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As you can imagine with this week’s impromptu outdoor post theme, both my interview with HGTV’s Kristan Cunningham and this week’s effort on the side of the house has me thinking about color I’d like to bring to the yard.
And if you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you might recall that I have a tendency to kill plants. So, I’m on the hunt for a few new ones to fill some sparse areas around the yard. Armed with a simple set of criteria, I’m doing a little research and trying to find plants that:
  • tolerate the hot, Georgia summer
  • don’t require replanting next year (at least for the areas that should be more maintenance-free, like the area near the camellias and the side of the house)
  • bloom, but don’t have that “run over wet” look when they aren’t flowering
  • are Sarah-proof in terms of neglect, overwatering, and overzealous pruning
Speaking of pruning, I read that a British study found that plants communicate to each other through emitting gases or making clicking noises with their roots (pretty much the same traits as my drinking buddies). They do this to tell other plants to grow, or to alert each other when there is danger, like a caterpillar or a gardener carrying giant shears. I now think I owe mine an apology. But I wonder, what exactly can you bring them? Cut flowers certainly would be the opposite of apologizing.
Plant maiming aside, I think I have a few top contenders to pick up later this weekend (and get my plantin‘ on):
Endless Summer Hydrangea – hits all of the criteria and would look amazing next to the camellias in the front yard. I know from growing up that they did quite well at my parents house in our back yard, and we did nothing to keep them alive.
SunPatiens – these are apparently a new hybrid (or something, I’m still a budding gardener – ha!) that are sun-tolerant impatiens. Perfect for the mailbox and will bloom spring through early fall, but I’ll have to replant next year (which is okay for a small space like that – gives me a chance to change it up with new colors).
Gardenia – this one is particularly special to me because we had one next to the back door at my parents house. It’s still there, so my Mom is trying to grow a sprout of the original for me to place next to my front door (right where she killed my white mum). The flowers are so fragrant and bring back a lot of childhood memories (Mom even had them in her wedding bouquet), so it seems appropriate that at least one of these special plants hold a spot in the front. I’ll  have to wait on this one for a little while until Mom can get me the sprout/sapling/thing, but I’m looking forward to this fragrance next year.
Most of these ideas are for dressing up the curb appeal (you can see the side of the house as you drive up the road), but the back yard could use a little love, too. I’ve already got azaleas and other blooming shrubs back there, so it’s more of a cleanup job before I can get to new planting. I still have lots of plans, and much of it remains the same as the original plans I drew up (only I think I’m going to either put a short cedar deck or pea gravel instead of the pavers to save cost).
For now, I will still have to hack away at the existing shrubbery and get some semblance of order before I can do much more. But with my new information, I think I might also take a radio outside and let the plants enjoy some tunes. At least it will drown out the clicking.

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  1. Hi, Sarah –

    I have a lot of areas to plant .. my front yard close to my house, my front yard close to my stress, the side of my house (like yours) and my backyard everywhere.

    Can I give some advice?

    I suggest you start with the area that has the biggest “bang” and gives you confidence to green up your black thumb.

    I started with my front (closest to my house) because it's also closest to my hose. I added xeric shrubs. After my 3rd try (I tried a garden store, then Home depot then back to the Garden Store). I think my local garden store plants, on the 1st try, would have lived if I watered more, rototilled and ammended the soil a bit. Luckily, I kept my receipts for the 1-year warranty every time :) By my 3rd round of plants, they finally survived the winter and it gave me confidence to move on to a new section. Now that my 1st round of shrubs are almost xeric, I can focus my watering efforts on another section. When they become xeric (usually after a full year of water), I will move on to the next.

    Take it slow with the planting. choose your first area that will provide the biggest bang or will take the longest to grow to maturity. Exercise some patience in planting. You don't want to drop $500 in plants and have them all die because you don't have the time to water every area of your yard.

    I hope that helps.

  2. BTW — I think the Endless Summer Hydrangea .. I think they will look great, especially next to your house in the area.

  3. I'm a HUGE fan of day lilies, butterfly bushes and echinacea. I have lilies and echinacea planted on one side the house, in front of the house, in a rock garden and in a 10'x4' bed at the back of the house (currently infested with zoysia grass and soon to be dug up, designed and replanted). I have butterfly bushes on the other side of the house In mid state PA we don't always get as hot as Atlanta but we do suffer from swings in precipitation and I have found day lilies, Buddleia (butterfly bushes' proper name) and echinacea to be my saving graces year in and year out. I don't water them at all (and we went 6 weeks last summer with little to no rain); depending on Mother Nature to give them what they need.

    Another pount in their favor – still green and with some flowers (echinacea & butterfly) when we got our freak 11″ of snow Oct 2011, I thought everything was a goner. Squashed or in need of severe cropping, I thought all my work over the years had been as they say 'in vain'. Lilies, butterfly bushes and echinacea alike looked ruined! Was I totally wrong! Everything has come back with a happy healthy vengeance! Give them a try! And I should also say that bees and butterflies like all so that should give you some added incentive – artsy photos for the house and gifts!