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I've built low, 2 to 2.5 foot brick retaining walls running east to west in my backyard. The walls face north. I'm looking to plant in a narrow strip atop these walls some "spiller" plants which will enthusiastically droop over the walls despite their north-facing nature.
Ideally, I'd like mostly evergreen plants which would fill in fairly quickly, though I'm willing to plant a variety and carve out space for the slower growing plants as needed. There's great drainage since I have gravel reservoirs behind each wall, and the part of the plant above the wall will get part to full sun, though I could overplant them if necessary for a plant that couldn't handle full sun.
My biggest priorities are to have evergreen plants with interesting foliage and form. I'm really looking to soften the look of these grey brick walls, and so would prefer a furry look to a spiny one. Flowers and fragrance are less important though always nice, and I'm hoping to have at least 2 or 3 different plant types with different colored foliage (shades of green are fine).
Some of the plants that occur to me, based on the description of your site, are Brunnera macrophylla, Epimedium, Geranium phaeum, Stachys byzantina, Lamium maculatum, and Liriope. Of these, the Geranium and Lamium will trail somewhat, while the others are essentially upright.
You could also try entering your site requirements into the plant-finding and plant selection web pages below:
The Miller Library has many books on gardening in the shade, so you may wish to come in and do some research to help you in your plant selection. Here is a booklist that may be of interest.
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April 19 2012 16:02:30