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What should I plant?

(26 Posts)
thenewaveragebear1983 Wed 15-Mar-17 19:41:00

I'm looking for some advice please. We've just had our very over grown garden cleared, and it is being turfed. We've been left with a strip of ground for plants and I was hoping someone more green fingered than me could point me in the right direction.

The garden is Ne facing and the strip of garden is against a fence on the right hand side. I've drawn a diagram!! I'm so useless I can't even tell you what direction the fence is, but i know that the soil gets virtually no sun. There's also a huge pine tree (C on the diagram) The lawn area gets lots of sun and there might be scope for a few shrubs down the sunny side, but I'd really like a few flowering shrubs for this bed. Or failing that, some foliage with coloured leaves or variegated leaves? The soil is good quality apparently (according to gardener who did the lawn!). Also, is it worth using weed control fabric and bark on this area while we're putting plants in? And is it worth throwing some bulbs in while we're doing it or would it be a waste in a shady area?
There's currently a rhododendron planted there that looks pretty new (we only moved in 3 months ago) plus a tree and a conifer. The rest is weeds!

I'd love to be a gardener but I don't know where to start! I've added a photo as well but it's mid-turfing so looks awful, but just to give an idea of the shape/size of the garden.

thenewaveragebear1983 Wed 15-Mar-17 19:47:26

Forgot to add- in the garden centre today the only thing I could find was called Euphorbia. It was a shrub with yellow flowers, but said it was toxic/irritant. It was the only thing I could find that specified shady areas but the toxic warning put me off!

MrsBertBibby Wed 15-Mar-17 20:01:03

While you wait for better gardeners than me, can I point you at the shady characters thread, which is full of shade loving plants.

isambardo Wed 15-Mar-17 20:01:53

It does depend on just how shady it is, does it ever get any Sun? And is it quite wet or dry? There are lots of pretty plants that are good in shade, try helebore, hosta, ferns, Japanese anemone (lovely and v easy to grow). Snowdrops and snakeshead fritilliary are good bulbs for shade. Use Google or pinterest to get ideas of what plants and colours you like. I think of the garden as another room, if I don't like it or I get bored, I redecorate and change the plants. Don't waste space on plants you don't love, just dig them out and try something else.

Liara Wed 15-Mar-17 20:06:22

Ferns and periwinkles would do fine. Make sure the periwinkles are vinca minor, vinca major is very invasive.

White flowers generally show up well in the shade. For this year, until other things get established, you could put a whole load of white busy lizzies in the gaps among the plants that will grow larger (like the rhodedendron).

thenewaveragebear1983 Wed 15-Mar-17 20:16:44

Thank you! I've just found the shady characters thread too smile

It's shady in the area, but as its a large garden it's still relatively bright if that makes sense?

I'm going to read the shady thread and jot down a few ideas, then maybe try a few. There's probably only room for 3 full size shrubs, although there is a trellis we were going to remove but I have read that clematis might grow there?

BarchesterFlowers Wed 15-Mar-17 20:25:24

I am sure other places must do the same - Waitrose have some nice border ideas -

Liara Wed 15-Mar-17 20:27:28

Don't remove the trellis, there are several clematis and even some roses which do well in shade.

Also when they reach the top of the trellis they will have sun, presumably?

thenewaveragebear1983 Wed 15-Mar-17 20:34:20

Liara yes in theory, although we have a huge pine tree which does shade that part of the garden, plus next door also have one, and a eucalyptus- so the bottom right hand corner of our garden is very shady. I suppose we could move the trellis to a different fence panel though?

AstrantiaMajor Wed 15-Mar-17 20:59:39

I think you may be starting from the wrong point. First find out about the soil. Soil at the boundary fence is dry, add in conifers and eucalyptus and you are probably looking at desert conditions. I would not try to change this as it will be a never ending, expensive, hard job. So research plants for dry shade.

Next step is decide how you want your whole border to look. A continuous colour, same plants all along, same height? Or a variety of colour shape and form. Look on Pinterest and put in Landscaping with dry shade. Screen shot everything you like. This will give you a starting point

There is so much stuff on the web and it can be overwhelming. Gardening can be very expensive and you seem to have a very long border. So choose your overall style,height and colours before you buy any plants.

Once you have done that you will find the whole process much simpler. For individual choices, put in the name of the plant, rolled by RHS. Ithis site will give you a photo, conditions required, height, spread and also suppliers.

AstrantiaMajor Wed 15-Mar-17 21:01:11

Followed by RHS. I mean

shovetheholly Thu 16-Mar-17 08:17:09

I agree with Astrantia, the first step is to work out whether the soil is clay or sand and if it is wet or dry as this will really influence what you can grow. Get a handful of soil and squeeze it to see if it sticks together, if it does it's probably clay. If not, it may be sandy or chalky.

Also, tell us roughly where you are, because coastal conditions or hot conditions are really different from wet, damp places even in the UK!

Basic, tough shrubs that I think will probably do well: fatsia, guelder rose, mahonia caress, shade-tolerant viburnums (tinus for instance).

shovetheholly Thu 16-Mar-17 08:18:36

PS for a beginner, you seem to have a really good "sense" for your space. You're asking all the right questions. I sense there is DEFINITELY a gardener in there!! You can totally do this. smile

thenewaveragebear1983 Thu 16-Mar-17 09:13:07

Aw thanks shove!
We're in the Midlands. The soil is quite 'sticky' so that could mean clay then? Also I read on the shady thread that pine dropping on the soil can do something to it to make it acidic?

I'm going out browsing today. I really like the idea of some hydrangeas as we had loads in our garden when I was growing up.

The patch is very unloved at the moment so will be a while til I'm ready to plant, but I really appreciate your advice- please keep the tips coming!

thenewaveragebear1983 Thu 16-Mar-17 09:19:12

Here is the bed in the cold light of day! As you can see, the weeds are thriving. There's a couple of small trees, a pink flowered shrub that's gone a bit 'leggy' plus a conifer at the house end and the giant pine at the other end.

shovetheholly Thu 16-Mar-17 09:20:13

Yep, if it's sticky I reckon you're on that fairly heavy red clay soil that you see in the Midlands! I would guess, if it's clay and shaded, it's probably quite water-retentive (unless there are major tree roots close by). The exception may be under your pine tree, which is likely to be dry shade because of the canopy.

The main thing with soil like that is that when you turn it with a spade, it will form clods. To get these to break up, you need to add grit and organic matter and gypsum. smile

It's a lovely space and I'm sure it'll be amazing. My main piece of advice would be to think carefully about your structure before getting things in. There's a temptation to jump in with planting at an early date, but getting the main bones of the garden right first will pay dividends in the long run!

thenewaveragebear1983 Thu 16-Mar-17 09:21:35

Yep- we're in redditch, so named for its thick red soil. You're good!

shovetheholly Thu 16-Mar-17 09:29:13

From what I can see, your soil looks really good! smile Judging by the two pictures, it's quite a big garden - bigger than I first realised! Working out how you travel through the space in a way that is aesthetically pleasing but also convenient is going to be important. Maybe think about some beds that don't put everything tall to the edges, so that you have some taller things more towards the middle, and a path that moves around them - the idea being to get glimpses of the whole garden from the house, but to leave some areas to be revealed as you wander down!

thenewaveragebear1983 Thu 16-Mar-17 09:50:10

Yes it's quite big. The lawn area is 16x 14 yards give or take (that's how much turf we ordered!) and this bed is almost the full length but not very wide (probably 2m at its widest and less than 1 at its narrowest. Currently the only path is the curved path along the side of the lawn, however it doesn't go all the way to the end as it went to some decking which was rotten. I love the idea of a bit of mystery, and guiding through the garden.

If nothing else, I'm really excited about this project and planning it all.

shovetheholly Thu 16-Mar-17 09:57:10

I quite like the line that the curved path starts off. Wonder if you could extend it into some kind of spiral?

thenewaveragebear1983 Thu 16-Mar-17 10:05:10

The only issue with that is dh wants lawn football pitch for promising talent so he won't want pathway through the centre. There is scope to extend the path down to the summer house and also down further to the shed and I think we'll have to as otherwise the grass will just wear in that pathway anyway.

OrangeFluff Thu 16-Mar-17 13:51:59

Hi, I live in a town near to Redditch, and have the same sort of clay soil. My garden faces west, so the left side only gets a bit of sun in the evening. The shrubs that are doing well are a skimmia, some hydrangeas, a rhododendron and a spring flowering camelia.

I also have a clematis montana growing across the fence and into a lilac tree. Both are covered in buds and doing really well (I can't wait until they flower together soon!) The other climbers that have done well is my late flowering honeysuckle, and an alpine clematis 'Frankie'.

There are loads of plants that do well in shadey clay. I like to use as a guide- you can put exact conditions, colours, flowering times etc into the search, and it wll give you lots of choices. Then I buy the plants from elsewhere as Crocus can be quite pricey!

thenewaveragebear1983 Thu 16-Mar-17 14:42:47

Thanks orange that's really helpful. I will look at that website.

To be honest, I'm finding it all a bit overwhelming! The websites seem to assume a certain degree of knowledge (and I have virtually none!)
Someone in one of the garden centres suggested today that perhaps we do a sort of tiered effect, as the garden slopes downwards which would have the added benefit of meaning I do it in stages, one tier at a time as time and money allows! But I don't know. It all seems a bit complicated! I'm currently doing lots of pinteresting but it's a scary world on there and all looks a bit beyond my capabilities. It will definitely take us a while to clear it all out and get the ground ready anyway.

On the plus side, I think my gardeners will be finished turfing today! We have a lawn!! I've ordered some fence panels as well to repair the damage done by Doris a few weeks ago.

AstrantiaMajor Thu 16-Mar-17 15:11:03

it is overwhelming to do a whole garden even for experienced gardeners. One thing that will happen now the lawn is down is you can see the border from different angles. Try and sit in different parts of the garden and think about what you would hate to see. Sometimes it is easier to start from what you do not like,rather than what you do.

If there is one point on the lawn, where you think you would enjoy sitting, then plan what is going to be in yours direct line of sight. I think starting with a small area is a good way to begin.

traviata Fri 17-Mar-17 09:09:40

How brave do you want to be?

If this were my garden, I would get rid of the conifer and replace it with a different tree. The conifer is a big dark lump of shade that dries out the soil and makes it acidic, as you have said. It is not, to my eyes, very attractive. You could have something really beautiful there - a robinia, a sorbus cashmiriana, an acer, a fruit tree, a birch tree.

However, privacy is usually important, and a new tree would take some time to establish. It never seems to be the right time to remove a tree. There is an old saying - 'the best time to plant a tree was 10 years ago'. If this is a house where you will be staying, I think it would be very much worth considering.

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