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Border advice

(6 Posts)
easterlywinds Tue 23-Aug-16 07:58:36

My front garden is north facing and has a horse shoe-shaped border which I'm trying to make look decent. I've dug up one side of the border which is probably about 2-3 m long and 80cm wide. This year I have planted a rhododendron, 2 English lavenders (5l pot) and 2 French lavenders (10l pot). These are in a row spread out along the border. I also have another plant that is about 50cm tall with purple flowers tucked behind and between the 2 French lavenders (this was already in the garden). There is also a row of black grass at the front of the border.

My questions are
1) how do I get the lavenders to grow without becoming leggy and dead looking?
2) what else should I put in this border? The lavenders are probably 20-30 cm tall. Should I find some taller things to plant behind the lavenders or just leave them to spread and fill the border.

shovetheholly Tue 23-Aug-16 08:28:49

what is your soil like?

1. Lavender likes sun and well-drained soil, and tends to become leggy and dead-looking in a dark, north-facing site. So my advice would be to move it to your back garden!!

2. Instead of planting in a row, try to bring some depth with some bigger things at the back and smaller things at the front. Some evergreen cover (your rhodo, maybe things like fatsia, sarcococca confusa?) will help it look nice in winter as well.

3. Most north-facing sites don't get much sun - if yours is like this, then check out shade plants. You need to figure out if your soil is well-drained or clay, and to factor in annual rainfall as this will make the difference between dry and wet shade. Different plants like dry compared to wet shade. Thread on shade planting here!

easterlywinds Tue 23-Aug-16 08:43:24

This side of the border is the one that gets sun although you're right in that it's not as much as the back garden. I really want the lavender to greet me as I walk towards the front door. It's also the part near the drive so is drier than the rest of the front garden. I thought I'd give it a year to see how it grows and if it doesn't look good, then move it into pots out the back. However, now I'm concerned if you think this is likely to make it leggy. The soil around the lavenders is kind of sandy whereas it's more clay-like at the other end of the border near the rhododendron. I'm assuming we have slightly acidic soil because camellias, azaleas and rhodedendrons grow very well in the surrounding gardens.

shovetheholly Wed 24-Aug-16 15:36:37

Give it a go. Even if it does get leggy, you can give it a hard chop back when you move it and it will recover.

Maybe look at other plants that are scented and happier in north-facing conditions: things like sarcococca confusa, scented hostas, daphne.

easterlywinds Thu 25-Aug-16 16:42:05

Okay, I love hostas but so do slugs so I don't think they will survive. I will look up the others you suggest too.

shovetheholly Fri 26-Aug-16 10:19:13

I put hostas in pots and it makes a huge difference. Though I went to a garden recently which was incredibly damp (and thus full of slugs), and their hostas were perfect. So I pestered the head gardener on email to find out their secret. They said that the only thing they do is to ensure they aren't under stress, and this keeps them robust enough to get rid of the slugs. I am not sure I entirely believe them - they were so perfect - but I have noticed that hostas that are stressed (e.g. recently transplanted, too dry) come under attack far more quickly.

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