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North facing walled garden issues!

(7 Posts)
AnnetteTwitcher Wed 10-Aug-11 06:32:02

Hi all
I've got a northfacing walled and decked garden (victorian London terrace) with sml Borders all the way round.

When we bought the house nothing was planted so I had fab blank canvas to start with. 18 months in and I've got some real disasters on my hands and also some spots that I just want to improve on- any advice would be most welcome!

Generally the light levels are good and on sunny days it's absolutely baking out there..

Crocosmia : going spotty brown and just not done much, still alive so worth digging up and maybe trialling in a pot/sunnier spot?

David Austin 'summer song' x 2 both spindly, hardly any foliage, only 1 has flowered but stems still green.

In general I wonder whether small Borders next to brick Walls are just a big no no for anything requiring any level of TLC as I also have a lot of mildew on honeysuckle/clematis and 2 ramblers. Have tried spraying and am fairly diligent waterer!

Any advice on some good sturdy plants for dry/shade/ etc would be great. I also have toddler and newborn so not nearly as much time as I'd like for my beloved garden sad

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 10-Aug-11 22:49:11

Sounds like the air circulation isn't that good if you're getting mildew. Is there any way you could open up the garden to improve that? Would suggest the 'woody mediterranean' route for tough, drought tolerant plants.... lavender, rosemary, echinops, cistus, hebe... and flowering shrubs like potentilla, escallonia, quince (chaenomeles), buddleia that don't mind relatively poor soils and dry conditions. Alpines can cope with extreme conditions so things like saxifrage, cranesbill and sedum could work. I have crocosmia growing in a dry semi-shaded spot so I'm not sure what's wrong there. For the rose, it may benefit from being pruned back in the autumn and sprayed against mildew from an early stage. Good luck

AnnetteTwitcher Thu 11-Aug-11 04:24:09

Air circulation! I didn't think of that but it actually makes a lot of sense as it such a baking sun trap out there in summer months and I've lost quite a few of my more cottagey style plants but the lavenders/rosemary/cranesbills love it!

Your planting suggestions are great, I've wanted a cistus for a while and love the colour of the echinops, which I wasn't familiar with.

Thanks v much for giving me a new plant buying opportunity grin

BeeBopBunny Sat 13-Aug-11 11:24:27

Bad air circulation and not enough water, I would say. Walls cast a rain shadow - if you plant too close to a wall they will get very little moisture. However, a sunny spot by a wall is a fanastic place for planting things that benefit frm a bit of shelter. If you have the time to water, you could try training a fruit tree up the wall in the shape of a fan. An apricot or even a peach might do well if it is sheltered there. Or a fig.

Ponders Sat 13-Aug-11 11:31:22

I have a clematis montana in a large pot in a sheltered NE corner & it does incredibly well, considering - it's been there for years & comes out fighting every spring. I've also had mildew & other problems with the ordinary clematis but nothing at all with the montana.

Ponders Sat 13-Aug-11 11:35:27

how is the quality of the soil in the small borders? how deep is the good stuff? London soil tends to clay iirc - would it be worth digging in loads of new compost & topsoil?

AnnetteTwitcher Mon 15-Aug-11 05:31:04

Thanks for your replies!
Have wondered about the quality of the soil before - mainly because when we moved in the borders were empty and I couldn't understand why not chock full of weeds!

some things do really well and others just die eg hardy geraniums love it, delphiniums have been great, likewise euphorbia. Foxgloves, hellebores, crocosmia: dead. Rambling rose, clematis, honeysuckle all really mildewy, spindly and sparse foliage.
Hydrangeas and garden roses are not as bad but not loaded with flowers.

It's one border in particular (the hottest/sunniest one) that is doing so badly, I really should dig in a load of new topsoil and manure, cut everything back and give it all 1 last chance next year before starting again with much hardier plants as per the v excellent earlier suggestions.

It's probably as much about the lack of time I have to look after it as anything else sad

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