Here's a look at the front foundation planting today:
|Fully stocked - three evergreen Aucuba japonica shrubs, one Hydrangea quercifolia 'Snowflake, a camellia, lots of aquilegia, geraniums, balloon flowers, bugleweed, prostrate Japanese plum yew (Cephalotaxus harringtonia) and a few other odds and ends.|
And here's what it looked like two years ago (after I ripped out all the boring boxwoods and liriopes, plus the Nellie R. Stevens holly that was planted about 1 foot from the foundation):
|Just a bed of hopes and dreams back in November 2012. The only constants here are the camellia, a bit of ajuga and some columbine.|
|And here's one more photo showing the Hydrangea quercifolia (oakleaf hydrangea) when I installed it a couple of years ago. Scroll back up to the top of the page to look at that first photo. The oakleaf hydrangea is just as tall as the adjacent camellia now and has filled in its entire space and then some.|
What's the moral of showing these three photos side-by-side?
In a nutshell -- Don't give up!
If you ever feel discouraged about the state of your garden, just remember that a lot can change in a couple of years.
If you're dissatisfied with some of the plants in your landscape - if they don't bring joy to you and/or don't bring any benefits to the birds, bees, butterflies and other wildlife - don't be afraid to rip them out and start over. You might not get instant satisfaction, but with a little patience, your new vision could take shape sooner than you expected.
Something else to remember (and I'm guilty of this myself) is that plants often will grow larger than you anticipate. When you're planting a knee-high 3-gallon shrub, it's hard to imagine the plant growing 10 or 15 feet tall and wide. Sure, you can prune some plants to keep them in bounds. Certain plants even accept annual pruning gracefully as long as you perform it at the right time and in the right way, but you can save yourself a lot of hassle in the long run by trying to either (a) pick relatively slow-growing plants that won't need to be pruned so often or (b) choosing plants or cultivars whose mature size should be relatively compatible with the space available.
Like I said, I don't always (ever?) practice what I preach in this regard. That oakleaf hydrangea probably wants to grow about 10 to 12 feet tall and wide, which means I should have planted it at least 6 feet away from the house. Instead, I planted it about 2-3 feet from the foundation, so I'll probably be doing some annual pruning and/or enjoying the flowers poking into the porch. Hm...maybe I'd be OK with that latter scenario :-)