I designed a small entry garden for my brother and his wife based on three plants-
Red Â tree roses, red Kangaroo paws (Anigozanthos) and purple verbena.
Add an evergreen compact Gardenia “Radicans,” shrub to the list and that’s all I gave them.
I know the plant pallet sounds skimpy but I had a strategy in mind!
As first time homeowners and gardeners, I didn’t want to overwhelm them with a bunch of plants to take care of.
I reasoned that if they had success with these four plants, they would be encouraged to plant others in the future.
Despite the limited plant pallet, the trio of plants pack Â a wallop against their yellow ranch style home.
Throw in a few carefully chosen ceramic glazed pots and a “magical” garden cherub that glows in a spectacular aurora at sunset…what more does a beginner need?!!
One of my design strategies is to study sun patterns in a yard so that “advantageous” plants can be planted for backlighting or highlighting by the sun.
Read my post: “How Does Your Garden Glow”
I do the same for garden decor.
My brother Roland and I. Â I’m wearing red, I must be partial to this color!
“Are there any plants that I don’t have to take care of,” my concerned brother asked.
“Yes,” I answered, “dead plants and your neighbors plants!”
I’m convinced he understood from my comment that even the most “easy care” plants need SOME care.
Three Plants for Beginning Gardeners
It’s important for new gardeners to feel empowered in the garden so I selected the following “low maintenance,” extended bloom plants for their small entry garden.
- Tree Roses- “Europeana”
- Anigozanthos- red kangaroo paws
- Verbena- purple ground cover
Europeana Rose in Tree Form
Europeana Tree Rose
Close up of Europeana roses
Rose lovers, my brother and his wife were certain that they wanted roses in their garden.
The fact is, Â most roses need a lot of room to grow and flourish with the exception of mini roses, of course.
(I designed a “miniature rose garden in a garden container,” in case you are interested in uber small landscapes).
In situations where you have a very narrow border measuring five feet deep or less, like this one, tree roses are a great alternative!
“Europeana” is a multi award winning red Floribunda rose that boasts dramatic, deep reddish purple foliage when young, maturing to a distinct olive green leaf.
As a regular floribunda rose shrub, Europeana is a prolific bloomer with huge trusses of red blooms.
Europeana is a mid-size grower, topping out at about four feet and nearly five feet wide.
Too wide as a shrub rose for this border!
Enter the “tree rose.”
Tree roses are products of grafting a flowering rose section unto a specially grown tree trunk for this purpose.
My friend Doug Green has a great article about tree roses if you want more details.
The resulting product is a compact, vertical profile Europeana rose that you can tuck into small spaces!
With tree roses, you have plenty of space to plant other perennials and annuals underneath them.
While rose books will caution that the Europeana rose Â is prone to mildew problems, this is not an issue in my brothers, dry Los Angeles garden.
We can only wish for fungus with our drought challenged yards!
Rose Tree Maintenance
Keep it simple stupid!
Here are some basics for rose care in mild winter areas such as Los Angeles planting zone 10
- Water newly planted tree roses three times per week to help establish deep roots.
- Reduce watering to Â one time per week after the three month period. Water more often if it’s extra warm.
- “Deadhead”or cut off spent blooms to promote more blooming on floribunda roses such as the Europeana.
- Feed the roses when they start to leaf out in the spring and then again a few weeks later when they bloom. Use a fertilizer formulated for roses and don’t fertilize plants in the dead heat of summer- you risk “burning” them!
- Prune or cut away any stems that grow along the tree trunk and are below the graft union.
The above are only basic instructions for rose care.
If you want expert, detailed instructions, I recommend the American Rose Society website.
Knock yourself out!
Watch Shirley’s Guide to Rose Selection
Anigozanthos, Red “Kangaroo Paws”
Kangaroo paws are native plants in Australia that thrive in warm, Â dry climates!
Anigozanthos enjoy an extended blooming period in Southern California where the weather mimics native conditions in Australia.
That will put a smile on a new gardeners face!
These “workhorse”plants have found a special place in my heart and my gardens.
Colors range from pale to vivid yellows, orange, reds, pinks, pale greens and blends.
When the Kangaroo paw is not in bloom, the plant sports glossy green strap-like leaves that act as a punctuation mark in the garden.
Although the plants are low maintenance, they can be susceptible to Ink Spot disease and fungus.
Make sure you don’t drown these plants with too much water and ensure that the soil has good drainage to avoid disease.
Kangaroo paws are dramatic looking plants, especially when set in front of a wall where the velvety paws are highlighted.
I like to use Kangaroo paws as a light, informal hedge.
They are very airy looking.
Kangaroo Paw Care
I refer to Merv Turner’s five rules for Kangaroo paw care.
Merv was an early hybridizer and Kangaroo paw expert.
- Plant in a sunny and open position in the garden. If in a frosty area, plant under eaves on the south side of the house or under a high tree canopy.
- Provide these plants with excellent drainage.
- In summer dry climates provide these plants with regular water (providing the drainage is good) to keep plants evergreen.
- Fertilize, but not heavily, and keep Phosphorus on the low side.
- Annual clean up. After the flowering period remove the old leaves down to as low as possible. Fans only flower once and need to be cleaned out at the end of a season. Care should be exercised that the new emerging fans are not damaged.
San Marcos Growers in Southern California is an excellent resource for more Kangaroo paw information.
I copied the care instructions from their website because I couldn’t improve on the advice found there!
Verbena Ground Cover
Verbena doesn’t know when to stop blooming!
In order to create a multi-tiered garden effect, a ground cover plant was needed to carpet the bottom of the garden.
Purple colored Verbena was my choice for obvious reasons.
This low growing perennial is known for it’s cascading and creeping habit and it seems to bloom year-round except in cold weather!
Verbena is an excellent spilling plant for container gardens as well.
Verbena Plant Care
Verbenas are truly “Fa get about it” plants that even the most neglectful gardener can grow!
- Water three times per week when newly planted to help establish roots. After Â a month or so, taper watering to once per week.
- Deadhead or trim spent blooms for repeat performance
I don’t bother to fertilize ground cover Verbenas though I’ve been known to feed them Â infrequently when planted in mixed containers.
Allow the spreading Verbena to creep over the edge of the garden bed- it looks better this way and softens the edges.
I can’t stand to see this plant “trimmed” to stay within the confines of the garden bed.
Let it live a little!
Simple Design Details
Why stop with red plants, paint the door red too!
A small detail such as painting your front in a color that compliments your garden goes a long way.
It’s like putting lipstick on- instant lift!
A flowering easy care Mandevilla vine dresses up the entry as well.
Glossy, wine-red ceramic containers within the garden bed are called into service when the rose trees and Kangaroo paws are not in bloom.
A garden plant scheme doesn’t get any easier than the one presented here.
If you are a new gardener don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to recreate a Chelsea Garden Show display garden!
- Start with a few plants that work well together and compliment the color of the house.
- Select plant varieties in odd number combinations- three or five different plants.
- Aim for a multi layer effect- tall, medium and low growing plants.
- Use rose trees in place of rose bushes in small garden beds.
- Add colorful garden containers within the garden bed for year round color.
- Take some time to study the sun patterns on your yard and place plants and decor where they will shine the most!
Treat yourself to an uplifting entry garden.
You deserve to come home to a happy place after a long day’s work!
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