If there’s one bit of advice I can give to somewhat experienced DIY gardeners (in which I mean folks who are already familiar with the Right Plant, Right Place concept and utilizing shrubs for structure), it’s to plant your favorite plants near the areas of your yard that you frequent. For instance, the point at which you park your car every night would be a good spot, or where you enter your home (at the front door, side door, back, wherever). We often don’t think about these highly used points because we’re distracted by the task of coming home from somewhere or leaving to get somewhere. But these are the places you see the most in your yard and therefore, what grows there, or doesn’t, can make you momentarily happy, or depressed.
As a designer, I always make sure these spaces are well covered in terms of plants that make my clients happy. And I’ve tried to live this philosophy as well. I’ve put an Edgeworthia chrysantha in a container by my patio door (so I can see it in winter through the window and smell it when I step out) and putting a Callicarpa bodinieri ‘Profusion’ on either side of my front door. Its purple berries and purple new foliage cheer me up and draw in visitors.
Of course, you need to take into account whether a plant will be happy in the conditions posed by whatever area you’re addressing. Does it have enough shade or sun? Is it in a frosty patch in winter? Will the dog trample it as it’s running around the corner (as is the case with my Arachniodes simplicor ‘Variegata’)? A few years ago, I transplanted one of my most favorite plants from the back of my yard to a shallow border by my side door and driveway. I love X Fatshedera lizei ‘Annemieke’ for its dark green Fatsia-bred leaves that hold bursts of chartreuse and yellow at their centers. It’s a three-colored, variegated plant! And the glossy foliage stays freshly evergreen all-year-round in the Northwest maritime climate. It grows in a floppy vine-like way (hence the Hedera part) but the branches are stiff enough to prop up. It’s also easily shapeable.
I took a chance with this plant because it doesn’t like afternoon sun much and I have some of that in summer. It does get shade after about 3:30pm. It’s just north of a Drymis winteri ‘Pewter’s Pillar,’ which as that grows, will shade the Fatshedera more and more from the hot afternoon. So far, it’s worked out well. The Fatshedera is happy having the fence to lean against and I’m happy to see it when I walk out my side door every day.