We decided to do a big clean up, and then decide how to fill in the holes with a mix of perennials and annuals. Here are the before's:
I didn't like the randomness of this front planter - the stuff under the tree has no structure, and the high plant in the front corner really doesn't do anything for the area. There were also a few plants that could have been weeds for all I knew. We were here last summer and saw everything through the season, so if I couldn't remember loving it and didn't like the look of it currently, it went.
The planter close to the house is a bit of a mess. What was a middle bush (pre-picture) was a disaster to keep under control, and had a number of dead branches (and, as the Mr. found out - a huge root system embedded in the planter!).
So, with a lot of hard work and a couple of trips to a neighbourhood garden store (Bill's Garden Centre on Pape), we made fair progress. Here are the after's:
You can see here, we ripped out the massive plant that was in the front right corner (and actually moved it to a corner in the planter by the house). We put in a number of perennials along the front border, so they will fill out in year or so, and there are 2 hostas on the right side which will fill out in the next couple of years. We transplanted some lily of the valley from our backyard to in front of the tree -- we'll have to see how it holds up, but if I have to replace any I have a LOT more in the back! It also multiplies as years go on, so will fill out (I've learned this is a frustrating part of gardening - that what it looks like now isn't what it will look like next year!).
In this one we got rid of everything in the front planter, and replaced it with a hosta, a couple of white perennials, and then a soft orange/yellow mix of dahlias as annuals. In the back planter, we kept the holly, evergreen bushes, and that random starburst purple flower. We added some lavendar beside the flower, and there is still a gap that I have to fill with some low-ish and green. I want to keep it green up there and keep the colour in the front planter. I don't want to do a hosta because I already have a bunch of them and when they really fill out, I think it would be too much to have an additional one there too. So, it's ALMOST there, once I fill the gap and have patience for everything to fill in we will be all set.