Perennials surrounding the pond


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Apologies if this isn't appropriate for the forum, since I'm asking about regular garden perennials. But since they're going around the pond and I need them to complement the pond and pond plants, I felt like this was the more appropriate place to ask.

I'm in zone 7A. I'm attaching two photos of my pond that were taking a little over a week ago, but note that since then I've removed the cattails from the pond and I'm in the middle of dividing the purple irises and putting them on both the left and right side of the pond (to flank the boulders in the back), with pond lilies in the front.

There are trees just above the pond, so the front of the pond is in part sun while the back is in mostly shade (dappled sun in some areas, I guess). The front of the pond has a 3-4" ledge that keeps water from running in to it, but the back is built up about 10-12" above the ground so it has a much taller wall of river rock back there.

I really want to improve the look of the border with natural-looking perennials, but I'm kind of at a loss on what to do. I've spent hundreds of dollars to plant several types of flowers and ornamental grass along the back, and they always look good the first year... but then never come back :-( My guess is either not enough sun, or the soil is too wet, or both.

I've planted a few types of ivy along the front, but even though ivy does well everywhere else in my yard, they've never survived here, either.

I have a ton of Mondo Grass, Queen Anne ivy, Autumn Joy sedum (aka Stonecrop), Purple Heart setcreasea, and bearded irises (mostly light purple), which you can see that I've used to fill in the garden to the left of the pond. The irises and sedum are both part-sun to full-sun perennials, though, so while the height would be good for behind the pond, it's really too shaded and wet. I have a Japanese maple behind the pond right now (on the left side), but it's in a container and I'm about to move it because it really needs more sun, too.

Can you guys suggest any perennials I might use around the border that would work well for the area and matches what I already have in place?
 

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For the shady part you might consider hostas - they love shade and water, so they'd be perfectly happy and give you a lovely backdrop. They come in so many different color variations and sizes - I have a mouse ear variety that is barely six inches tall and a big blue that is almost four feet tall. You can plant them directly IN the pond - that's how much they love water!

For the front side I would consider one of the creeping sedums - again there are so many varieties, it's really up to you what you use. Or even mix a few different types. Or try vinca - it's a great creeper, is sturdy enough that you can step on it without causing damage, and has pretty purple flowers in the spring. Garden centers have started marketing a number of ground covers as "steppables" meaning exactly that - they can take some foot traffic which is what you want anywhere you might want to walk to get closer to the pond.

And don't be discouraged by plants you've lost - it's a common garden phenomenon. We often laugh (haha. My husband isn't really laughing!) about all the plants we've bought and loved that never came back. You just have to hit on the right combination of plant and location. Make sure that your new plants get plenty of water the first couple of years and once they settle in you'll be set! Actually, by year three you'll be looking to divide and find new place to plant all the things that are now crowding each other out. For ideas on what will grow well in your area, look to see what your neighbors are growing. I used to shy away from "common plants" - didn't want to be like everyone else - but then I learned there's a reason why things are used so frequently - they do well! Build your framework with dependable plants and then you can experiment here and there with more unusual things.
 
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HOSTAS! love them! Wild ferns? If your looking for quick cover then may I suggest crowsfoot buttercup but you have to keep it in check. It will take over. What about one of the Tut grasses?
 
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I'll also make the suggestions of Hostas or ferns for the back shady area if you're looking for an easy dependable perennial. For a bit of color, Astibles come in a range of sizes & also love damp shade. Woodland phlox is a great, low growing ground cover that will take up to about a half day of sun. If you'd like a larger, evergreen shrub as a backdrop, I love my Leucothoe, rainbow (these do need a neutral to acidic soil, though)
 
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In addition to what was said: acorus, hellebores, epimediums, hardy gingers, brunnera, heuchera, Solomon seals (true and false) and lily-of-the valley shrub (pieris; plant lily-of-valley can be invasive)
 
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I'll also make the suggestions of Hostas or ferns for the back shady area if you're looking for an easy dependable perennial. For a bit of color, Astibles come in a range of sizes & also love damp shade. Woodland phlox is a great, low growing ground cover that will take up to about a half day of sun. If you'd like a larger, evergreen shrub as a backdrop, I love my Leucothoe, rainbow (these do need a neutral to acidic soil, though)
Hey, we're neighbors! Rock Creek here :)

I like my hostas, too, but after my last divide I have them everywhere! I'm not even joking, I have around 30 of them spread out over the yard, and I can easily divide 3 of them next Spring in to at least 10. I have 2 right now that I don't know what to do with, but I'm afraid that putting them in the back of the pond will completely hide them when looking from the front.

I have around 100 bunches of Mondo Grass from my last divide that I can spread around, but I don't think that would really look right, either.

And I have about 50 bearded iris bulbs that are dying fast if I can't find them a home. And another 50 that I haven't divided yet, so that'll probably be an October project.

I've had these on our local site for a few weeks, @BKHpondcritters, but no takers :-( I think everybody has more of these than they know what to do with.

I'm taking notes on these suggestions so I can see what I can find on closeout next week :-D I like the look of phlox and vinca and I've had both, but neither came back so I'm a little wary about spending too much on them. I looked up Dragon's Blood sedum and that might look great in the front, and go along with the Autumn Joy sedum I have everywhere else! But I'm going to see what I can find and afford, these all look like great suggestions :)
 
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Howdy neighbor! I know what you mean about Hostas taking over - they do have a tendency to overgrow & when you divide them, it's so hard to know what to do with all the left over chunks (and who can simply throw away baby plants?? Not me...). My gardens overflow (mostly the sun-lovers at this point, but some of the shade gardens have maxed out as well) and I have several friends who come over each Spring to pilfer my excess. If you're ever in the mood for a 'field trip' look me up! :)
 
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I have to retract a little of what I said earlier... I didn't know there were over 70 species and 3,000 varieties of hostas!! I had no clue, I've seen maybe 4 or 5 of them.

I'm not sure what kind I've been dividing all over the place, but I discovered that I had a completely different variety in the side yard; thicker, darker leaves, and it's considerably taller and less wide.

I dug one up from the side yard and moved it next to the pond, near the back but not completely in the rear. It looks good, and if it's still doing well in a few days then I'll dig up my second one for the other side.

Attached is a pic of the kind I have in abundance; there are 3 in this bed that I can easily split in to 10. I'll try to post a pic of the other variety tomorrow if it's not raining, so you can see the difference.

That's an Autumn Joy sedum between the hostas... not a perfect location, they're really better for part- to full-sun. I've divided these and moved them in a dozen places, too, and now I'm debating on whether to remove them from this bed entirely.

I'm tempted to find a nursery with a wide variety of hostas and making a total hosta shade garden! LOL

@Lisak1, which variety do you have that can actually be planted in the pond? Is it partially submerged, or completely underwater? That opens up a few ideas...
 

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which variety do you have that can actually be planted in the pond? Is it partially submerged, or completely underwater? That opens up a few ideas...
Any hosta will do just fine in the margins of the pond, between the rocks in your waterfall, anywhere that they roots can be in the water they will LOVE. I've even seen them growing in the top of biofilter boxes. Here's a couple growing in my down flow bog. (Ignore all those petals - that was from a few weeks ago when my crabapple was gifting me with piles and piles of floating petals.) These are planted directly in the gravel and are in the flow of water year round. They are very happy here. I stuck them in as an experiment when I was dividing and moving them, just to see how they would do. These are in full sun all day, which in the world of hostas is considered a no-no, but they do beautifully up until the very hottest days of August. Then I just cut out the burned leaves and the ones underneath are fresh and lovely. I think being in the water constantly helps them withstand the heat and full on sun.

122292



I have learned to love hostas. Like you, I had no idea there were so many varieties. We have a farm near us where the owner is truly obsessed with hostas - he has hundreds of varieties growing all over his property. He holds one big sale a year of plants that he has divided and potted up to sell and you can wander around and see all the different types growing. He knows every single variety and how it performs by heart. Quite the experience!
 
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That is the largest hosta if my memory serves. My largest is a Blue Angel - it's huge!
I'll have to look up the Blue Angel. My Empress Wu's are truly gigantic and I love them. Last fall I divided part of one for a friend and she is thrilled with it.
 
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Next year is going to be a big dividing year for me. I have a nice shady spot ready for a new hosta garden!
 
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For those interested, I've become BFFs with the manager of the garden department at Lowes (in Elkin, @BKHpondcritters... Deborah knows her stuff!) and have gotten some great deals on clearance plants! I found that they can be very negotiable on perennials that are about to get tossed... I've gotten David Viburnum that usually sells for $40 for $3!

Cone flower, Sun Blanket Flower, Ajuga, Vernique Rose Speedwell, and Coral Bells have also helped me to fill in a lot of areas. These were all around $1 /each, sometimes less.

I moved some hostas near the back of the pond, then filled in some Autumn Joy sedum around the sides. In the front I added some low-growing sedum mix, and closer to the boulders I planted some sort of Dryopteris; the label doesn't specify which species, but it's for full shade and gets up to 4' tall, so it should give me the height I want there.

And I've used the Purple Heart setcreasa pretty much everywhere I have an empty spot... I know it says "full sun", but I've had it in shady areas and it does well. Even better, it seems impossible to kill! Break off a chunk, stick it in the ground, and a few weeks later you have flowers on it!

I'll post some pictures once I finish mulching, so give me a week or two. The flowers don't look great right now, but I have high hopes for next year! If these perennials survive the winter (and they should!) then it'll look awesome in the Spring :)
 
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I love the idea of getting deals on plants at the big box store. I always check out their "ready to toss" rack for anything that looks hopeful. Most of the time they just need a little TLC.

Can't wait to see pictures!
 
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Bargain plants are always great to find! I look forward to seeing pictures of how it's all come together. PS - Your Setcresea won't over winter in the ground here, but you could pot some cuttings (yes, it roots super easy!!) and bring it in as a houseplant. Then you'd have some ready to go next year!
 

addy1

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Most of my yard plants were Lowes about to toss plants. Good deals to be had.
 
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@BKHpondcritters , I've actually had this Purple Heart for 7 or 8 years, and it comes back every Spring! Bigger and bigger. Maybe because it's always been in a part shade area that's protected it from frost? I hope that's not it, because I've divided it in to a thousand areas... Monrovia says it's good with zone 7-11, so I was going by that.

I'm thinking about setting up a greenhouse, though, because I have too many perennials to bring in over the winter! But I'll definitely stash some of this purple heart in there, too... just in case. It's too pretty to lose!
 

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Can you guys suggest any perennials I might use around the border that would work well for the area and matches what I already have in place?
I'm new to ponding but a long time gardner... I've come to love hardy biennials that just seed themselves and creep around the yard. Especially when you want a large space like that filled quickly. Blue salvia, coreopsis, blanketflower, sweet william, etc. Columbines and foxglove would do well in the shade/partial shade.

What you've already done is very pretty as is. Keep digging!
 
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@BKHpondcritters , I've actually had this Purple Heart for 7 or 8 years, and it comes back every Spring! Bigger and bigger. Maybe because it's always been in a part shade area that's protected it from frost? I hope that's not it, because I've divided it in to a thousand areas... Monrovia says it's good with zone 7-11, so I was going by that.

I'm thinking about setting up a greenhouse, though, because I have too many perennials to bring in over the winter! But I'll definitely stash some of this purple heart in there, too... just in case. It's too pretty to lose!
Wow! I'm super impressed. Mine didn't over winter here (zone 7a) I didn't actually expect it to, but where it crept out of its pots & landed in the ground, the next spring it did not make a reappearance. You're probably a bit warmer over winter than we are up here (not quite high country, but well above Piedmont level) That might have something to do with it. But, yeah... I'd make sure to bring at least a bit indoors over winter, just in case...
 

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