Advanced search

Inspiration for secret garden...

(29 Posts)
Mumofasleepthief Tue 23-Apr-19 13:57:40

We have a triangular patch of dead space behind the shed at moment. Think it’s around 5 m long by 2 ish at its widest point, there’s a small bank down to shed and conifers along back. Kids love the idea of a secret garden back there but is poor dry soil with the conifers overhang so just looking for a bit of inspiration.... did have a metal framed hammock up there so was my quite space but it broke at weekend so figure we should maybe do something properly with it. Husband a kids also “helpfully” decided to weed and rake it over (I had scattered wild flower seeds a few weeks ago). Will try and post picture when home.

thislido Tue 23-Apr-19 14:00:18

I have something similar and bought some stuff from these people - filtered by dray shade:

thislido Tue 23-Apr-19 14:00:28


cakeandchampagne Tue 23-Apr-19 15:46:34

Since it is poor dry soil, you could put plants in pots. Most kids enjoy helping with watering.

Twisique Tue 23-Apr-19 18:35:29

Raised beds with good soil in and lots of white flowers that like the shade.

Mumofasleepthief Tue 23-Apr-19 19:29:22


Imicola Wed 24-Apr-19 11:35:02

Does look like it could be tricky to grow much in, but how about building a den? How old are your kids?

Lovemusic33 Wed 24-Apr-19 11:47:32

Looks pretty shaded? I would probably gravel it and put some pots/flowers in it, maybe a climber over the arch, you could but a small table or a bench to sit on? Maybe a mirror on the side of the shed to make the space look bigger?

BiscuitDrama Wed 24-Apr-19 11:52:14

How old are children?

Ours have mini gardens that they plant stuff in, but they also arranged stones and painted shells and have a digging area for mucking about with.

If you trim the lower branches of the trees that will let some light in, so more would grow, but will also reduce how cosy it feels.

You’ve got room to have a den sort of end and a garden end I reckon, which would be nice.

Sunlov Wed 24-Apr-19 11:54:54

Has to be a hot tub

Aethelthryth Wed 24-Apr-19 11:56:25

Plant wild garlic- leaves are useful in the kitchen and it produces masses of pretty white flowers. Seems happy to grow in deep shade and terrible soil

Mumofasleepthief Wed 24-Apr-19 11:58:41

Kids aged between 3 and 9 but already have a den further down the garden.
Was thinking mirror might help with space and oldest is keen on seating as think she wants to escape younger 2 occasionally to read and relax. Did think about wall baskets on shed. The trees are north and can cutback a lot of overhanging branches but is pretty shaded other than mid afternoon when sun over the side open to the field. Daughter keen on planting but not sure will work well. Thinking training a climber along shed may help. Is defiantly our difficult bit of the garden, just feels a bit wasted and unloved at moment, thanks for link some of the plants may work opposite the trees 😀

Lou573 Wed 24-Apr-19 12:03:38

I think the issue is less to do with shade and more that the conifers will suck everything out of the surrounding soil. What about playback down and an area for the kids - mud kitchen, sand table etc?

Lou573 Wed 24-Apr-19 12:03:46

Play bark I mean!

Bluntness100 Wed 24-Apr-19 12:06:38

Whatever you do, don't plant wild garlic, it will take over your garden in no time. It's a nightmare.

I think I'd also gravel it and put some nice pots in, trim the conifers, put a bench in. I'm not sure there is much that it can be used for really.

Bluntness100 Wed 24-Apr-19 12:08:53

The other thing is could you put your shed in there? So freeing up more space in front of the shed and in the main garden bit?

ClaudiaWankleman Wed 24-Apr-19 12:09:42

Are you attached to the conifers? I think they would be my first choice to be got rid of before I did anything more. You’d have beautiful views for 180° if you put in a low fence.

Mumofasleepthief Wed 24-Apr-19 12:23:08

Unfortunately can’t really take out conifers as have horrendous winds and they very much help shelter us a bit. Is a rubbish shape and not square to trees as the shed is more a summerhouse and we have it square to the rest of the garden, plus we had to remain set minimum distances to boundary.
Yep am also concerned about nutrients due to conifers although nettles and some kind of currant bushes seem to have no problems growing there. It was covered In nettles but dh and kids stripped them back at weekend. Further down garden we have old tyres filled with plants round a play frame under another conifer so wondering if raised bed areas suggested with bases may work

TheRhythmlessMan Wed 24-Apr-19 12:38:32

Could you plant it up and incorporate loads of organic matter, compost etc for plants to grow? To make it more like a secret garden I'd be putting lots of climbers (height!) in there. Wild roses? Foxgloves? Things like vinca are good do-ers for ground cover too. Bark chips for path to the seat. Buddleja can grow anywhere.

Look at natural areas in your local area-inspiration for what might grow in these conditions.

HebeMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 24-Apr-19 12:56:35

If soil is poor and it's quite shady I'd do pots as other posters have suggested. Then you can move them around if they need a bit of sun sometimes. I'd make it a little eating or sitting-and-reading area. It's got such a lovely view! Love your shed, too. Please post photos when you've done whatever you decide to do with it!

Mumofasleepthief Wed 24-Apr-19 13:05:23

Buddleja are a good idea, Have a couple of young (self seeded, we have a few in the hedging I planted a few years ago) Buddleja I potted up at the end of last year as they were growing where they weren’t wanted (I hate getting rid of a good plant....) I can use.vinca is a good suggestion although the one I planted elsewhere didn’t do too well but might transplant and see if conditions work better. Love foxgloves and had success with them under another tree but kids aren’t visible when in this area and 3 year old is a bit of a danger to himself even when “supervised” by older 2

Lovemusic33 Wed 24-Apr-19 13:47:52

I have fox gloves, lavender and rhubarb growing in my shady spot down the bottom of the garden, everything else I plant seems to die.

GarethSouthgatesWaistcoat Wed 24-Apr-19 15:41:23

Weed membrane, bark chippings, raised beds with shade tolerant plants and some seating? And a mirror on the shed!

I love my fatsias as they feel nice and jungle-y and are evergreen! They won't like the depleted soil and will eventually hog your raised beds. You could stack 2-3 tyres and fill with decent soil and stick one in there (remember to water). The tyres and/or raised beds can be painted brighter colours.

Do you have a water butt? Could you rig some guttering up to this side of the shed and have a water butt accessible for watering this dry area?

GarethSouthgatesWaistcoat Wed 24-Apr-19 16:08:49

You could paint the arch and gate/side of the shed a seagrass colour (my favourite garden paint shade grin) to brighten it up.

Add a climbing rose to the other side of the arch so you get a mix of honeysuckle and roses smile.
I don't know how much sun it gets but there are some shade tolerant climbing roses available (even for north facing aspects).

I'd gently prune back the conifers so they're bushy on the other side but more clipped on your side. Unfortunately they won't grow back from the exposed twigs on your side but it should open up the area a little without compromising the windbreak hopefully.

If budget isn't an issue I'd get some tall sleeper raised beds in (at least 2 sleepers high) so the plants can benefit from better soil and you can perch on the sides of the beds smile
I was just saying on another thread that Aldi have self watering troughs and planters instore and online at the moment in black/terracotta/dark green. They're plastic but a reasonable size and have a built in shelf to retain water and stop roots getting waterlogged. They're £3-4 each and home delivery is free over £20 on the website. Search 'self watering'. They're a godsend in hot weather and tolerate a bit of neglect!

Do you have a B&M with garden centre nearby? I went in one the other day and they had fatsias for £3.99 or 3 for £10 amongst other evergreen shrubs. Fatsias love shade, are evergreen and are great for impact while you fill in with smaller plants - they won't tolerate poor, dry soil though.

Lavender hates shade so I don't know how a pp is getting it to grow grin

Buddleia thrives in poor soil. I think it prefers sun but seems to tolerate shade. It can run rampant though in the ground!

The water butt would be brill if you can manage it.

Dontsweatthelittlestuff Wed 24-Apr-19 16:17:54

I would just tidy it up, cut back any over hang and then plant some native woodland flowers who won’t care if they are in shade and the soil is poor
Red campion is a prolific self seeder so a couple of plants will be a carpet of them next year.
For inspiration

Maybe a small seating area made by laying a few stabs on a bed of sand with a bench on top to sit on and admire the view and maybe a few solar lights strung through the trees to look pretty early evening.

If you are going to use mirrors please be aware that they can be bad for birds as they don’t relize it is a mirror and could fly into it causing death or at least stunning them. If you must have mirrors please put some stickers on it so the birds can see them and avoid colliding with a plate of glass.

Join the discussion

Registering is free, quick, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Get started »