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    Which Back-Drops Best Showcase Your Plants?


    Back-Drop: Arborvitae Hedge

     Fourteen years ago my husband Gerry planted a hedge of arborvitae (cedar trees) for three reasons:

     1. to act as a privacy wall,
     2. to screen the wind from our hot tub and the snow from the garage,
     3. to be used as an organic backdrop for specific flowering plants. 

     We forced the trees to grow quickly upwards by clipping them on all four sides for the first three years. Once  they reached 7 feet, we maintained them by trimming all new growth – ONLY in the spring!!! (You do not want  to ‘bald’ your cedars by cutting them at the wrong time of the year.) We love the privacy that the cedars offer  and the way they absorb sound. It is so peaceful sitting on the back patio with the encompassing green  border.No longer does the lid of our hot tub bump us on the head from strong winds, as the gale is greatly  reduced in our backyard by the thick protective hedge. Look at the following photos to see what a wonderful  green back-drop the cedars offer to flowering plants.

     

    Photos of Green Arborvitae (Cedar) Hedge, Sweet Kate Tradescantia in bloom, and Hanky Panky Hosta.

                     

    Photo of a 4’ Magic Fountain Delphinium highlighted by the cedar back-drop, under planted with hostas. Kniphofia or yellow ‘Red Hot Poker’ glows against the green hedge back-drop.

      

    Back-Drop: Nearby Trees

    I plant three to four different heights in my border gardens.The first and tallest level is the main tree canopy whose mature tree height is over 25’. The second level is an understory set of trees that survive in part shade and tend to bloom beautifully in spring time or they have exciting bark…though they do not reach a height of more than 15’. The third level is made up of complimentary bushes. They are easy to care for and merely act as filler. The fourth level usually consists of spring bulbs of a vibrant color, or perennials that are either yellow or white and are used to draw your eye to the otherwise darkened space.

    Photo of Crimson King Red Maple Tree, Pink Dogwood Tree, Burning Bush (red in fall), and Pink Tulips. Notice all have a red hue to them. (Remember to repeat the same color in your garden.) Photo shows a Blue Parrot Tulip set amongst Woodland Phlox. (The Phlox smells heavenly so it is planted where it wafts by my kitchen window!)

      

    Back-Drop: Fencing

    When our fence was installed to keep the dogs on our property, I had no idea how wonderful a back-drop it would represent for our trees and plants.I planted ferns to create a ‘woodland type of setting’ to encourage you to walk up to the arched gate.

      

    Back-Drop: House and Architecture

    I like balance and monochromatic colors to sooth my eye.Carefully choose the plants and accessories that you use for your foundation plantings to coordinate with your home, keeping in mind the line that your eye travels up and down over windows, doors, trellises and bushes.Hide unsightly vents (view photo below). By early summer, the trellis and climbing clematis block the vent, though still allow for air circulation.Note that the cream variegation in the hosta plants coordinates really well with the trim color of the house.Though the black mongo grasses below are difficult to see, they pick up the color of the trellis. Again, like-colors are repeated.

    Plant trees in between windows, yet away from the house to promote future growth.The tri-color beech tree picks up the reds in the pigmy barberry bushes.Hope your plants survived the late snow and that you are enjoying a lovely spring showing!

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