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Mini forsythias for small gardens & containers

Forsythia 'Show Off Starlet'

Add early spring color in as little as 16" - 36" of space

Everyone seems to enjoy the bright yellow flowers that forsythia bring to the early spring landscape but not everyone has the space for the full sized shrub that can easily reach 8' tall. Now there are miniature and dwarf varieties available! These jewels ranging from 16" - 36" as lovely in containers, mixed in perennial borders or added as accents among broadleaf evergreens and conifers.

Forsythia 'Dwarf Mini Gold'
Dwarf Mini Gold, pictured above, is lovely in a container mixed with herbs and annuals. At only 16" - 24", it's the smallest variety that I've found. Show Off Sugar Baby is a close second at only 18" - 30". Sugar Baby is a Proven Winner so should be easy for do-it-yourselfers to find at nurseries who participate in that program.

The dwarf variety from Proven Winner is Show Off Starlet at 24" - 36". Others in this size range include Arnold's Dwarf, Goldilocks, Gold Tide, Happy Centennial and Golden Peep.

Forsythia 'Show Off Starlet'
Dwarf and mini varieties pack more flowers per branch than old fashioned varieties. Some even hold their flowers for longer periods of time. Most have upright, erect stems rather than arching stems.

Forsythias are tough plants that can be used in any sunny to part sun area of the landscape. They are very forgiving of soil types, help to prevent erosion on hillsides and are even deer resistant!

Looking forward to using these in my designs! Are you ready to add this lovely yellow shrub to your landscape? Then contact me to schedule your Initial Consultation or Garden Walk now!

Danna Cain, ASLA


Transform your holly bushes

virginia highlands landscape home garden design danna cain
These holly trees have been "limbed up" into tree form
plus new, more interesting plants added around
for color, texture and an Italian flair

Morphing a holly hedge into an award winning statement

Here's an idea you can use! When faced with a huge, boring hedge, consider "limbing it up" to morph it into a row of trees. That was our solution when the City of Atlanta arborist would not allow us to remove these Virginia Highland hollies. The raised canopy gave us space and sun to plant the herb and perennial garden that the client desired. This idea won the 2013 Atlanta Home Improvement, Best Before/After Makeover contest in the landscape division.

The hedge was so fat and robust that it was difficult for the owner to keep up with pruning it off of the unique, yet small driveway. The first goal was to give the client more space.

before photo of dense holly hedge
Before photo

holly screening hedge
Before photo

The photo below was taken immediately after pruning the hollies. Yes, that entire hedge was from only 2 plants! Notice how we selected only a few of the best main trunks on each plant. We then shaped and cleaned out the canopy. Strategic limbs were cut back severely so that they would “bush up” to fill in and grow into a more compact form. Drastic reclamation pruning, such as this, should be done in February while the plant is dormant. This timing, just before the flush of new Spring growth, assures that the plant will not be barren for long.

Hollies limbed up
During photo, taken just after pruning the hollies

The next photo shows the holly trees "limbed up" into tree form plus the new, more interesting plantings surrounding the hollies. This client wanted color, texture, herbs and an Italian flair. Notice how we incorporated the Italian cypress that he really wanted for texture. He did not mind seeing the neighbor's house. In fact, he welcomed the more spacious view that this idea presented.

virginia highlands curb appeal home garden design danna cain
After Photo, one year later

Between the hollies, we placed a large Italian Terra Cotta urn as a focal point. This provides color rear round, especially in the winter when the surrounding perennials are dormant.

Italian terra cotta pot with annuals home garden design
Large Italian Terra Pot with annuals

The sunniest place in the yard was at the corner, so this is where we placed the main herb garden. See how the pruning of the hollies, addition of the Italian cypress and the herbs plus perennials have transformed the curb appeal of this Midtown home.
photo before pruning hollies
Before photo
Vir High landscape danna cain
After photo shows how this idea provides better
curb appeal plus space for the herb garden
at the sunny curb

Read more about this project:
Award announcement
Magazine article
Portfolio photo #1 curb appeal
Portfolio photo #2 perennial gardens


Atlanta Home Improvement magazine chooses Hoover project as Best Before/After

HGD wins 1st Place Landscape in Before/After Contest

This contest was sponsored by Atlanta Home Improvement magazine. They asked local professionals to submit before and after photos of renovation projects in categories ranging from interior design to landscape. We won 1st Place in the landscape category for Hoover's front yard makeover in the Virginia Highlands area. We were not only given a lovely plaque .... we were featured on this beautiful 2 page spread in the April 2013 issue of the magazine!

See more about this project!

Magazine article

Atlanta InTown features HGD's Buckhead play garden

Before & After section features the Starr project

This kid friendly back yard design for a Buckhead home was featured in the April 2013 issue of Atlanta Intown. This client wanted an attractive play area that could easily be converted to more garden space when the kid grew older.
Here we leveled the yard and used granite cobble stone edging that complimented the architecture of the house. The large round sandpit will one day become a fountain just off of the rear patio with fireplace. The area where the custom play set sits will be an extension of the shade garden that features hostas and ferns.

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