Gardening & Landscaping
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Newbie question--flower box

Hello all.  Our house has a large (5' x 8 ') flower box in the backyard that is raised about to waist level.  It gets lots of sun.  When we first moved in it had lilies and white rocks covering the dirt.  Well, I finally rid of the white rocks because it was very hard to pull weeds from between the rocks.  I want to re-do the box with some fresh soil and mulch.  However, I also want to replace the flora in there as well.  Most of the lilies have died--it's been 5 years, so I don't know if that's normal.  I'm taking the remaining lilies to my parents' house, but I'd like new plants for the box.  My goal is to have something that I can see year-round, even if it's not blooming, as the lilies only came out for a short period each year.  My Mom has already ruled out my first idea of azaleas--she said that they get too big and people don't prune them (I just assumed I could prune them, but I don't know much about gardening).  Any thoughts on something simple that I can keep in there? 

Re: Newbie question--flower box

  • ~NB~~NB~ member
    5000 Comments Combo Breaker

    Is this box just sitting in the middle of the yard, or is it against the house foundation or another structure? An isolated 5ft x 8 ft waist-level raised bed seems like it might be better suited to edibles than ornamentals. Have you considered doing that?

    As for azaleas- there are LOTS of dwarf options, and they definitely ARE prunable, but they do better in partial sun.

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  • Some of the low-maintenance freeblooming roses, with lower annuals or perennials in front of them, would give you a nice display of greenery and flowers through three seasons.  Winter would be the only sad season.  So perhaps an evergreen or two in there would be nice, too.  There are some evergreen azaleas and small rhododendrons ... I think.

    Or you could grow a flowering vine on a decorative trellis (or two) in the middle of the planter, with shrubs or flowers around it.  The trellis would provide winter interest.  Clematis might do well, although in my zone (5) I've had a hard time getting it to do more than show up -- no flowers, not a lot of growth.  If mandavilla is hardy in your zone or if you're willing to replant it every year, it's a lovely vine with stunning strong pink trumpet flowers.  One of the low-growing blue cranesbill would go well with it.  Or you could plant a climbing rose on the trellis, with a long-blooming daylily in front (Stella d'Oro, Happy Returns, etc.).   Or grow a grape vine on the trellis, with something else around the edges. 

    There are so many possibilities!

     What is the orientation of the planter?  Does the length run east-west or north-south?  Or something else entirely?  Is water accessible?

  • Wow!  I love some of these ideas, and I'll have to look up some of these things, as I'm not too gardeny, so you're still a bit over my head! :)  I hadn't really considered edibles, just ornamentals--I'm already struggling with critter visitors in my yard, which makes my dogs crazy.  The box runs east/west, and is just to the left as you walk out of my basement.  It's easily water accesible, completely encased in wood on all sides, but drains from a pipe below--the former owner installed it, and it seems to be done pretty well.  It's surrounded by a brick patio with a brick staircase running up around one side.  DH keeps his grill alongside the non-staircase side.  It looked lovely during the few months that the lilies were doing well a few years ago.  I'm anxious to get it going soon, so I'm excited to head out to a nursery to buy some new friends.  I'll post pictures when it's all done. Thank you!!!

  • ~NB~~NB~ member
    5000 Comments Combo Breaker

    It seems that it is well integrated to the existing structure; because this is the case I think ornamentals would be fine. It's enough space for a small tree, which would give you a little shade around the patio and stairway. You could plant a few flowering perennials at the edges of the box for some color.

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  • What about Lavendar? It does great in full sun, though I don't know what your winters are like. It's a really hardy plant, smells good and looks beautiful.



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