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How can I use a huge flower bed and design the space ?

(8 Posts)
Tobermory Sat 12-Mar-16 20:58:46

My garden needs a lot of work! One part of it is a huge flower bed - 40ft by 8ft which is a mess and I have no idea how to deal with it.

The back garden is sloped down towards the back door - you have to go down steps in order to get from the garden to the back door. The flower bed runs along the width of the house and is higher than the ground floor of the house. I know it's complicated but thought it was relevant in terms of height if plants.

So this bed is a mess. I partially cleared it last year but now it's a mass of weeds and it looks nothing from a distance. I kind of think that I should use bold planting or structure the planting but I've no idea how. I very much like the English cottage garden look, but it's a Victorian house so...

Any one have any ideas of where I can look for ideas or inspiration?

Parietal Sat 12-Mar-16 21:16:13

buy a few garden magazines and look at the pictures. has lots of nice pictures / layouts too but is pretty expensive - you can use it for ideas and then buy locally.

the RHS website is very good if you are looking for a plant for a particular place. you can enter 'north facing, part shade, 0.5m tall' and it will give you a list of all the plants that meet those criteria.

stayathomegardener Sat 12-Mar-16 21:19:12

What area do you live in/ What is your soil type?
Commitment timewise to maintence and skill level?

Tobermory Sat 12-Mar-16 21:27:04

I've spent quite a lot of time on Pinterest , but thank you parietal for those links I'll have a look.

Stayathome - I'm in Yorkshire, soil is quite clay and can be very wet. The drainage isn't brilliant.
Time wise, I work ft so it would be a weekend and the odd sunny summer evening when I don't have any marking hmm . I like gardening, grow stuff from seed and what I don't know I can research and DH is good at hands on, so he could do structural, bricks etc.

I need a plan and if I can figure out what we should do with this massive space and how it can be divided up then I could get on with it gradually. But I just can't imagine what it could look like and what the possibilities are.

stayathomegardener Sat 12-Mar-16 22:04:04

OK so 40 x 8 feet is far too large with the amount of time you could commit to it to be maintaining a traditional herbaceous border/ cottage garden as beautiful as they are. (horribly bare out of season too)
I would recommend a basic shrub structure including a fair proportion of evergreens as the area is clearly key visually from the house and use herbaceous perennials/cottage garden plants within that structure to lift the scheme, seasonal bulbs and scented plants would also be fantastic as so close to the house.

Which way does the border face?
Is it shaded by the house during the day?

You sound keen and hands on so half the battle is won smile

Tobermory Sat 12-Mar-16 22:39:48

DH fancies using box hedging to create structure within the flower bed... Like this but less ornate.
But I worry that that is so very formal when really what I want is...

Tobermory Sat 12-Mar-16 22:42:10

It's South facing and no shade during the day so in the summer lots of sun and the soil gets quite dry, whereas now it's very soggy.

Thank you by the way for you're ideas and thoughts, it's much appreciated!

shovetheholly Mon 14-Mar-16 08:35:20

Don't go for the box/carpet bedding if you are pushed for time - box needs a lot of very time-consuming and careful maintenance, and carpet bedding is labour-intensive and very water-intensive too. I watch gardeners tending carpet bedding while I write in the university library, and they are there for hours and hours every week.

I would give the same advice to you as to someone starting an allotment: chunk it up, and put in a lot of time at the start - once you get a garden going it is much easier to maintain in the longer term. Being stuck in the preliminary stages, however, is like wading through treacle! If you can rope in some help from your DH, there's no reason why you couldn't easily be on top of the whole border inside a month, if you both put in a long morning each weekend.

Divide the bed into sections and work on one at a time. If the ground is currently empty in other areas, cover with weed-sheeting so you don't have to keep weeding the same area over and over again (this is exhausting and demoralising). It will look terrible for a bit, but better than than weeds.

Start by sorting out the problems you have with the soil - add absolutely LOADS of cheap compost (and I mean to the depth of 3-4 inches over the soil, which is bags and bags), and quite a few bags horticultural grit. If you want to get going straight away, you need to dig this all in. If not, you can leave it sitting there and let the worms do it for you. However, because spring is such a great planting season, and you're running out of time to get things like trees in before bud break, I'd get on with it and dig! grin (I'm in Sheffield, btw, so I understand fully the problems of heavy clay and lots of rain!!)

Choose a colour scheme, and make a planting plan ensuring that you have something interesting every month of the year. Think about higher things (shrubs, trees) for the back then medium sized things, then lower things. You can get help here from magazines, which feature them for free, or even places like Crocus who sell border packs. Bear in mind that you need something that suits the aspect and soil that you have - there is absolutely no point putting sun-loving plants in deep shade, as they will die.

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