"Help Steve! If anyone can answer this, it is YOU!!" [So true. GG]
"On either side of the front steps, I need a small evergreen evergreen shrub. I already have a tea olive on each side and I have been planting annuals (geraniums) in these 2 spots, but now I want something a little more permanent. Directly in front of the steps is a horseshoe area that currently has liriope around the edge and coreopsis in the center. [See below.] I want to redo that area as well, planting a perennial border, I think, with something in the front - flowering? I know you are probably inundated with questions, but is it possible to get some suggestions for both of these areas."
JoEllen, Columibia, SC
The Grump's reply: Do you mind if I share your pictures and request for ideas with my readers? The last time I did this we got a lot of good suggestions.
A couple of things do come to mind though. First, you have a very nice looking house. Resist the temptation to hide it behind a wall of shrubs. (See my story "Don't Hide the House") from our recent June issue.
Second, your porch screams out for one or two colorful containers up by the front door. Avoid red flowers that would clash with the brick.
Third, I would remove the liriope from the horseshoe and go with flowers. You could plant a solid mass of one color for big impact or maybe mix some plants, but keep the variety down to no more than three. I would keep whatever you plant there fairly low, so you don't hide the front steps. Take a look at Serena angelonia, one of my favorite annuals. It blooms all summer, comes in blue-purple, pink, or white (I like the blue-purple), grows about 15-18 inches tall, and doesn't need much watering.Lantana would also work well there.
You know, another thing you might consider for your horseshoe is some sort of big ornament or pot, like an olive jar or a nice fountain, in line with the front door and then plant something low around it.
What do you think, Grumpians? Any brilliant, creative, and tasteful options for JoEllen to pursue? She's itching to go to the nursery! Let her hear from you!