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Suggestions for plants to grow in a narrow gravelled border please

(7 Posts)
Blatherskite Mon 05-Sep-11 11:05:26

Pretty much all the way around our house there is a narrow border between the house and the path/drive/patio of about 15cms that is filled with gravel. We've done loads to the outside of the house this year and our last job has been to dig out the old, brown pea gravel with a view to replacing it with some nice, grey slate-y gravel and possibly a few plants.

In the past, we've had bulbs in the border at the front of the house and they have done really, really well but we've removed them as they got too much and looked really messy. We've tried lavender at the back of the house too but that all died.

I wondered if anyone could suggest something which might do better?

We're not particularly good gardeners so whatever we put in would need to be fairly low maintainence. I've dug down about a foot and removed loads of builders rubble from the border and I'll back fill with top soil but I can't really go any deeper so whatever we plant would also need to be fairly shallow rooted I think. I don't want anything that's going to spread too far either as while I'm looking to soften the edges, I don't want something that's going to take over the path.

The front of the house is my first job and is West facing. The border beside the drive adjoins it and is North facing. I'd like to plant similar things in both beds if possible. At the back of the house, the borders are East and South facing, again I'd like them to be similar planting but not necessarily the same as the front. Something scented would be nice.

I was thinking that given the conditions maybe Heathers would be my best bet? Any suggestions would be wonderful please

trulyscrumptious43 Tue 06-Sep-11 01:38:25

I would always say lavender in these conditions but only on the south facing side of the house.
You'll find that you'll have to use different plants on each side of the house because the light levels and wind conditions will be different.

Try St John's Wort on the north or east facing side www.crocus.co.uk/plants/_/shrubs/hypericum-%C3%97-moserianum-tricolor/itemno.PL00003381/

And hebe on the west side www.crocus.co.uk/plants/_/shrubs/mediterranean-plants/hebe-mrs-winder/itemno.PL020000066/

And what about this for the other side? www.crocus.co.uk/plants/_/perennials/bergenia-cordifolia-/classid.335/

teta Tue 06-Sep-11 19:53:35

There are masses of hollyhocks growing out of dirt in a house near us in a glorious riot of multicolours.Begonia also grows well in these situations.Crocosmia grows well in very difficult soils too.Also have you thought of climbers?.

Blatherskite Tue 06-Sep-11 21:42:41

Lavender I would love but we put both the bunny-eared stuff and Hidcote around the patio before and even the South-facing plants died. They were well watered and I'd dug out and replaced the rubble with top soil so I'm not sure why.

Would Hebe stay small enough for such a small border. We used to have a huge Hebe bush in the front garden that had to be removed because it took over. It was about 6' across. I can only imagine them as huge plants now.

The Elephants ears ones look nice. They'd add some lovely colour.

I'll have a look for the others.

I'd quite like a climber on the drive but for the rest, something lower gorwing would be better as they're for planting under the windows so there's nowhere really for a climber to go

Thank you very much for your advice, I really appreciate it

trulyscrumptious43 Tue 06-Sep-11 22:32:39

Some hebes will grow large but if you get one that has pinguifolia in the name, it has small leaves, and will stay small with yearly clipping after it has flowered. Hebes can take hard pruning.
It is worth remembering that all shrubby plants such as these, lavenders, rosemary, etc only have a tip top shelf life of around seven years before they get leggy, and if you only have a few as accent plants, rather than them being buried in a herbaceous border, they should be replaced every once in a while.
Bunny eared lavenders will always die in the winter as they are not hardy to our climate. Fair makes me curse when I see them being sold as outdoor plants with no warning about how tender they are.

I wonder how good your drainage is if the Hidcote died too? But if you have replaced the bad old soil with some nice stuff and then if you mixed some horticultural grit incorporated into it, Hidcote should thrive on the south facing side. A foot of soil is enough for any small to medium plant to get its roots in.

Potentilla 'Red Ace' is nice and low maintenance.
This good for south side too:
http://www.crocus.co.uk/plants/_/shrubs/ceanothus-thyrsiflorus-var.-repens/classid.727/

I haven't recommended any perennials here as you said you wanted to avoid mess (some cutting back of leaves twice a year mainly) but if you changed your mind you could go for:
Alchemilla mollis
Geranium 'Buxton's Blue'
Hemerocallis
Verbena bonariensis

Or have you thought about grasses?

Blatherskite Tue 06-Sep-11 22:40:10

I've got Hidcote doing really well in the garden borders but it seemed to struggle in the very narrow gravel beds. The soil here is mostly clay so the gravel border should be better you'd think with all the rubble breaking it up.

I don't mind replanting every 7 years but don't want to be doing it every year so I'd prefer something that's not going to die every winter. I can cope with pruning as we're generally out there cutting the hedge 2 or 3 times over the Summer so we could combine the jobs.

I really fancy some flowers but could possibly use some in conjunction with grasses. I'd like to keep the planting quite simple and modern

trulyscrumptious43 Fri 09-Sep-11 18:33:12

Simple and modern...hmm
Try
Carex comans 'Bronze' with Verbena bonariensis and Ophiopogon planiscapus 'Nigrescens'
This is a clumpy bronze coloured grass against tall self supporting purple flowers. The ophiopogon is a black grass, low lying, good all year round.
This verbena has been favourite plant at Chelsea twice I think.
Google images is great for window shopping.
Plant plenty so you aren't forever weeding the gaps.
Your soil should be fine with all of these, in fact a foot of soil with a rubble subsoil is perfect for loads of nice planting plans I can think of!

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