I’m in the High park area. I have 3 cedars in the north east corner of the backyard. I would like to plant a flowering bush, in front of them, and then some smaller perennials. They have full southern exposure, all day. What is the best to plant here? I have sedum right now, and they are doing poorly, as do most annuals that I have planted there in the past. I am making that section of the garden bigger in the spring, so would like to plan it out better.
I honestly know nothing about soil ( next in my to learn list). Do I need to alter the soil condition somehow
I appreciate any suggestions.
Thank you for contacting the Toronto Master Gardeners with your inquiry.
Choosing perennials for one’s garden can be daunting–the options are limitless. ‘The right plant in the right place’ will keep plant care to a minimum. Therefore it is important that one determine soil conditions, light patterns, available moisture, prevailing winds and temperature ranges before making plant choices. How much space do you have for plants? One must consider the mature sizes of the plants. What colours do you prefer- hot colours which include reds, oranges, yellows or cool colours- blues and pinks. Most perennials bloom for a specific time during the growing season; many perennials have interesting foliage. Do you want plants that spread or stay in clumps?
Consider whether there are some plants in your neighbours’ gardens that you have found interesting over the past few years, and ask your neighbours about these. They likely will be willing to provide advice (and perhaps even cuttings…). Your local garden centre may also help you determine what would work in your garden.
The first step to a successful garden starts with the soil. Bed preparation is very important, as it will determine how well your plants will eventually grow. A clay soil drains very slowly whereas sandy soil drains very quickly. Both soil types lack organic matter and a good soil structure which plants need to be healthy and reach their potential. Regardless of your soil type, adding compost every year will enrich it and provide nourishment for your new plants and the existing ones too. You do not need to cultivate excessively, simply add a couple of inches of compost to the top of the bed and allow the worms to do there magic.
To start, I suggest you review our answer to a similar question, Gardening/Landscaping Ideas which highlights a list of easy to grow perennials.
You might enjoy getting some inspiration from some of our gardening guides. For growing in sun see https://www.torontomastergardeners.ca/gardeningguides/perennials-for-full-sun-a-toronto-master-gardeners-guide/
Ornamental Shrubs for Various Light Conditions
Improving your Soil Organically
We receive numerous questions regarding perennials. By typing “perennials” in the search bar located on the right will bring up some of our earlier posts.
Lastly, we recommend adding mulch to your garden bed to help with moisture retention and weed suppression. We usually recommend applying mulch to a depth of 10 to 15 cm (4 to 6 inches) for best results. When applying mulch, ensure the mulch does not touch the crowns or stems of plants to avoid rot caused by the moisture-retentive quality of the mulch. Leave about 2.5cm around the plant.
Good Luck and have fun planning your garden.