J.S. asks from Orland Park, IL on April 23, 2008
I am looking to put some plants in the front of my home. I had flowers there for a few years and just decided that they didn't last long enough so I pulled them out. I have the blackest thumb ever, so I don't really know where to begin. I am looking for some small plants that will look nice and be easily kept. Also, if you know any good websites or books about gardening, mulch, soil all the good stuff, that would be great. Thanks.
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J.R. answers from Chicago on April 23, 2008
I agree with the other mom about the choices. I love my spirea, very reliable for a splash of color especially if you deadhead the spent blooms. sedum is also nice - just added 5 new ones to my yard. There are some very nice ornamental grasses that stay nice and compact and are colorful to boot! I also LOVE LOVE LOVE my knockout roses! very easy to care for and bloom continuously!
If you have a bunny problem I would stay away from certain things though... they see any bulbs as buried food - they dug up all my tulips (200!!) and eat my oriental lilies before they get 8 inches high. And they do for the most part stay away from my stella d'oro daylilys - they eat the leaves but they dont destroy them. and those rebloom if you deadhead as well.
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M.S. answers from Chicago on April 23, 2008
I also have a black thumb, but have had some success in my yard with spirea, anemone, lavendar, sedum, and Rose of Sharon (but the rabbits eat it, so I needed to fence that).
My favorite gardening book is Illinois Gardener's Guide by James A. Fizzel. Every page has a picture of the plant and provides really great info.
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J. answers from Chicago on April 23, 2008
I also recommend the book "Month by Month Gardening in Illinois" by Fizzell. Probably more than you need at first, but you can use the charts and guides to figure out what grows well here, what months to plant, etc. You can look up pictures online to see what the plants look like with and without flowers. I have this gorgeous miniature cosmos in my front bed that I love and it looks great even without flowers. I also love the plant I think is called "silver mound," which is also perennial.
If you want color all summer, plant annuals (or plan your beds with a mix, which is what I have in front.) Stick with the basics at first - easy to find anywhere, plus you can see exactly what they look like. If your yard is shady, impatiens and begonias are good.
If you get some sun, petunias bloom like crazy from the cool spring well into the fall. You just have to dead-head them every few days to keep them looking nice. Snapdragons are lovely and come in lots of colors and you can get pretty tall varieties for the back of your bed. Marigolds are forgiving of neglect and bloom all summer too.
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J.F. answers from Chicago on April 23, 2008
Rose of Sharon is great. It does not require much attention and blooms beautifully. A couple of others I've had luck with are Black Eyed Susan and Purple Coneflowers. The coneflowers will need to be split though after sometime.
M.O. answers from Chicago on April 23, 2008
I am with you! I've just started gardening myself. My older neighbors turned me onto www.bluestoneperennials.com They have a wonderful catalog with great pictures and descriptions, very inexpensive gardens that offer complete picture layouts, the plants are shipped, grow quickly, and are amazing.
We ripped out some sorry shrubs right near our front door. I had NO idea what to do. I went to Bluestone, went and ordered their butterfly garden and couldn't be happier.
Also the customer service is fantastic. I had a couple of plants that didn't "take" and immediately got replacements. All of their plants are guaranteed.
Best of luck - this site will make you a believer in your new "green" thumb!