Finding a Solution

“Finding a Solution”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana 


When Hurricane Katrina came through in August of 2005, we were spared any real damage.  We were so fortunate that our house did not sustain any damage beyond a little bent guttering and a few cracked roofing shingles along the roof’s edge.  The garden and the trees were a different matter.  We lost about seven big trees which made many areas of the garden go from mostly shady to mostly sunny.  We were very upset to lose our wonderful, large trees, but I have had the attitude that this loss has just allowed me to plant something different.

One area that has now become a problem is the garden around the back patio.  Pre-Katrina this was filled with mostly holly ferns and hostas.  For the last three summers, these shade loving plants have done okay with a lot of watering.  At the end of last summer, I decided that a few holly ferns that were in the sunniest area had to come out.  They were turning brown from too much sun.  I moved them to the side garden under some live oak trees, and they are thriving.  Now, I have come to realize that more plants are just going to have to be moved, too.  More holly ferns and hostas are just not happy.  They are getting way too much afternoon sun.  Their foliage is turning a pale green, in the case of the hostas, or is turning yellow and brown, in the case of the holly ferns.  When it gets a little cooler in the fall, I will be moving them to shadier quarters.  Now, my problem is what do I replace them with?

Around this patio area, I want something that will be low growing and evergreen – about the size of the holly ferns.  With our mild winter temperatures, we are often outside year round, and I want this area to look good all the time.  I guess I am looking for some “bones” for this patio garden.  I started looking through my garden books, but nothing struck me as right.  So, this meant I needed more garden books.  Using gift cards, I found two books that have helped me start to make some decisions.

Southern Shade (redu)


Southern Sun (redu)


I bought Southern Sun and Southern Shade by Jo Kellam.  These two books have great ideas for plants.  For just about all of my gardening years, I have had to deal with too much shade, so the sun book gave me some good ideas for plants, and since there still are areas around the patio that are shady, the shade book helps too.

So far, I am thinking about using agapanthus as the evergreen plants to replace the holly ferns.  They are evergreen in this area, and will also not grow so high.  I have some in other areas of the garden, and they are getting a little crowded, so using them should work out well both in design and in the pocket book.  I am still trying to decide on the smaller filler plants to take the place of the hostas.  It seems more research is needed.



  1. Jake said,

    July 28, 2009 at 11:39 pm

    I think you will be very pleased with Agapanthus. Please keep in mind there are other colours beside the over used blue. They also may not bloom for you the first year they are planted. I ahve heard they take a year off to get established.


    • Jan said,

      July 31, 2009 at 7:33 pm

      Jake, they often do take a year to get established, but that doesn’t bother me. I really want them for the foliage since the flowers aren’t around that long. I was thinking about adding some of the minature ones to the front. I have Elaine which is a dark inky blue which would look nice mixed in with the lighter blue I already have.

  2. Randy said,

    July 29, 2009 at 7:33 am

    Jan, don’t forget to take pictures while you work so we can watch the progress. 🙂

    • Jan said,

      July 31, 2009 at 7:31 pm

      Thanks for the reminder, Randy. I so often forget to take photos until every thing is finished, and I really want to have before, during, and after photos.

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