Tag Archives: screening plants

New Juniper Hedge

The installation of five junipers along the southern border this weekend marked the satisfying start of some renovation work in the garden.  The selected plants, Blue Point Junipers, are medium growing, pyramidal, coniferous evergreens.  Blue Points are deer-resistant, drought tolerant, like sun, and will fill in to make a nice screening hedge.

The final height and spread will not be known for some number of years.  The garden center itself had contradictory information, but for this garden the is for 8-10 feet tall with 3-4 feet spread. Should they end up with 10-14 feet height, that would be ok; but a 4-8 feet spread would likely be too crowded.

Family: Cupressaceae
Genus: Juniperus
Species: J. chinensis
Juniper chinensis ‘Blue Point’

Pruning My Garden Options

Renovating the garden this year is exciting, yet overwhelming.  There are so many decisions; sometimes they seem to be firmly made.  Another day, the doubts are back.  A bit like life itself.

Visiting a garden center today did little to help finalize plant choices. Camellias.  What a lovely choice for a hedge: evergreen and very Southern. With the right selections, there could be blooms throughout the year or all at once in a mass of soft color.  But–is there too much sun; will the deer ruin them; do they require too much water?

Juniperus chinensis ‘Spartan’.  Possibly a good choice, but will it get too tall and overpower the perennial beds?  The winter color seems drab. Can make-do without a lot of watering, once established — a necessity for survival in this garden.

The garden center had some 3-4 foot pots that would make great accents in the garden. Using several of these would add height immediately, so smaller, less expensive specimens could make a big impact right away.

A meditation path still holds intrigue.  Stepping stones interplanted with creeping thyme would awaken the senses and offer a joyous way to experience the garden.  My old garden had such a path, and although it had not been conceived as a meditation path, each step did lead friends laughingly through the phlox, iris, coreopsis, zinnias, gladioli.

May decide to enclose the yard with a four-foot picket fence, the only style and height allowed in the neighborhood, having already installed the maximum amount of six-foot privacy on one side several years ago.  An expensive option, the deer could breech it, but might it deter them some?

It is not hard to select numerous things that would make a garden wonderful.  The difficulty is pruning my garden options.

Almanac and Arborvitae

Almanac: Fifty degrees around 12:45.  Sunny day, blue skies after several days of heavy rain.  Ground is squishy.  Deer have been using  the south-side bed as their path.

Emerald Arborvitae
Thuja occidentalis ‘Emerald’

Purchased three deeply discounted Emerald Arborvitae in February, 2006.  Subsequent drought that year pushed two beyond their limits, but this one stood firm and is the lone soldier now trying to screen a rather wide area.

Garden Design – Reflections and Plans

Originally the garden layout tried to take advantage of borrowed views to create a larger feel than the back yard of a quarter-acre property might normally command. Wanting to create a neighborly, friendly openness seemed to be the appropriate guide in defining the early perennial borders.

On either side of the yard, the perennial beds were built right up to the property line, allowing the garden to be viewed from the outside of either edge. Several Arizona Cypresses were used to add height and to demarcate the back corners of the property, but a low-growing gardenia hedge was chosen to close off the back edge, leaving a view of several picket fences and architecturally interesting homes to extend the space.

Time moves on. Gardens and gardening goals evolve.  Over time controlling the view year-round has become a more important priority than openness. As most of the perennials die back during the winter, the view degrades considerably, whether one is looking into or looking out of the garden.  Even in June as the perennials are filling out, one can see that the view leads the eye away from the garden.

The lack of screening and the lack of structure or “bones” are leaving the yard overly exposed. The garden offers little sense of privacy and retreat, two characteristics that now will be held up as defining measures of success in evaluating the garden’s renovation.

The view reveals everything at once. The use of designing outside rooms is frequently mentioned as a way to break up space in a garden. Ladew Topiary Gardens in Monkton, Maryland is an excellent example of this technique.  Unlike that garden mine is quickly and easily read. Except for getting a closer gaze at a particular plant there is no mystery or surprise or discovery.

Concepts for my garden redesign checklist

  • Use screening for controlling views
  • Seek to develop sense of privacy and retreat
  • Consider garden spaces as rooms
  • Include meditation path
  • Create destinations within the garden
  • Add seating to provide different perspectives for enjoying the garden
  • Choose the right plants for the mixed hedge; pruning to maintain size and shape is not an option

Screening Plants

A consideration in selecting screening plants for this Chapel Hill garden is finding trees or shrubs that are dense enough to perform their duty without growing too tall or wide.  The existing garden borders the back yard on three sides.  Adding screening will necessarily consume some of the planting area. In trying to hide unsightly views, there is still a wish to preserve as much garden as possible and to maintain sun exposure for existing plants.  The screens must create more privacy while avoiding a walled-in feeling.

Arizona Cypress 'Carolina Sapphire'

Family: Cupressaceae
Genus: Cupressus
Species: C. arizonica

Currently in the garden, providing screening and anchoring the northwest corner, is an Arizona Cypress cultivar named ‘Carolina Sapphire.’ This silvery-blue evergreen and its two companions marking the southwest corner, are around twenty feet tall after ten years.  They have become much wider than expected, practically engulfing several of the gardenias planted along the back perimeter. Reliable they are though. They have survived several summers of severe drought during which numerous Japanese hollies, gardenias and other shrubs browned and died. Overall Arizona Cypress are beautiful and noteworthy specimens.