Foundation Plants: Where to Start with a New Garden


When my kids are big and grown, I’d like to spend my days gardening. And shopping. But mostly gardening. And maaaaybe some woodworking. And gardening. Oh! And the occasional spa day. That would all be very very nice. Until then… I wanted to give you a little glimpse of our garden as is… with some help from the Southern Living Plant Collection. I met the folks from the Southern Living Plant Collection a YEAR ago and we’ve been chatting ever since. I’m kinduva garden geek that way… When we closed on the current house, I knew there were some serious landscaping needs.

I’m new to this gardening/ landscaping gig. But here’s what I know. Nothing is permanent. Gardening follows lots of the same principles of design: consider texture, color, proportion. And of course, HAVE FUN with it!! Our old house was a blank canvas. It was so overgrown with ugliness, that we ultimately cleared out everything.

This new house is  a very different beast.  It has lots of lush garden beds, but they’ve been neglected for years. And many of them are overly mature and in dire need of big time pruning.  Our landscaping budget was non existent but there were some things that HAD the be done.  On either side of the front door were two completely overgrown yew trees. Massive. They came out along with a tree right next to the foyer that was keeping the space super dark.  We also removed the gajillion year old boxwoods that were effectively segmenting the back patio from the rest of the yard.  All to say we had some voids to fill.

Despite the name, The Southern Living Plant Collection has PLENTY of options for those of us who don’t live down south! (Your local nursery will only carry suitable plants for your zone, but always check your plant hardiness map before ordering plants online!) Here in the northeast it’s important to balance the showy flowering perennials with the consistent evergreens that will maintain their color throughout the dull winter.

My goal for this past spring and summer was to fill in the gaps left by the overgrown bushes we removed and to begin to add foundation plants along the patio. Boxwoods are a staple here in Connecticut. I’ve found they do better when wrapped up each winter, but they’re still the perfect plant to start with in lots of beds. The Southern Living Plant Collection has a great boxwood variety, Baby Gem™ Boxwood. Note: This fine-textured broadleafed evergreen grows as tall as it is wide, reaching a maintainable size of 3 feet and resembling a little green muffin.  We planted them around the patio and they’re perfection. Over time they’ll fill in to become a small little hedge to delineate the flagstones and the soon-to-be fence.

For the quintessential summer plant in this neck of the woods, we used hydrangeas in the new bed where the overgrown boxwood bush used to be. These plants are tiny right now, but next summer they will fill in beautifully and be a great visual break between the patio and the lawn. Also? I’ll have free props for all my summer blog shoots!!

As tempting as it is to spend some major time (and therefore money!) on the front of the house where we removed those large bushes, we decided to start gradually out back because that’s where WE enjoy the yard the most! So boxwoods and hydrangea and… these BEAUTIFUL azaleas to frame out this back bed opposite from the patio. (These Southern Living® Plant Collection Dear Dolores™ Hydrangeas rebloom over the course of the summer so I’m SUPER excited for some added color back there!)

We have a long way to go with this landscape of ours… but all of these incredible Southern Living plants have given us the best foundation. After a few months, all of these plants are still luscious and reblooming. Southern Living® Plants are known for being big and beautiful and healthy and so far, so good!

Even if you don’t have a garden, take the time to drool over their amazing catalog of plants. They have local retailers but there are also online purchasing options!
Online shopping for greenery? Yes, please!