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Help - really struggling with my garden

(36 Posts)
orangesquashh Fri 12-Apr-19 09:19:57

I moved house two years ago to a new place with a large (50ft long) garden. It's south facing but the bottom half is partly shaded by some big trees for several hours a day.

I left the garden for about a year after moving in as I was so busy with other things. Then last summer I went on a clearing mission (as by this time it was fairly overgrown) and am now left with some long, largely empty flowerbeds.

I'm keen to plant them back up again and would love to have a beautiful garden bursting with flowers. The problem is that I just don't know where to start! I randomly bought a large daisy plant from a shop yesterday and stuck it in one of the beds, but it looks a bit sad and out-of-place on its own.

There's also a small (about seven foot tall), dead tree in one of the beds and some bare patches of lawn where builders have trampled the grass. I want to replant these but have no idea how to do this successfully. The fence is also broken in parts and needs replacing.

I think I'm just not very confident when it comes to gardening - I worry I will buy a load of plants and then just kill them all! I just don't know where to begin with it all basically.

Has anyone got any tips?

Jeffjefftyjeff Fri 12-Apr-19 09:27:45

I often feel overwhelmed by my garden and I’ve had it for years! This time of year especially. Don’t be afraid of doing things bit by bit - so If I certain bits can’t be done this year, go easy on yourself. Just sling a carpet or tarp over it or scatter some ‘green manure’ seeds (I use fenugreek but there are flowering mixes too) which will help keeping soil fertile ready for when you have a plan.

For one of my flower beds I got a blues and purple set of plugs from Sarah raven. It worked really well - a number of plugs but only 3 varieties (less than I would have got if buying individually myself) and flowered for ages. I think it was a blue flowering sage, cornflower and verbena Good luck!

6utter6ean Fri 12-Apr-19 09:32:00

maybe just focus on getting one part of the garden looking nice - as Jeff said, get some plug plants and place them around your daisy (protect them from slugs!). Each year (or season) simply gain control of a little bit more of the garden.

orangesquashh Fri 12-Apr-19 09:42:12

Thanks for the replies. I'd love my flowerbeds to look like this - how difficult is that to achieve?

Pegase Fri 12-Apr-19 09:45:56

Depends how much money you have to throw at it- we are entering our 3rd season of working on our garden and still haven't filled the beds!

Roses are good for growing very quickly and filling space.

viccat Fri 12-Apr-19 10:30:19

I had a friend who has a garden design business help me get started with my beds - she planted some perennials for year-round colour and interest to get them started. It's now the 2nd spring after planting and everything looks more established and I've filled more gaps as well. It's been a good way to deal with the overwhelm of empty beds if you can afford it.

For cheaper plants you could look into getting a collection of perennial plug plants, they are very affordable online if you're willing to put the work in to grow them on and look after them.

orangesquashh Fri 12-Apr-19 10:34:32

Thank you @viccat. What perennials do you have in your garden? I'd love to plant some rhododendrons but I've heard they can take over gardens very quickly - is that the case? I also thought a camelia could be nice.

I have some roses but most of them are either still bare or only have a few leaves starting to appear. Is that normal for this time of year? I'm worried I've already killed them!

Pegase Fri 12-Apr-19 12:10:33

Did you plant them bare root? Depends when they were planted- all of mine have leaves at the moment but the new late-planted bare root ones are still small (with leaves). I am in London though where it is obviously relatively warm.

Pegase Fri 12-Apr-19 12:14:38

I believe camelia and rhododendron both need ericaceous soil not normal.

David Austin roses have a 15% sale with code EKA.

We bought cheap impatiens last year and they filled loads of space as annual bedding.

Do you have a local nursery (not B&Q) to get some ideas for perennials?

Also Aldi do cheap plants each week (really cheap) that all seem to survive well. We bought a small acer tree last year from Aldi for around £10 which is absolutely thriving.

florentina1 Fri 12-Apr-19 16:50:37

I had a garden make over recently and found that Wilko are excellent value for plants.

I would plant up quite densely close to the house. If you put two 4 or 5 feet wide and 6 ft tall trellis panels at right angles to the fence on either side of the garden, you will immediately change perspective. Put one about 20 feet from the House and the other about 28 feet. You will need to support the trellis with a strong bamboo cane.

Next dig a trench I front of each trellis about 1 and half metres wide and fill with compost. Does not have to be best quality. Plant a couple of clematis or other climbers to grow up the trellis and the plant annual seeds or bedding plants. Calendula, larkspur, candytuft, cornflowers, , Nasturtium, California poppy or anything that takes your fancy. Wait until early MAy to sow the seeds.

If you are buying plugs or small bedding plants then they can go in once the weather warms up. Marigolds, Calendula,pansies, Bizzie Lizzie Vebena and cheap and very colourful. Usually about £4 per box.

Cover the space in between each group with bark. I prefer circles of the same plant, but you can mix them up any way you want, Now you have a small colourful garden and the part furthest away can wait until next year.

Walk around your local area and see what is growing, anything you like, take a photo. Then either ask on here for the name or take the photo to the garden centre. I also suggest ordering the Parkers, Van Meuwan and T&M catalogues. Garden porn for you to indulge and find what really appeals to you.

Once you are out in the Garden regularly you will see where shrubs and trees need to go.

Beebumble2 Fri 12-Apr-19 17:33:14

Lots of advice above. I would only add to it by suggesting you draw a plan of your garden and plot where the sun travels through the day. You can then put plants in where they get preferred sunlight levels.
Also think about plants and bulbs that will give you interest all year round.

Furries Sat 13-Apr-19 12:46:04

I’m really not green-fingered, but have quite a big garden to maintain. What has worked best for me is finding a good mix of shrubs, with different flowering times, to make up the basic structure of my beds and then mixing in a few perennials with long flowering seasons. Then filling in gaps each year with some annuals to give instant colour.

Another idea is to find some good ground cover plants. I’ve ordered a couple of different geraniums this year and am just waiting for them to be delivered, hopefully I’ll get a carpet of colour and suppress the weeds!!

One of my absolute favourite shrubs is the Photinia - I think the Red Robin is the most commonly-known, but I love the Pink Marble and the Pink Crispy. They’re pretty much bomb proof. I haven’t done ANYTHING with mine apart from a trim once a year. They grow really well and provide some fantastic colour throughout the year.

Doggydoggydoggy Sun 14-Apr-19 11:18:55

Aren’t Rhododendrons poisonous to bees?
I don’t think I’d be planting them...

AnyaJenkins Sun 14-Apr-19 13:43:27

Yes, rhododendrons (and azaleas) are probably not a good choice for bees

Siameasy Sun 14-Apr-19 17:12:19

Don’t be disheartened because gardens in my experience are often a work in progress for quite some time, especially if you’re working or have kids
I would get some shrubs, Rosemary is a tough, fast growing bush. Buddleia (sp) will survive anything but like Rhododendron is invasive. I am going to get a rose this year.

I start all my annuals off in pots because of slugs then I transfer them when they are established

My go-to plant is a Scabious. Mine self-seeded, survived the beast from the east and is slug proof. They come in lots of colours

Doggydoggydoggy Sun 14-Apr-19 17:21:12

My rosemary died sad
Buddleja is one of my favourites and I have scabious too.
Mine succumbed to mildew but I think perhaps I had it in a too damp spot.
I’ve planted some afresh in a totally different location, fingers crossed!

Jacob’s ladder is nice, mine is super hardy and self seeds everywhere.
And Erysium Bowles mauve flowers practically all year and is sweetly scented aswell

orangesquashh Wed 17-Apr-19 17:44:06

Thank you for all the advice! I had no idea that rhododendrons were poisonous to bees - I will cross those off my list.

@Furries I just googled Photinia - thank you for the suggestion, they look lovely.

I hope I haven't planted my big daisies too soon - although the weather does seem to be warming up finally, thank goodness...

KizzyWayfarer Wed 17-Apr-19 22:11:05

Ooh I love a bit of vicarious gardening.
My top recommendation is wallflower Erysimum Bowles mauve - purple flowers Feb-Nov (or all year round in London).
Roses, lavender, geraniums
You could get a few seed packets - California poppies, cornflowers, maybe some taller poppies like this nasturtiums in a pretty colour. Don’t expect them all to do well but seeds are a cheap way of experimenting.
You’ll want to get lots of spring bulbs in in the autumn. I wonder if summer bulbs would be good, they’re not something I have much experience with but I like the look of these Nanus gladioli - not so tall they’d fall over in a bit of wind and you don’t have to dig them up over winter This website and other cheap ones like it has some good bulk-buy offers on sets of plants and bulbs
If you want to fill space quickly, shrubs are good. Ceanothus (Californian lilac) is pretty. Roses as already mentioned. It’s also worth thinking ahead a bit to autumn and winter, my favourites are Japanese anemones for autumn flowers, Pyracantha shrub, with bright red, orange or yellow berries in autumn and winter and a white and green variegated Euonymus.

Doggydoggydoggy Wed 17-Apr-19 22:44:34

Love gladioli!
I have the old fashioned Dame Edna type in red and yellow.
Sometimes they do need staking but I never pull up mine for the winter, leave them in the ground and they spread every year.
They are my favourite!

CurlyhairedAssassin Fri 19-Apr-19 13:22:38

When we were in s similar situation with big gaps in front of a newly planted laurel hedge someone suggested cosmos to fill the space quickly and get some colour over the summer. Was a great call. So easy to look after.

greathat Fri 19-Apr-19 13:34:56

Have a look on the Thompson and Morgan websites. They often have good deals on large amounts of perennials. Do you have lots of spare time? If not I'd look to shrubs. I planted a couple of mahonias last year. Including a really nice soft one. Hebes and heucheras are good too

greathat Fri 19-Apr-19 13:35:34

Oh cosmos and dahlias are really easy to grow from seed too

Unescorted Fri 19-Apr-19 22:44:51

Start with your soil. What is it like - clay, loam (sandy, silty or clay) or clay. Have you done pH tests. Is it damp, dry or waterlogged? What is the aspect, is it sloping? How much sun do you have?

You will have several different things in your garden. Mine is clay, waterlogged clay, sandy loam with rising water table, dry sand ( but improvable), loamy loam ( in a small blissful part), raised beds, and building rubble. All are acidic (except the patches of rubble) and most are sloping.

Once you know what you are working with then go onto RHS plant finder and check what will grow in the conditions you have. There is a reason you have a dead tree... no need to repeat the mistakes of others.

Minkies11 Fri 19-Apr-19 22:52:10

I had the same when starting with my garden - absolutely no clue and large empty terraced beds confused
It's taken me a couple of years of building them up with plants like Euphorbia (my favourite), various Salvias, jakobs ladder (can't remember the posh name), Geums and as many wallflowers as I can cram in blush
It's now bursting with texture, colour and scent! Am not a natural gardent but love it now.

Minkies11 Fri 19-Apr-19 22:54:03

Oh and no lillies or foxgloves as toxic to my pets!

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