Coop Office Make-Over at Mid-Summer

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When I last reported on this make-over I declared that I’d kept the old junipers, despite your advice, and showed pics of the limbed-up old junipers looking pretty sculptural with all the dead matter removed.

But now with dozens of new perennials and 18 new shrubs all at their mid-summer best, bare juniper parts are barely visible.

This is my favorite before/after combo – what people see as they leave the visitors’ entrance. I cringed every time I saw those overgrown junipers made ugly and half-dead by shearing.

Like most landscapes around public and commercial buildings, this one HAS to be low-maintenance while looking good. So like the “Mostly Shrubs” city center I recently showed you, the shrubs here will eventually fill up these foundation borders, and I’ll gradually reduce the number of perennials to pockets of color here and there.

Naturally, there are no annuals, and therefore no need for irrigation after new plants (all pretty drought-tolerant) are established.

Thanks to all the full-grown perennials donated for the project, the garden looks pretty darn full in its first year, and the coop only had to spend $1,500 on plants and materials.

Anyone hazard a guess as to what this make-over would cost if done professionally – with no volunteer gardeners or donated plants?

Plants ID’d

Shrubs above: 3 ‘Gumdrop Burgundy Candy’ Ninebarks (native, fast-growing, ultimate size 4-5′ x 30-36″) and 3 Golden Mops’ Threadleaf False Cypress we chose for the yellow leaf color to contrast with the deep green of the Junipers and purple leaves of the Ninebark.

Perennials above: 2 ‘Walker’s Low” Catmint, a few donated Garden Phlox and many donated Black-eyed Susans (native and the Maryland State Flower. This cheerful long-bloomer is so popular in Old Greenbelt, it’s almost our signature plant.)

Shrubs above: ‘Ginger Wine’ Ninebarks, and  ‘Ogon’ Spireas (chartreuse, willow-like leaves and white flowers in the spring).

Perennials above: Many donated Purple Coneflower, another native, with long-lasting blooms that we’ll leave up in the fall for the goldfinches that love their seedheads. The white flowers on these (instead of the usual purple) were a big surprise. Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa) is an orange-blooming native plant that’s great for pollinators. And more Catmint ‘Walker’s Low.’

Shrubs above: 3 ‘Silver Mist’ Junipers’ (ultimate size 1′ x 5′), and ‘Ginger Wine’ Ninebark

Perennials above: Tons of donated Black-Eyed Susans, and 3 Kahori Scarlet Pinks (Dianthus hybrid), which bloom almost continuously throughout the season.

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Susan Harris

Susan’s a garden writer, teacher and activist in the Washington, D.C. area. Co-founder of GardenRant, she also wrote for national gardening magazines and independent garden centers before retiring in 2014. Now she has time for these projects:

  • Founding and now managing the pro-science educational nonprofit GOOD GARDENING VIDEOS that finds and promotes the best videos on YouTube for teaching people to garden.
  • Creating and managing DC GARDENS, the nonprofit campaign to promote the public gardens of the Washington, D.C. area, and gardening by locals.
  • Creating and editing the community website GREENBELT ONLINE to serve her adopted hometown of Greenbelt, Maryland (a “New Deal Utopia” founded in 1937).
  • Also in Greenbelt, MD, writing the e-newsletter and serving on the Board of Directors for the cooperatively-owned music and arts venue and restaurant called the NEW DEAL CAFE.

Contact Susan via email or by leaving a comment here.

Photo by Stephen Brown.

4 COMMENTS

  1. I think it looks great and hope you will make a post with a photo of it next year so we can see its progression. Obviously, you made the right choice in keeping the old junipers.

  2. Ninebarks make such nice shrubs, interest across the year and exciting new varieties (some usefully small) keep appearing. Native, too! They root easily from late spring cuttings and grow fast, so you can invest in one pricey plant of a fancy new cultivar, and have a dozen healthy plants in a year’s time.

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