westes

Need Plant Ideas for a Naked Wall in Shade

I have a very plain looking wall of my home that is in permanent shade and would benefit from being filled with a plant. I could put in a large rhododendron, or alternately I could look at some kind of flowering vine or rose. I do not want vines to permanently attach to the structure of the home. I could place some kind of trellis there if it is cost-effective. What are some plant ideas for this area? If you have a design idea for a trellis or structure to support the plant, let me know that as well.




Comments (30)

  • PRO
    Patricia Colwell Consulting

    Roses need the sun and the easiest is to take the picture from much further back for us to actually see the space. But really what you need to do is go to your garden center and see what would work in your area

    westes Zone 9a California SF Bay thanked Patricia Colwell Consulting
  • westes Zone 9a California SF Bay

    @Patricia Colwell Consulting Why would I go to a garden center to get design ideas? Most of the people working there are minimum wage and have no training in design. I can barely get most of them to tell me if they have a specific plant in stock.

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  • PRO
    Yardvaark

    I agree, Westes, The garden center for design is usually only going to be useful if they have a dedicated designer providing those services. Once in a while, a person very knowledgeable about design happens to be employed, but this is an exception, not the rule.

    FYI, the picture you've provided is not enough for one to make a design decision. Instead of showing just the planting spot, you need to show surroundings ... the whole wall.

    westes Zone 9a California SF Bay thanked Yardvaark
  • gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9)

    I believe the suggestion to visit the garden center was not to get design ideas but to see what they carried plant-wise that would work in that particular situation. Plant selection is not the same as landscape design and finding a single plant for a specific location dictated by space and lighting is not a design issue. No need to make this into something bigger or more of a project than it really is!!

    A lot of plants could work in that situation. You just need to narrow in on those that are shade tolerant (which roses are NOT!), will provide enough height to make a presence yet not spread too wide. Going to the garden center to see what they stock that fits the requirements but you have not yet thought of makes perfect sense!

    Another possibility is to find a large container that fits the space and then fill that with either permanent or seasonal plants that fit both the container and the growing conditions

    I would also not summarily dismiss a nursery or garden center of not having staff that is knowledgeable in design. Virtually every larger nursery or garden center in my area has employees that either already have design training (part of their CPH certification) or have fledgling designers working there to broaden their plant knowledge. Some are even practicing self-employed designers that are just supplementing their income via a love of plants. That's how I got my start nearly 30 years ago!! You might be very pleasantly surprised :-)

    And while the practice is not necessarily uniform, even very rookie seasonal staff at nurseries here get more than minimum wage. And almost all new hirees will have basic plant knowledge...they don't get hired unless they do. A retail nursery garden center is not a box store or Walmart and hiring qualifications are not at all the same.

    westes Zone 9a California SF Bay thanked gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9)
  • PRO
    Patricia Colwell Consulting

    I never mentioned garden design but you need to know what grows in your area and in your specific place you want to plant. It was obvious you did not know what you could put there. I really think you should not think people who work for minimum wage are stupid either. I worked in a garden center for min. wage under the guidsnce of a master gardner from Holland who was retired and just enjoyed the job.

    westes Zone 9a California SF Bay thanked Patricia Colwell Consulting
  • apple_pie_order

    The succulents in the pot look like they are doing well. The other plants look like they are not getting nearly enough light. In my fire-prone area of CA, the trend is to choose a rock mulch under the eaves to avoid plants acting as ladder fuel toward the roof. A wall sculpture and some carefully arranged pots of fire-resistant succulents would be options.


    Gilbert the Gecko Wall Art · More Info


    westes Zone 9a California SF Bay thanked apple_pie_order
  • littlebug zone 5 Missouri

    “Going to the garden center” does not mean going to Walmart or Lowe’s or whatever the California equivalent of the Big Box store is. I can fully understand why you can’t get meaningful advice if that’s where you are going.

    Visit a REAL garden center - a nursery, greenhouse, or landscaping business. A place where plants is their only focus. That’s where you can get intelligent advice.

    westes Zone 9a California SF Bay thanked littlebug zone 5 Missouri
  • westes Zone 9a California SF Bay

    Here is a better photo of the whole wall. That whole area is being redone. Pay no attention to the pots that are there, and pay no attention to the condition of the plants in those pots (all new plantings). The thing I was trying to focus on in this post was what plants would give some vertical texture to a big empty wall.



    When I go to edit my original post I get "Page not found". I reported that to support and they gave a nonsense reply. The gardenweb/houzz website just doesn't work. If there is an Edit button still present (and today for me on this post there still is), then pressing Edit should give you an edit window.

  • westes Zone 9a California SF Bay

    @apple_pie_order, a sculpture would be potentially brilliant, but it is a huge design risk. If you get that wrong you impair the ability to resell the house. It would definitely stand out boldly, so people would gravitate toward that. I am probably not that ambitious for now.

  • westes Zone 9a California SF Bay

    @gardengal48 Okay I can go to a local nursery and ask them what plants they have that tolerate shade and that grow like a vine on a trellis? But that is not mutually exclusive of asking people on gardenweb what kind of *design* would they use in that area. And plant selection is very much part of design, when the plant itself is the main design element.

  • Christopher C Nc

    A camellia shrub would work there. Just be sure to check for mature size. If you want to try something more dramatic, look into the larger sized Phormiums, New Zealand Flax. Is this where the oil jar and Ponytail Palm were going to go?

    westes Zone 9a California SF Bay thanked Christopher C Nc
  • westes Zone 9a California SF Bay

    @Christopher C Nc, Phormiums are beautiful, but I would use those as part of a larger landscape. I should try to use more of those as the color variations are fantastic.

    For that wall Camelia sounds interesting. Is there a Camelia variety that grows on a trellis like a twisted vine?

    The far right corner (off the edge of the image) is where we are thinking about putting the large pot. Ponytail Palm is still a candidate for that. Not sure a Palm goes well with a Camelia.

  • Christopher C Nc

    A camellia is a shrub, not a vine. No trellis needed. It looks like one of the smaller variety would fit in there nicely. Camellias and real palm trees, not palm in name only grow in the same gardens all over the south east where real palm trees will grow.

    As for a Ponytail Palm and camellia in the same room, they both have the same glossy shine and deep green color in the leaves so there is some flow with that. Otherwise it is an aesthetic choice you as the designer will have to make yourself.

    westes Zone 9a California SF Bay thanked Christopher C Nc
  • westes Zone 9a California SF Bay

    @christopher C, there are articles online talking about how to espalier a camelia, but I guess that is a lot of work. I was imagining a plant that would let me still see the wll behind it, but would create some nice complexity by its shape. Flowers of a camelia would be nice, but that would tend to be a solid wall of leaves that would hide anything behind it?

  • Christopher C Nc

    Yes it is a dense green shrub. No wall peeking.

    Ok on to an airy plan B. Foxtail Fern, which is not a fern much like a Ponytail Palm is not a palm. Botanical name: Asparagus aethiopicus. Another asparagus family member. This will be a potted plant and will need a pedestal to raise it to the desired height on the wall.

    westes Zone 9a California SF Bay thanked Christopher C Nc
  • apple_pie_order

    Are you preparing to sell?

    westes Zone 9a California SF Bay thanked apple_pie_order
  • PRO
    Yardvaark

    That you want to see the wall brings to mind some kind of topiary, which you could make a simple one out of a shade tolerant shrub. I can't think of a shrub that's going to allow you to see what's behind it on its own, unless there's something wrong with it.


    westes Zone 9a California SF Bay thanked Yardvaark
  • westes Zone 9a California SF Bay

    @christopher, foxtail fern is not going to give much height on the wall, unless you use a giant bot. I was somehow thinking of a single plant that weaves its pattern along the entire vertical surface of the wall.

  • westes Zone 9a California SF Bay

    @apple_pie_order Will sell within two years.

  • westes Zone 9a California SF Bay

    @Yardvaark, yes that is the kind of design I am thinking of, although that might be a tough one to maintain. In any case, any plant that gives vertical design and structure to an otherwise boring wall is what I am trying to consider.

  • PRO
    Yardvaark

    Nothing is coming to mind as a way to have height, see some wall behind it, except a topiary or espalier, and either is going to require some occasional trimming attention (a simple topiary, a little less, I think,)

    Actually, I'm in disagreement with what you think you need here, and would lean in a different direction ... where the window is built upon and emphasized more by adding a shrub to underscore it, and the "white space" surrounding the ensemble is kept and used to set it off. In that case it would be helpful if the window had higher contrast trim (such as white) so as to distinguish it from the house body color scheme. But then, I doubt you would want to get that involved with a revamp. :-) The surrounding ground space could be broken up as you wish with lower material ... mulch, gravel, lawn, groundcover, perennials and annuals, etc. That said, yards are best designed with knowledge of total and surrounding space. It's anyone's guess how your corner would best fit in with the surrounding area.


    westes Zone 9a California SF Bay thanked Yardvaark
  • westes Zone 9a California SF Bay

    @Yardvaark, that design works, but what I was trying to do with the alternate design was make a very boring a simple-walled home have some pleasing complexity on its blank surfaces. I cannot rearchitect the home (cost-effectively anyway), so I was hoping that the landscape could help to dress up the walls.

  • PRO
    Yardvaark

    It's true that landscape can HELP dress up the wall, and you don't have to re-architect the home. You've got options and ideas you can play with in a variety of ways. But I don't think a plant that fulfills your requirements to a "T," exists.

    westes Zone 9a California SF Bay thanked Yardvaark
  • nandina

    You might consider a different approach. Rather than a 'plant' stroll through some of the inexpensive decorating stores such as Home Store which very often have displays of outdoor metal wall sculptures. Your wall needs a 'focus' spot at eye level and a hanging sculpture or creative seasonal wreaths or even an outdoor painting could work. You might enjoy changing the display through the seasons.

    westes Zone 9a California SF Bay thanked nandina
  • westes Zone 9a California SF Bay

    @nandina I agree that is good way to address the problem. But I think that is a higher risk project and I would need someone who is very good at design to help me with that.

  • Christopher C Nc

    Garden tchotchkes are without a doubt, the lowest 'risk' factor of any landscape decision. We are talking about a trinket here, a little piece of art. You can take it with when you sell. The riskiest part is securely fastening a screw into the wall of your garage if needed.

    You can never go wrong with The Green Man.


    Or you can Be Bold!



    westes Zone 9a California SF Bay thanked Christopher C Nc
  • westes Zone 9a California SF Bay

    @Christopher, what I mean by high risk is that this is a high-impact design statement. So if you get it wrong, you are making the statement "UGLY!" in very bold terms that every single person walking into your home will see. It would be easier to ignore an ugly plant choice. That is not saying no to your idea. It is saying I would need help to do it well.

    The bicycle looks like something you would see in the lair of Jason (the movie slasher in Friday the 13th). The bike belonged to one of his victims. :)

  • Christopher C Nc

    The bicycle looks like something you would see in the lair of Jason (the movie slasher in Friday the 13th). The bike belonged to one of his victims. :)

    Hahahahahaha 3XLOL! That's a first. I guess you won't ever be knocking on my front door.

    Just go with The Green Man.

    westes Zone 9a California SF Bay thanked Christopher C Nc
  • westes Zone 9a California SF Bay

    @christopher, I noticed this photo of a Camelia climbing a wall. This is the kind of effect I want, with parts of the wall showing, lots of the trunk twisting like a vine, and the occasional patch of leaves and flowers. Did they have to espalier the Camelia to get it to do this? I do not see the supports in this photo.



  • floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

    That camellia has been trained by pruning. It's not climbing per se, it's just growing in front of the wall. Source of your picture: https://laetitiamaklouf.com/blog/2012/04/my-mothers-camellias?rq=Camellias The picture is from the UK and camellias are often grown against walls here either for protection or due to lack of space.

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