone 5a)

What about some of those apple "trees" that grow in a column (they grow about 6-8ft and don't get any branches). You'd have your flowers, pretty fruit and something to eat.

Murfreesboro, TN(Zone 7a)

Thanks for the suggestions ya'll......I don't know what I was thinking when I said I wanted to put a Skimmia in there, it is a far from ideal spot for a shade-loving plant.

The fothergilla is very pretty, as were the other plants Deed listed. Sari, your idea is a good one, too. But we already have apple trees in the back yard.....too many to eat :(

I'm still leaning toward an evergreen, something with nice dark glossy foliage. Perhaps a pieris or mountain laurel? Any input on whether they would do well in this type of site? Or other suggestions for something suitable for Zone 7 or colder, that will stay low (under 3 feet with or without pruning) and fit in a fairly narrow spot.

Portland, OR(Zone 8a)

go_Vols.....I adore Kalmia latifolia and there is a dwarf variety called 'Elf'. For some reason I have a tough time getting them established, but finally have one that looks ready to really take off. I think that would be a great choice. My favorite Pieris japonica are the white flowering 'White Cascade' or 'Purity'. I also remembered one more very pretty evergreen shrub..Choisya ternata..wonderful fragrance, pretty clean glossy foliage...also a yellow leafed version called 'Sundance" . Dee

Murfreesboro, TN(Zone 7a)

Deed, thanks - the photos I found of Choisya are gorgeous! Have you ever heard of K. latifolia 'Tiddlywinks'? It's supposed to be compact like 'Elf' and has deep pink buds, and medium pink blossoms. I haven't found it yet, but my search is far from over :0)

I came across a photo of Pieris japonica 'Variegata' and the leaves seemed darker (with white edging, of course) than some of the other Pieris cultivars.

But that was just one photo, so I'm not sure how accurate that is......the ones I've seen in the nurseries have been pretty limey-colored. I wonder if that's from the somewhat neglectful environment they're currently in, or if that's their natural coloring. (I purchased my Caryopteris from a reputable nursery, and they had them sitting on black tarp, where they had silvery, washed out leaves and very pale flowers, I guess from the intense sun and heat. Six weeks later, the foliage and flowers are much darker and healthier looking, so I try to not judge a plant by the way it looks at the nursery.)

Thanks again - your recommendations have given me a lot more choices to consider!

Portland, OR(Zone 8a)

Don't know tiddlywinks...but sounds great. I agree with you about the Pieris foliage...should be very dark green with some gloss. Looking forward to hearing what you decide. Dee

Efland, NC(Zone 7a)

I like the look of Nandina up against the house...an evergreen, easily trimmed to control height, and produces wonderful bright red berries autumn thru spring. (The flowers are white and somewhat small but they give you the sign that you'll have berries that yr.)

Murfreesboro, TN(Zone 7a)

Oh, Horseshoe, LOL! If you like Nandinas then you'd love the front of my house. It's full of 'em; at least until I get a chance to yank 'em up. They are planted smackdab in front of the windows of my formal living/dining area. The front yard is shaded from three huge oaks, and these shrubs make sure that any ray of sunshine that might possibly try to creep in is thwarted. I agree they have pretty foliage and year-round interest, but they are on my you-know-what list of plants right now.

If I hadn't had such a negative experience with them, I'd probably agree with your recommendation...as it is, I'll be looking to give away or destroy the ones I've got. Familiarity does breed contempt - holds true for plants and people, I supppose! Thanks for thinking of me.... ;0) (Oh, by the way - you want any nandina seedlings? I've got plenty!)

Efland, NC(Zone 7a)

Alright already!! sheesh....always wanting to "share" aren't ya!!! Perhaps you better offer them to someone else...I have some rooting as we speak. So sorry to have suggested the wrong one...but I can certainly empathize with you, only with me it is honeysuckle!! I see it for sale in so many catalogs, and the bragging about the wonderful qualities it offers. Pshaw! Around here it is a nuisance! Takes over fences, other plants, and grows like kudzu as soon as you turn your back on it. Reminds me of the Little Shop of Horrors. Okay Okay...how 'bout I send you some fig leaves as an apology for suggesting the worst and last thing that you wanted?

Murfreesboro, TN(Zone 7a)

LOL, Shoe. When I first saw you had posted, I (fig)ured you were going to suggest a fig tree ;0) If you EVER want one (or one hundred) Nandina seedlings, you just let me know. I suspect I'll be pulling up roots and seedlings for a loooong time to come.

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

go-vols, I have nandina, but the dwarf variety. Love it.

How about something slow growing and spectacular like 'Harry Lauder's Walking Stick'? (Contorted Filbert). Great either in foliage, or bare-branched in winter. Mine, after 2 years in the ground, is finally nearly 3' wide and perhaps 30" tall. Will take YEARS to reach over 4', LOL. (Mine, btw, came cheaply, like $15 from a local man who uses them in bonsai.)

Then, there's always purple smoketree.

This message was edited Wednesday, Sep 5th 9:49 PM

Murfreesboro, TN(Zone 7a)

Darius, actually I did consider a contorted filbert, but I thought that since the other shrubs are deciduous, its winter form might not be as striking (or attractive) as it might be otherwise........

That's why I'm leaning toward something with dark, glossy, evergreen foliage - it should provide a nice contrast year-round, especially in the winter when the other shrubs will look pretty barren.

(That WAS a pretty good price on the plant, by the way ;0)

Efland, NC(Zone 7a)

"dark, glossy, evergreen"...okay, how about Camelia? Shiny leaves, and flowers thru most of the winter, and sometimes beyond! Now, please don't tell me you have hundreds of those seedlings coming up!! (If you do, I'll take 'em.)

Portland, OR(Zone 8a)

Did see a beauty today...Camelia..???...'White Dove'. Low growing,tiered branching habit ...you know those glossy leaves and I hear the flowers will stop you in your tracks.
We want to make this choice really hard. Dee

Murfreesboro, TN(Zone 7a)

Ooooh, Camellias. I'd love one. In fact, my feelings about Camellias probably border on sinfully covetous. ;0)

But.....are they cold hardy this far north? This spot is protected, with a brick wall behind the shrub and pavement a few feet away, both capable of radiating warmth in the winter (and tremendous heat in the summer). We ARE zone 6b however; last December proved why - our temps ranged from teens to twenties for a month. I know that's nothing to ya'll up north, but down here, that's pretty darn cold.

If there's a Camellia capable of taking winters like that, and still blooming (I'd hate to have it lose its buds every winter.....) I'm all ears.

Thanks, ya'll - I love all the ideas and suggestions; they get me thinking about choices I sure wouldn't have come up with on my own!

Efland, NC(Zone 7a)

Nah-nah nahhhh-boo-boo...I suggested something right! I suggested something right!! Here is a good page on camellia...note the temp extremes in the first paragraph (and there also is a list of good varieties). http://www.camellias-acs.com/culture.html
Sign me Horseface...I mean 'saving face' (for doing SUCH a thing as previously suggesting Nandina!)

Murfreesboro, TN(Zone 7a)

Shoe, this is great! A whole list to choose from. Of course, NOW I have to actually choose something!!!! I had no idea there were that many camellias that could be grown in my climate. Woohoo!

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