This parking area started with a gravel base. The wide stone steps create easy access to the front porch.
Removing and Adding Shrubs
The existing foundation planting needed some help. Older 'Helleri' hollies had died in spots, making the area look ragged. I quickly ripped them out. Then, I dug up and relocated a large sasanqua camellia. We were lucky enough to have three of these fall-blooming camellias planted along the foundation. After I pruned the lower limbs from these large shrubs, they looked like neat little evergreen trees. I also moved a large 'Mrs. G. G. Gerbing' azalea to the foundation. Using mature shrubs gave the entry a more established look. We added three nandinas (Nandina domestica) and two 'Bright 'n Tight' Carolina cherry laurels (Prunus caroliniana 'Bright 'n Tight'). The nandinas' red berries add winter interest, and the Carolina cherry laurels provide height and soften one corner of the house.
Once all the shrubs were in, it was time to show the neighbors how to create a colorful entry using annuals, perennials, and bulbs. I wanted to weave flowers and foliage on top of the wall. Some parts of the wall were 3 to 4 feet high, putting the plantings at eye level for anyone pulling into the parking court. In the fall, I planted daffodils, tulips, pansies, violas, red mustard, and a few perennials. I like using contrasting-colored plants next to each other, so I placed white tulips beside black violas. The creamy tulip petals really stand out against the purplish-black viola blooms. For a contrasting foliar combination, I planted fernlike green-and-white-variegated 'Brise d'Anjou' Jacob's ladder (Polemonium caeruleum 'Brise d'Anjou') next to the large, floppy 'Red Giant' mustard.
All of my hard work paid off in the spring as the colorful flowers began to emerge and the foliage unfurled. My wife was happy, and the neighbors took notice as the new landscape came to life. One neighbor, Earle Carpenter, stopped by and gave me the greatest compliment of all. He said the stone wall and plants looked like they had been there all along.
This article is from the March 2005 issue of Southern Living.