Which do you prefer?

When I first purchased my home 10 years ago the front beds were a mass of Boxwoods and one scruffy looking Azalea that were shaped into perfectly sculptured round balls. I’m not a big fan of these shrubs for foundation plantings. The Azalea was given the same treatment as the Boxwoods for so long that it never bloomed. Boxwoods are boring and too formal for my garden style. I prefer a more natural type of look to my shrubs. So after many years I convinced my hubby to rip these overgrown plants out of the front gardens. This is not an easy task as some of you already know, it involved a lot of digging & pulling & digging. Then I replaced them with Euonymus fortunei ‘Emerald & Gold’ which has beautiful variegated leaves and a wild look that you can tame somewhat with shears just to keep them somewhat neat. What do you prefer as foundation shrubs in your garden?

25 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Cynthia on September 6, 2008 at 4:48 am

    I am with you PGL. I do not really care for Boxwood -OR- Junipers as foundation plantings. I would much rather see beds over flowing with flowers. But that usually requires a lot more work than Boxwood and Juniper I suppose.


  2. Posted by Mary Ann on September 6, 2008 at 11:39 am

    PGL — your replacement plants will look great!


  3. Posted by Darla on September 6, 2008 at 11:45 am

    There is nothing formal about me flower beds that’s for sure! I love a more natural look.


  4. Posted by tina on September 6, 2008 at 1:05 pm

    I am a bit of both in my foundation beds. I will not prune or shear shrubs and so my overgrown boxwoods had to go! Now I have a row of microphylla euonymous (looks like boxwood but growth habit of your euonymous) with a row of firepower nandina in front for contrast. Both stay under 3 feet. In front of that is a perennial border. Some formality some cottagey but it works for me. I like your new style much better too!


  5. Posted by Meadowview Thymes on September 6, 2008 at 1:50 pm

    I have a little boxwood in back that has been allowed to just grow, and since it’s by itself it has that “wild” look. That is what I prefer–all natural. I think that is one of the reasons I like salvias and rosemary so much. Give me the wild and untamed! πŸ™‚


  6. Posted by PGL on September 6, 2008 at 2:28 pm

    Cynthia, I am slowly mixing perennials & bulbs in with my euonymous to make for a more natural look. I still prefer my look to something that is less maintenance.

    Thanks MaryAnn. I am pleased with the wild look at the moment. Once I get more perennials & bulbs in this bed it will take on a more natural look.

    Sounds like we have the same taste in gardening Darla. πŸ™‚

    Your garden has that 4 seasons of interest look that most gardeners try to achieve Tina. I like the Firepower Nandinas for their shorter stature.

    Looks like we are all on the same wavelength when it comes to gardening Linda. Natural & untamed. πŸ™‚


  7. Posted by Defining Your Home on September 6, 2008 at 2:30 pm

    Boxwoods look great in an English garden as an edging for lavender and other flowering perennials, veggies and herbs. I have so few foundation plants. A semi-circle of Indian Hawthornes with garden phlox in the middle. A few hollies along the garage wall. Otherwise, my “front yard” is all flower garden. We don’t have a traditional lawn as we’re on 4.5 acres, with 2 acres of open meadow out front.


  8. Posted by GardenJoy4Me on September 6, 2008 at 3:21 pm

    Hello there pgl !
    I am in total agreement with you on foundation plantings .. I want something a little more carefree and attractive .. different plants like I have in the front garden .. I love Euonymus too and have one that is creeping up a wooden trellis in the raised side bed of the house .. Mugo pine, Little Lamb hydrangea, ferns a real mix of different perennials, vines and ever greens .. I like variety !
    Good post on different view points of foundation plantings : )


  9. Posted by JGH on September 6, 2008 at 4:14 pm

    Hi PGL – thank you for welcoming me on Botanical! (I don’t blame you if you don’t remember – it was two months ago! As you can see, I’m a little behind in exploring the site.) Glad to meet you and your blog.

    I have a holly foundation shrub that I really like. Evergreen shiny leaves, easy to prune and everyone once in awhile I find little flowers or berries on it.

    Hey I really like that cute white coneflower. Smart to plant it with the other coneflowers. I can see why you want to give it another chance.


  10. Posted by Cindy on September 6, 2008 at 5:51 pm

    I’ve found my favorite foundation shrubs to be things that end up blooming for the birds and butterflies like pineapple sage, buddleia, honeysuckle, rosemary. The of course there’s the true foundation to my gardens…. ROSES! πŸ˜‰



  11. Posted by PGL on September 6, 2008 at 5:51 pm

    You're right DYH, they do look good in a formal setting. I'm just not a formal type of girl. πŸ™‚ Sounds like you made some great selections to for your garden.

    Thanks GJ4M! I'm glad you enjoyed the post. Sounds like you have a variety of plants like me. πŸ˜‰ Carefree is a great description of my style too.

    Thanks JPH for stopping by!
    Hollies are great evergreen backdrops in the garden & the birds like those little berries too. πŸ™‚ I'm glad you liked my White Coneflower. She is a beauty especially with the Purple one as a companion as well as Blackeyed Susan.


  12. Posted by PGL on September 6, 2008 at 5:52 pm

    Just missed you Cindy. πŸ™‚ Your choices are great too. I forget about Roses being a great foundation plant. Things that attract wildlife are a big plus in my garden too.


  13. Posted by Susie on September 6, 2008 at 6:53 pm

    When we moved into this house, the landscaper had planted low growing junipers (which I transplanted to the back for my conifer area), some azaleas, a couple of ligustrum, one clerya, and 3 or 4 osmanthus.

    In place of the junipers I planted my knock-out roses. I have left all the others. Osmanthus is one of my favorite shrubs but they do get to be quite big. I’ll just have to keep them pruned. I love the fragrance of the blooms.

    I also love Burning bush but it is deciduous and not pretty during the winter. I don’t care for any hollies except maybe the Sky pencil hollies. They can add a different look to your foundation.


  14. Posted by PGL on September 6, 2008 at 7:45 pm

    Susie, I love Knockout Roses for foundations plantings, they have such a long bloom time. Mine are still blooming their hearts out & will until first hard frost. I'm not crazy about Ligustrum though, we had a hedge that went the perimeter of our yard and it wasn't attractive, just overgrown. I've never grown Osmanthus before, you'll have to post on it so I can see it. Sounds very interesting. You've been a busy bee too!


  15. Posted by Cindy on September 6, 2008 at 8:13 pm

    Hi PGL – We still have some boxy shrubs which we keep pruned, but we ripped some out. And that is a job and a half.
    Of course in PA it seems you have to have rhododendrons as foundation plantings and we have a few that were here and I’ve planted one. We don’t prune them into squares though, as some do. We just let them grow free-form.


  16. Posted by Cosmo on September 6, 2008 at 8:18 pm

    Hi, PGL–I’m with you on anything that needs shaping–I like free form. Like Susie, I love osmanthus–they do get tall, but I have them between windows and the fragrance in the fall is wonderful (there are two kinds–false holly and tea olive–the latter is slower growing but both are easy to prune if you want to keep them small-ish).

    How did you weather Hanna? So far, so good here.


  17. Posted by PGL on September 7, 2008 at 1:34 am

    Hi Cindy, I think Azaleas & Rhododendrons are wonderful foundation shrubs. They have such a natural beauty when they are just pruned to remove the dead & diseased wood. It is hard work removing old shrubs but can be worth the effort in the long run.

    Hi Cosmo, I will definitely have to look into these Osmanthus. Anything that is fragrant is great in my books. We weathered the storm well, minor damage & glorious rain at last. πŸ˜‰


  18. Posted by Aunt Debbi/kurts mom on September 7, 2008 at 1:41 am

    roses, rosemary, viburnum, mock orange, Then I planted a whole bunch of shorter perennials between them. when it is in bloom, it is great. When not, it looks kind of scruffy. I don’t care for the traditional foundation shrubs either.


  19. Posted by PGL on September 7, 2008 at 2:15 am

    What wonderful plants you chose Deb! No garden looks perfect all the time. But then sometimes I think we are more critical of our garden than others would be. πŸ™‚


  20. Posted by lola on September 7, 2008 at 3:41 am

    I just purchased a sky Pencil Holley to go in the corner on the east side of my house where the chain link fence meets the back of the house. There is a Flowering Almond there now but is not doing too well. I think it needs more sun. This side of my house gets only part morning/mid day sun as neighbors have huge oak trees that shade. The length of the beds in both directions are mainly hostas, lilies, Heuchuras {sp}, Caladiums, & an occassional 4 O'clock. Also there is a dwarf azalea in front of the Flowering Almond. I think the holly will soften that corner. I hope so.


  21. Posted by PGL on September 7, 2008 at 1:41 pm

    Sounds like a beautiful garden Lola. I hope you will post on it soon. Looks like you have a variety of plants for height & interest planted there. πŸ™‚


  22. Posted by Sue Swift on September 7, 2008 at 3:04 pm

    My vote goes for an informal “cottage garden” look, but every style looks great if it’s done well.

    Glad to here the storm didn’t do too much damage.


  23. Posted by PGL on September 8, 2008 at 1:58 am

    Exactly Sue, to each their own. Thank you for stopping by! πŸ˜‰


  24. Posted by Anonymous on September 8, 2008 at 7:08 pm

    New here. How did you get your Euonymus to grow upright? Mine looks the same, but it spreads more like a groundcover if let go. Would yours? Thank you for the info. I am not very experienced, but am very interested in learning!


  25. Posted by PGL on September 9, 2008 at 1:05 am

    I cut off the ones that want to trail along the ground, but for the most part it does this on it’s own.


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