Houzz Logo Print

Need design advice - covering perennial(s) beside lilac

15 years ago


I'm a newbie on this forum and new to outdoor gardening, (after many years of having an indoor green thumb). Last year I bought my first place and I'm the designated gardener (it's 2 condos in a 2-family and the other unit knows *nothing* of plants, so they've designated me the designer and gardener).

The garden I inherited was best defined as: shrub (rhododendron), shrub (Andromedia), 6' of dirt (where shrub obviously died), shrub (evergreen) on one side. And on the side in question (the space between driveway and front stairs), there is/was privet hedge, dirt, evergreen shrub). So last year I planted a lilac bush in the middle between the privet and the evergreen. In the zeal of my first spring, I bought many flowering bulbs from Home Depot and planted them all around the lilac... only to realize that after their short lives, I had to look at dead leaves.

So I am looking for something in the space around the lilac to lend ground-cover over the dying bulb vegetation and make it look nicer all season long.

For lack of imagination, I thought of pachysandria as ground cover, not realizing how slowly it would grow together. So I pain-stakingly planted many small plants there and ended up with a garden of hair-plug like plants - most unattractive.

This is the spring to fix that! The lilac is doing well. The bulbs are coming up now. But after the bulbs have died back, I want to dig up that area around the lilac and plant some kind of perennial(s) to add texture, fullness and color. (I plan to replant the bulbs on top of/in between the perennials...).

I should also mention my favorite style of gardening is the English style where there are tons of plants in varying color, texture and sizes together and you don't see the earth (as opposed to the more common American style of plants spread apart and bark mulch in between).

My problem is I have no idea what would suit this space. It is on the West side of the house in full sun in the afternoon. I have some ideas, but they are limited by my very limited experience and limited knowledge of what's out there. I would LOVE some feedback and suggestions!

I've thought of the following possibilities. I would love to hear feedback on them -- and suggestions for other plants --

(1) lavendar (compliment the lilac, add color, intermediate height between short plants and lilac)?

(2) long-flowering geranium (the outside kind, not the inside kind) - grows like a vine close to the ground. Won't take over the space as much as a taller plant...? (See sample in the bigger bed near dogwood tree. This grew quite large over the season and was covered in flowers for a long time.)

(3) hostas?

... I've thought of other plants I've seen in gardening books, but I don't know where to get those kind of plants or whether they would suit in this climate/setting.

Here is a link to garden photos. The lilac area is half-way down the page. It shows the before and afters (in spring and summer).

Again, I'm looking for some kind of perennial(s) that will fill in space and offer other complimentary colors and textures throughout the season.

Thanks in advance for any help!


Here is a link that might be useful: before and after photos of gardens

Comments (13)

    SURROUNDS Landscape Architecture + Construction
    Average rating: 5 out of 5 stars10 Reviews
    DC Area's High-End Custom Landscape Design/Build Firm 9x Best of Houzz