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Would anybody enjoy helping me plan a border?

(41 Posts)
bigbadbarry Tue 05-Jan-16 13:31:51

We've got a long straight strip next to the drive - just over a metre wide and about 9 metres long. It was very old and tired so I completely dug it out in the autumn - all I saved was a couple of oriental poppies (one plum, one bright orange/red) and I see there are some random bulbs coming up now that look like crocuses and hyacinths. I had thought to plant lots of bulbs but then I decided that would make spring planting difficult, so just manured it and let it sit. Now I need to decide what to put back in! It needs to be fairly low maintenance, being at the front, but I definitely want flowers and interest not a shrubbery. I have one beautiful rose ready to go in - can't remember its name without going to look but it is white with red stripes. Other than that...anything!
It is fairly clay-y and quite heavy; there is a privet hedge along the back that is about a foot high and a tall beech on the front (short) but otherwise it isn't shaded. What do you reckon?
Or failing brilliant border plans, has anybody seen anything beautiful online?

Freeriver Tue 05-Jan-16 16:00:55

Would you know the orientation of this border? Do you like cottagey style plants ?
Is the privet very close to this border (privets take a lot of nutrients and moisture from the soil)
Masses of choice depending on your taste really.
Sounds like a lovely project - an empty border - lucky you.

bigbadbarry Tue 05-Jan-16 17:18:33

The privet is effectively the back of the border. Actually I should have a proper look - I guessed privet but it seems quite low! Will check when I get home later. Something hedgey anyway.
It runs sort of NE-SW with the beech hedge on the short SW end and the (low) hedge along the southern side.
Yes I like cottage plants.

Freeriver Tue 05-Jan-16 18:19:29

Do you brush past this border when you get out of your car?
I ask because prickly plants and wet evergreens are horrid if you have no choice but to get near them.
A bonus if you have a wide drive smile

bigbadbarry Tue 05-Jan-16 18:29:06

No, there is plenty of space. I'm not really wanting lots of evergreens because we have them on the other side of the drive - holly, various hated conifers, a witch hazel, some roses, a dog wood.

Freeriver Tue 05-Jan-16 19:02:05

Do you mind if I just list some flowering plants that will do OK in clay-like soil?

Up to you to choose, it's your garden, but texture and season can be -sort of - important if you want something to look at throughout the year, and how different plants can complement each other.
A bit of dead heading and/or cutting back out of season might be necessary though.

Conifers (some are OK) and heathers (ugh) are things that need no attention, but I feel you are not keen?

You have a witch hazel, lucky you.

bigbadbarry Tue 05-Jan-16 19:16:59

I love plants buy too many though, and am reasonably good at identifying them - happy to look at my back garden and the neighbours to see what does ok. But really grateful for extra suggestions!
I enjoy gardening so a bit of pottering is fine, (I just prefer to do that out the back rather than next to the road). What I am bad at is putting the plants together so they look like a lovely border rather than plonked-together plants.

bigbadbarry Tue 05-Jan-16 19:18:23

Not keen on conifers, heathers, or hebes. One of the things I removed was a monstrous red flaxy thing that was just vile, and a million Michaelmas daisies. I have cats so don't grow lilies even though I adore them.

Allalonenow Tue 05-Jan-16 19:21:17

Some thing you might like is to grow climbing plants up through the privet hedge, honeysuckle, clematis, climbing roses. Adds some colour and interest to the hedge, and not difficult to do.

bigbadbarry Tue 05-Jan-16 19:24:57

That sounds like a nice idea. Hedge is only about a foot tall though - would it work?

MairzyDoats Tue 05-Jan-16 19:30:04

If space on the drive isn't an issue can I suggest Nepeta Six Hills Giant? It sits well at the middle/front of a border, flowers for months and looks great with pretty much everything, plus bees adore it.

MairzyDoats Tue 05-Jan-16 19:34:55

Also lady's mantle, geranium Rozanne and Salvia Mai Nacht (I think that's how it's spelt, (unless you suffer from slugs, bastard love it)

bigbadbarry Tue 05-Jan-16 19:36:41

Lovely, keep them coming! We don't suffer from slugs in the back garden much - pond is full of frogs. I don't know whether they get round to the front or not!

bigbadbarry Tue 05-Jan-16 19:37:11

Any brilliant suggestions how to stop it looking like I've run round the garden centre with a trolley them bungled them all in the ground at random?

funnyperson Tue 05-Jan-16 19:40:45

PurpleWithRed Tue 05-Jan-16 19:42:41

Here's a random assortment of stuff I like that grows on my rather clay-ish soil (sorry, never got a nepeta to survive more than a season). Persicaria, especially the red one (fire tail?) which the bees absolutely love, geranium psilostemon, veronicastrum (any), veronica (more bee happiness), lots more roses, stipa gigantea, i'd put in some obelisk things and have clematis or sweet peas over them, some dahlias (anything from Sarah Raven all ravishing), knautia macedonica, heleniums. NB that was not a design suggestion - it would look a bit of a pigs ear to have all that lot together. If I had a long narrowish strip I'd have quite a bit of repetition along the way. Oh and I'd plonk in a couple of daphne/philadelphus along the way for scent.

Alternatively I'd dig it out, add loads of grit/gravel, and plant daffodils all the way down with nepeta over the top - saw that at West Green House, it looked fantastic. Nepeta like reasonable drainage and a bit of chalk apparently.

bigbadbarry Tue 05-Jan-16 19:58:57

I have quite a collection of sarah Raven dahlias already! Quite happy to put them at the front instead of the back next year.

bigbadbarry Tue 05-Jan-16 19:59:36

Oh that collections link is helpful, thanks funnypeople

Snarklepoo Tue 05-Jan-16 20:02:14

Don't be afraid to experiment by laying plants out in pots and living with them for a while before planting if you can do this without things going walkabout.

If it's a long border, think about creating rhythm by repeating a favourite plant ( thinking tall delphiniums, maybe robust grasses or a favourite daisy or perhaps a formally clipped evergreen) along the length of the border.

Think about using larger numbers of the same type of plant to create drifts of colour and form to make it look a bit less like you've ramraided the garden centre! You can buy liners from wholesale nurseries online, allowing you to plant smaller plants at greater densities, or think about buying larger specimens at the garden centre and making your own divisions. This works well with lots of herbaceous plants such as the geraniums suggested upthread. Don't be too afraid of pulling things apart- so long as it's got roots and you reduce really long foliage on top, most things will come away just fine.

Perhaps you could also think about using a restricted colour palette which can look very stylish and contemporary and then enjoy the challenge of finding plants to give interest in your chosen colour scheme throughout the year?

Grasses and plants which make architectural seedheads can help give structure through the winter, as can plants like dogwoods which can be coppiced to give coloured stems.

When I was designing planting schemes for a garden car park last year, I found it really helpful to make rough (and I mean rough) sketches with coloured pencils to help visualise how things would look all together before committing to buying plants.

Have fun with it!

bigbadbarry Tue 05-Jan-16 20:25:01

That is precisely my problem snarkle, I see all these fabulous plants and want one of everything and it looks ridiculous! Need reining in and encouraging to do repetitions. A colour scheme is a lovely idea.
What do you mean by liners?

Snarklepoo Tue 05-Jan-16 20:56:27

Liners are plants grown in cell trays by wholesale nurseries for sale to growers and retail nurseries who 'finish' the plants on their own premises. They are frequently used by nurseries who do not have their own propagation facilities or would find in house production uneconomical.

Many nurseries producing these offer a surplus list of plants available for sale provided you order a minimum quantity.

Provided you're not trying to do this in the far north of Scotland, you should be OK to plant 7-9cm liners (look for 18 plants to the tray) once the soil has warmed up in spring.

Many nurseries will deal with members of the public online or through open days.

Kernock Park Plants have an amazing website and online surplus list to look at for inspiration. Try nurseries local to you as well- you may be able to negotiate discounts for buying more than a few trays at a time.

I don't represent this company in any way!

bigbadbarry Tue 05-Jan-16 20:58:14

Thank you!

Allalonenow Tue 05-Jan-16 21:16:09

Yes, I agree with you that it wouldn't be very effective having climbers through a hedge only a foot high. But another thought I've had about the privet is to let it flower, much loved by bees, and only cut it later in the season.

Perhaps a border of HOT colours would work there? Thinking of the oriental poppies you already have, and using only reds oranges and yellows, perhaps hollyhocks at the back for height, two or three groups rather than a row?
If you limit yourself to plants in that colour group, it will help you avoid the "run riot in the garden centre" look.

bigbadbarry Tue 05-Jan-16 21:21:53

Sadly it is not my hedge and the old chap next door has very efficient garden helpers. Nice idea though - I do have some flowering privet in my back garden and the smell takes me right back to primary school!
Hot colours would work for me. Can I add purple? <runs riot again>. Will my mostly white rose look horrible with it? I can always squeeze that somewhere else.
I love hollyhocks but will they blow over if they are not sheltered by something?

bookbook Tue 05-Jan-16 22:46:25

I love hardy fuchsias - Mrs Popple is a favourite of mine
how about ground cover as well for reduced weeding? - things along the line of saponaria oxymoides, campanula , low spreading geraniums, spotted deadnettle, cyclamen for winter interest.

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