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There is no colour in my garden whatsoever - fed up!

(26 Posts)
notagainnellie Mon 25-Jul-16 11:53:50

How hard can it be? I don't know how to check which way it faces but it gets a lot of sun so must be south something, though the borders, where stuff could be planted,don't get the full whack of it as there are trees/shrubs.

There is lilac that seems to spring up everywhere with its boring leaves, and these absolutely huge things in one of the borders that I thought I had had dug up, but they're back - ugly, big floppy leaves, totally overpower anything else I plant down there, come back every year.

I planted a hydrangea (want one of those more than anything ) during the hot spell at the end of May. It seemed fine for a while, then the endless rain started and today I've gone out and it's dead sad. Some herbaceous stuff I planted has also died. I also planted a climbing hydrangea because they don't need trellis apparently (I wouldn't know where to start with that), and while I don't think it's dead yet, it doesn't look good. Both had been attacked by slugs.

I have some bedding plants that have waited patiently in their trays for weeks that I can put out today and a couple of pots, but that's it. Everything else is boring shades of green with leaves that aren't even interesting shapes or anything.

I will plant some bulbs to hopefully get some spring colour, but what else can I do? I don't have the money to spend just for stuff to die, or to buy huge volumes of pots.

Thanks for reading - any advice would be great - so sick of getting serious garden envy everywhere I go - even other people's weeds are prettier than the ones I get!

ConkersDontScareSpiders Mon 25-Jul-16 12:02:14

I think hydrangeas need some sort of alkaline soil or somesuch? Someone else will be along in a minute who knows...
I am rubbish at gardening but I did a few pots this summer to add a bit of colour and grew a lot of sweet peas up a bit of trellis and actually up a few of the boring green shrubs I've looks quite nice.
And someone gave me one of those passion fruit climbing plants which has grown like mad and looks really bright in the middle of the dull green stuff.

ConkersDontScareSpiders Mon 25-Jul-16 12:03:51

My mum said to surround anything you don't want eaten by slugs with broken egg shells-perhaps they can't get over the sharp bits or something? No idea if it works or not.

KittyKrap Mon 25-Jul-16 12:38:02

I know nothing about gardening but we recently moved. I have a tree (?) that's about 2 metres high with beautiful black/purple leaves. These grew berries a couple of months ago that blossomed into pale pink/purple flowers. It's stunning as its so unusual. It's called a Black Lace Elder and from what I've read grows in any aspect, any facing garden. The comments I've had about it are lovely!

JT05 Mon 25-Jul-16 14:00:55

Generally it is a good idea to soak large plants in a bucket of water before planting. They are never watered enough in garden centres. Before planting dig in some plant food, Wilkos own brand is cheap and good. Is the soil in the boarder good or heavy and compacted. It might need a bag of soil improver dug into it.
There is often a lack of colour in herbaceous plants in mid summer, hence bedding plants! Have you tried roses?

notagainnellie Mon 25-Jul-16 14:24:24

Both the passion flower and the black elder look lovely - will look into those definitely. I would love some roses but have the idea that they are incredibly difficult to grow - I should do some research.

I have no idea about the soil - the border has been dug since May but there are very few weeds in it. I don't know if that is significant. It is very hard to dig and very stony so I assume not good quality.

I planted another shrub in May - it has lost its label and I don't remember the name, but it had those purply-blue round flowers that look like liquorice allsorts on it. That looks alive and well and actually has quite nice leaves, but it has finished flowering.

I see the point about bedding plants, but they are so little/low. I need some height!

Bamaluz Mon 25-Jul-16 14:33:46

Buy some colourful pots to put the bedding plants in, that will add colour and height.

Bamaluz Mon 25-Jul-16 15:37:31

Some shrubs with yellow leaves would brighten it up too, Choisya and Eunymous for example. And these two are evergreen and very hardy, I've killed off many a plant, but these are still going strong.

Bamaluz Mon 25-Jul-16 15:38:44

Euonymous that should say, there are different varieties, look for variegated green and yellow leaves.

JT05 Mon 25-Jul-16 17:14:04

It sounds like your soil could do with a boost. It might help to remove any large stones and dig in some compost around the plants. This will help the plants get their roots down through the soil.

Garden centres and DIY stores sell off Growbags quite cheaply at this time of year. A couple of them dug into your soil will help.

Roses are not difficult, but need to be planted with good compost and pruned in the winter. Info on them be found easily on the Internet.

MrsBertBibby Tue 26-Jul-16 06:29:05

Strong recommend for plants that slugs dislike. Antirhinum (snapdragon) are indestructible, as are perennial geraniums (I have a load on a very poor soiled border, although they have finished now. )

Aliums (plant bulbs in autumn) are great.

Fuchsias are going great guns now.

LuckyBitches Mon 15-Aug-16 12:28:27

I feel your pain OP - my garden looks a bit shit at the moment too. I'm moving towards choosing plants based on their foliage since nothing seems to flower for longer than five minutes. I can recommend choosing plants based on their unattractiveness to slugs. I've had success with:

Sambucas (black Elder)
London Pride
Lemon Verbena

MadSprocker Mon 15-Aug-16 17:37:16

Where are you in the country? And is your soil generally stony?

funnyperson Tue 16-Aug-16 01:20:07

Stony soil could mean good drainage so herbs will grow and lavender. If the soil is hard and compacted lemon balm will help break it up and add in some soil improver as suggested upthread
This time of year fuschias, asters, dahlias and japanese anemones and late roses provide colour.
Plant survival is all about watering the plant before hand, digging a large hole, filling with compost and watering in well after planting. There are some variations eg peonies and irises like to be planted shallow and clematis very deep and roses with rhizomatous fungi to get them going.

I posted some photos of a London garden square on the potting shed thread a while ago which had some lovely planting next to a sambuccus

shovetheholly Tue 16-Aug-16 14:09:28

I second what JT said above. Getting the soil right is the no 1 thing to ensure that plants do well. If there are soil issues, and you don't sort them it's a bit like spending a lot of money putting gorgeous £££ wallpaper in a room where the roof is leaking. It will look good for a bit, but when it rains, the work is likely to go to waste!

Sorting out the soil means

- working out what soil you have (clay/sand/chalk) and what pH (cheap kits available in garden centres)
- working out what aspect you have, and whether it's shaded by buildings/trees and for how long in the day -
- improving the soil, so digging in whatever it needs (bound to be tons of compost, but possibly also grit if it's really claggy).
- then figuring out what plants will do well in the conditions you have. There is very little point putting something that likes baking desert conditions in a dark, shady, damp corner - it will probably die. This means a bit of research, a bit of shameless stealing of ideas from neighbours grin

I am holding off on planting anything at the moment. It's so dry that i figure keeping things alive will be an uphill battle - I have things I've been collecting for the last few weeks sitting in trays waiting for the weather to cool and turn rainy.

What you can do now, however, is to plan, and that means making a list to ensure that you have something that gives you interest (flowers or leaf colour) every month of the year. (Literally, write out the months, and then figure out something that flowers in each one!). Avoid the temptation just to go to the garden centre and buy whatever looks nice right now, because the plants are often really expensive, and if they're not right for your own conditions, you will simply be chucking cash away. Once you have a list of things you love, you can swoop in September/October, when it'll be prime time for spring bulb planting, and almost leaffall, which is the ideal time for many larger deciduous trees/shrubs to go in. Next spring, you can fill in with some more hardy perennials, and if you see anything locally that you like, you can add those too!

Hope this post makes sense!

HaveYouSeenHerLately Tue 16-Aug-16 16:20:18

The sun rises in the east and sets in the west. Watch a few gorgeous sunsets using buildings as points of reference and you'll soon work out your aspect smile

How deep are your borders? I had to widen mine. I thought 2ft was adequate but the soil near the fence was bone dry despite the fair amount of rain we were having at the time shock I'm currently at 2.5-3ft wink

I also nearly killed my hydrangea by planting it in the sun (I thought all plants appreciated the sun!) I've moved it to a shadier spot and it's thriving.

Could the unsightly floppy leaved plants be foxgloves? Try and plant a few evergreen shrubs around/ in front to disguise the leaves. The stunning flowers will pop through in the spring flowers Personally I love them and they're great for bees. They're biennials so the plants only last two years (flower the second year) and you get a constant supply of new plants self seeding to continue the cycle. Someone please correct me if I'm wrong!

You could prune some of the trees and shrubs in the autumn to create a bit of structure. I've removed the lower branches on various things to allow sunlight through to smaller plants at the front of the border.

Do you have any photos?

HaveYouSeenHerLately Tue 16-Aug-16 16:23:48

Also keep an eye out for stuff that's growing well in friends and neighbour's gardens smile

funnyperson Tue 16-Aug-16 21:55:25

Just to say petunias are very good colour in pots

Kr1stina Wed 17-Aug-16 07:25:01

Hydrangeas are not killed by rain . Unless you have no draining and they are sitting in a pool of stagnant warren but that sounds unlikely given your soil is stony .

As a beginner you are best to avoid planting anything in not dry weather. They need lots of TLC and minimal root disturbance and sometimes you need to cut off the flowers or some of the leaves so reduce the stress.

So best to plant in normal British weather - cloudy and damp !

Hydrangeas will grow in acid or alkaline soil but it can affect the flower colour . However they like a good rich soil , so that may be why yours died, if it's poor and stony. They also don't like hot sun, as they are woodland plants .

Don't despair, if you like them you can improve your soil, find the right spot and try them . You may need to water them .

However they are quite adaptable - I grow some of mine in full sun, but I love in a cool wet climate so can get away with it . When the are happy they are beautiful and trouble free .

Kr1stina Wed 17-Aug-16 08:04:15

They will grow quickly when they are happy . These are H. BLuebird , planted just under three years ago . They were 5l size , first photos is east facing , second one north facing ( which is why they are in the shade at 7am )

shovetheholly Fri 19-Aug-16 08:46:42

Beautiful kristina.

Kr1stina Fri 19-Aug-16 10:53:49

Thank you holly .

gingeroots Fri 19-Aug-16 11:55:02

I'm wondering if your lilac like floppy leaved thriving plants might be buddleia ?

BengalCatMum Fri 19-Aug-16 17:00:46

I second the 'japanese anemones'. They are my favourite for this time of year and evergreen.

Quick browse round my garden and I will list what is in flower (in the midlands) -
Rudbeckia (going over but holding form)
Echinacea (impossible to grow without perfect loam - lucky DP, and now lucky me grin)
Actea should be but the bloody thing wont flower
Russian sage
Foxgloves (going over but hanging in)

Grasses such as Stipa ichu is looking prime right now and add structure, Calamagrostis, Libertia, pennisetum etc.

BengalCatMum Fri 19-Aug-16 17:19:33

and DP just got home, so can inform the beautiful plant I forgot name off was Agastache

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