Saturday, July 16, 2011

Go privacy green. In with light and nature, out with peering eyes

     Stuck in a semi-urban area? Feel claustrophobic? If you feel peering eyes too close to your window, go privacy green.
     My small bungalow had a few great features. One was lots of big windows. We who love light and airy living spaces don't have to sacrifice privacy. Plant the right shrubs and place big potted plants in front of the window. The photo below is one of my three Sweet Viburnum, among the easiest and most cooperative plants one can grow.
     Viburnum come in many varieties, even in dwarf cultivars. The leaves have an eye-catching texture and they'll change to a light lavender in the winter. The tiny flowers are pink or white and berries provide food for birds. Viburnum would prefer full sun, but a shaded spot won't deter them. These two are on the north side of my house which doesn't get a lot of direct sun. They survived two vicious winters (okay, Florida freezes, but still freezes burrrrrrrr). Viburnum thrives as far north as zone 2 and that is cold, bubba.
      In our springtime,  Viburnum blooms give off a light scent sort of like a magnolia blossom. I planted these five years ago and now must trim the tops because they are close to the roof. They are fast growers.

     This potted plant is a Red Dragon plant, actually three of them. Placed on a stand, small table, child's colorful chair, stack of adobe bricks, you are only limited by your imagination for plant stands. A healthy plant will obscure the view into your windows. Plus, you can complement or contrast the look of your house. A great plant stand doesn't have to be store bought or cost a fortune.

    The massive six-foot high morass of vine below started as four 1-gallon pots of Confederate Jasmine. Within four years they engulfed my chain link fence and now, at eight years, the vines are so thick it would take a buzz saw to get through them. Come spring, it is a wall of heavenly-smelling white. My neighbor says he drives by with his head out the window to get a better whiff of my jasmine.

  The photos below show what I started with. To get past the first few years I put up the wicker fencing along my chain link. That's long gone from the elements, replaced by a glorious jasmine vine. My handiwork made an impression, I'm sure, because a few years ago I noticed the local electric company planted Confederate Jasmine plants ten feet apart, all along the high chain link fence that encircles a small substation two blocks away. Jasmine is a lot prettier than electric coils.


The plant below is a broad leave philodendron, very pleased a spot kissed by the morning sun. 

     The key to making it work is getting the right plant for the spot. The Viburnum are hardy plants, and they are on the north side of the house, typically a tough area battered by brisk north winds. Is the spot sunny? Shady? Mixed? What type of stand will make the house look great? What kind of plant will complement, contrast? More important, though, what kind of plant will thrive in the spot? Afterward, keep the plant tags in a holder for easy care reference.


 One last great surprise  here!

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