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Traditional London terrace back garden

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Question from Irene Johnston


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Our daughter and son-in-law have just moved house and the back garden is long and narrow with few existing plants. It's a blank canvas with lots of potential. They have a patio in front of kitchen/living area double doors and a south-west aspect. Any suggestions for good screening plants that don't block out too much light, and also for low shrubs and colourful perennials for a raised bed to go down one side of the garden.

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  • Replies: 5
  • Posted: Fri. 20th March 2009 17:06

Screening and shrubs for a small garden

Reply from Mark Pumphrey

Screening plants that do not cast a heavy shade can be hard to identify but a plant I would suggest could be using a bamboo such as Phyllostachys nigra (black stemmed bamboo). They would provide the height breaking up some of the view beyond with the foliage being light enough to allow light through. They look fantastic up lit and would be very easy to maintain-ideal for first time gardeners and would have a modern look. Shrubs I would suggest for the raised bed could include Pittosporum Tom Thumb which has a very interest leaf changing from green to purple. Lavenders are also a good plant to use in a small garden providing scent as well as colour to the garden. Try to consider the style your daughter and son in law have within the house and design the garden in a corresponding manner reflecting their own taste. In a small garden it is important to use plants that provide many features such as being evergreen but offering flowers and interesting new growth colour-pieris would be ideal and by selecting a dwarf form such as 'Little Heath' it will not become too big. Limit the number of different plants distilling the selection can be difficult but it will provide a sharper look and will be easier to maintain providing the plants are grown in bold groups. Have a look at some of our images on our website and you will see how we have tried to achieve this.

  • Posted: Sat. 21st March 2009 11:31

Irene Johnston

Reply from Irene Johnston

Thank you so much for your advice - it was very useful. I'm glad that one of my own ideas, the Phyllostachys, was on your list! Lavender would be fantastic and I was also thinking of different grasses, geraniums, achillea and some lupins for height. Would an Amelanchier and/or a Prunus be good choices for a small garden? Many thanks again for your help. IJ

  • Posted: Mon. 23rd March 2009 14:15


Reply from Nicola

Hi Irene Thanks for your question for the panel. I am sure Mark would love some feedback on how useful or otherwise this advice was. Do you have time to drop him a quick reply? Also he may be able to answer any other related questions you may have. Does the forum format work for you? Could it be structured any better for you? Cheers Nicola

  • Posted: Mon. 23rd March 2009 12:24

Irene Johnston - London terrace garden

Reply from Irene Johnston

Yes, I have now replied to him and thanked him for his suggestions which I found very useful. I think the forum is an excellent idea and I hope you run many more of them. How about 'theming' the next one, i.e. 'Plants for shade', 'Mediterranean plantings' or 'Low Maintenance plants'. Best wishes, IJ

  • Posted: Mon. 23rd March 2009 14:18


Reply from Nicola

Hi Irene,

Thanks so much for the feedback. It is really helpful to know what works and what doesn't. A theme per session is a great idea and one we will consider as this forum grows over time. At the moment I think we should just ask for any and all questions and then later add some special topics.

Kind regards

  • Posted: Mon. 23rd March 2009 17:15