Today I Planted

Have you been following along on my quest to renovate the foundation plantings on the east side of my house? Today I finally got to the fun part. I got to plant some shrubs, including this Beautyberry, Callicarpa dichotoma 'Issai'. It is supposed to only grow to three or four feet with a nice arching habit and have these purple berries on it until early winter.

The tag said it was hardy to zone 5, root hardy to zone 4. To me that means if it gets too overgrown or out of control, I could cut it way back, like I've done with Spiraea shrubs, and it will come back and start over again.

Before we get to the picture of the bed with its new shrubs, let's review what's been done, shall we?

This is how the bed started out. Overgrown with English ivy, there were three half dead Deutzia shrubs in there somewhere, along with the stumps of two Hypericum shrubs I had cut back in the spring (because they were nearly dead after a bagworm attack).
I dug out the shrubs and the ivy, a little at a time. It's not so overwhelming, really, if you just do a little at a time.

Then I tore down the retaining wall and rebuilt it so it was no longer leaning out, looking like it could fall at any moment.As you can see, I also brought in some top soil to bring the soil level back up to the top of the wall.

Are you ready to see the newly planted bed?

Ta da.It doesn't look very full now, but I've only planted the new shrubs so far, the foundation of this bed. In addition to three Beautyberry shrubs, I planted two Hydrangea paniculata 'Tardiva', one on each end. I believe I'm going to have to prune those back a bit to keep them to a height of five feet or so, but they will be nice in this bed with their late blooming white flowers.

To me this looks nice but is a little underwhelming. It takes time for shrubs to grow and fill in an area. I'm planning to add some more to this bed, mostly some daffodils in groups in the front for spring bloom, maybe some daylilies, maybe some English ivy.

Kidding on the English ivy! I'm not planting that again. If I decide to add a ground cover it will be Vinca minor, or something controllable.

Do you remember my bed of False Dragon's Head, Ribbon Grass, and Four O'Clocks?

I cleared it out, too, and planted a forsythia there.
This is an awkward spot because of the need to provide access to the utility boxes and keep the area around the heat pump clear. This particular forsythia is Forsythia x intermedia 'Show Off'. I wasn't planning to buy another forsythia, but the guy at the nursery talked me into it. He said something like "it sure has a lot of flower buds on it". Then I remembered that my sister thought her forsythia was better than mine, and decided that if I had this one, I would have the better forsythia. Ha! Sold!

I'll plant some spring flowering bulbs and other perennials around this, too.

I still want to get some more shrubs to plant on the other side of the heat pump, but I haven't found any shrubs that seem right for this area. But at least I've got most of this area cleared out, except for the daylilies, which I decided were worth saving.

And that's what I have to show for the week. Six shrubs planted. It doesn't sound like much, but as my neighbors on that side kept saying each time they saw me out there working on those beds, "that looks like a lot of work".

It was work, but taking it a little at a time, it was quite manageable. Now I'm looking forward to finishing it up, planting some bulbs, finding a few more shrubs, and watching the shrubs grow and make these beds their own.


  1. What an interesting choice! My purple berries are on the native Callicarpa americana which gets really big and is only good to zone 6, I think. This Asian cultivar should be hardier and fit into your nice, new, rebuilt space.

    Do you get Mockingbirds up there in Indiana? They love beautyberries!

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  2. That was really hard work you did! My compliments!And I'm sure you will be very pleased when you can see all the plants and flowering bulbs bloom in Spring. There are also some borders I should renew this autumn.... so if you want, please come over ;-) !!

  3. It looks great, Carol! I love callicarpa, and between those and the hydrangea, you'll end up with plenty of seasonal interest in that bed. I don't think it looks underwhelming at all. Your neighbors are lucky they have something so nice to look at. All I see when I look toward my neighbor's house is their garbage cans....

  4. I don't think that looks underwhelming at all--especially since we've all been following along and know what kind of work has gone into it! Callicarpa are beautiful--I can't wait to see what yours look like when they "grow up" even more.

  5. How much fun is it to 'armchair garden'? Thanks for letting us observe the process. The bed looks great and will just get better with time! Isn't it gratifying to neaten things up and put in new plants? Now, get in the hot tub!

  6. Your Callicarpa looks like a great choice. I sure do enjoy mine.

  7. This looks great, and as a new gardener, I enjoy reading this sort of process and learning so much. Thanks!

  8. I'm so jealous. I've been admiring Pam/digging's Beautyberry. I love those purple berries and I'm so glad to know they are hardy to this area.

  9. You've done an amazing amount of work here. I enjoy seeing the 'before' and 'after' pictures. What a difference there is.

  10. Hi Carol, You've done a good job on those borders and that wall. That Ivy goes really mad doesn't it. Its good to take before and after pics, its so rewarding to see how hard you've worked. Bob.

  11. Annie in Austin... I don't know too much about the birds around here, but I don't think we get mockingbirds here in Indiana. It will be interesting to watch to see what birds are attracted to the Beautyberry.

    Barbarba... Thanks for the kind words. I do get some offers to "come on over and help us plant" but I usually have to send regrets. I'm still working on my own garden!

    Colleen... Thanks! The plantings are starting to "grow on me" and I am looking forward to watching them grow over the next year.

    Blackswamp_Girl... I do like having before and after pictures. It helps me see how much I've done and I know it is better now than before.

    Layanee... It is quite gratyifying to have this bed re-done. How did you know I got dirty and hot and tired doing it? Armchair gardeners rarely sweat, do they?

    Pam/digging... Thanks! I should have put a link to your blog in the post as I was more familiar with Callicarpa sp. from your blog when I saw it in the nursery. The berries are so striking right now.

    Rosemarie... I hope you were able to learn from this and weren't scared off by the work involved.

    Robin's Nesting Place... That's a great compliment when another gardener says they are jealous. My Callicarpa is a different species than Pam's so I don't think it will get nearly as big. They still had some at the Eagle Creek Nursery if you want one or two or three.

    Kate... I was surprised looking back at the difference, too. It was definitely worth the effort!

    UKBob... The ivy did go mad and was all over the place. I'm sure a piece or two will sprout, but I'm going to be viligent and yank it out when it does.

    All... thanks for compliments and kind words!

    Carol at May Dreams Gardens

  12. I love the Tardiva's. I prune mine way back every fall, and it has never failed to bloom the next summer. I can keep it at about 5-6' doing that. By the way, if you change your mind and want some ivy, I will be glad to share!


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