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Planting suggestions for new bed

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General post from Sarah Ansell


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I am getting our front bed by the drive dug out, a new top layer of soil put in (it's very poor quality clay with stone/rubbly bits), and new planting. Can't do it ourselves, and we hope the person who does it will do a planting scheme, but I would appreciate suggestions.

The plot is backed by a fence, about 1.3m by 6m, ending in a triangle with a beloved cotinus which is staying. It's west facing and gets sun from mid pm. Behind it is a path and strip of trees and the far end especially can be a bit dark. We are at the end of a close which tends to funnel wind and is a frost pocket in the winter.

We need very easy maintenance as I have poor health, although I will probably get someone in to prune. May put in a membrane and mulch to supress weeds. I need all year round interest with colour and some scent. Must be hardy. Wildlife friendly too if possible. With a lot of fence we could do with some climbers, possibly everygreen and probably not roses. There is a path behind the fence so we have to keep climbers under control.

Before this we had some ancient plants: forsythia which we might keep, viburnum (always full of holes), photinia (not v healthy), a wrongly placed buddleja - we might go for another - a sick ceanothus, woody hebe and some ill-advised and rampant cotoneaster!

Any suggestions gratefully received - I'm getting better at plants but hopeless at planning!


  • Views: 1028
  • Replies: 2
  • Posted: Sun. 2nd May 2010 17:27

Planting ideas

Reply from Kathy C

Hi, Sarah,
I am so pleased to read you are keeping your Cotinus - one of my favourites! It sounds like the rest of the existing plants were never happy (or in the case of the Cotoneaster, too happy) where they were. The only other one I would consider keeping is the Forsythia. If much of the old wood is removed, it might just rejuvenate nicely.
Some suggestions for your plot:
In the dark area, perhaps something evergreen with pale or white flowers to brighten that corner. Some choices could be:
- Garrya elliptica - gets large so will fill that space nicely. Pale green cascading flowers are lovely.
- Escallonia 'Iveyi' - one of th few white flowering ones
- Tried and true Rhododendron - little pruning, evergreen and loads of cultivars to choose from
- Viburnus tinus - another 'tried and true'
- Osmanthus - many different species - all evergreen with holly-like leaves on most
- Speaking of holly, perhaps for the front of the bed some Ilex x meserveae - dark leaves, berries if you have a male and female. Maybe plant a group of three?
For the rest of the bed, I picture plants that will take turns blooming/showing interest. Perhaps:
- Hamamelis - not too exciting in summer, but I love the spidery yellow flowers on bare branches in late winter.
- Cornus alba - any of the red-twigged. They will need to be cut back once a year to maintain the red stems, but if you get someone in to prune, they only need to do it once.
- Perovskia - can be treated as a perennial or a shrub.
- Ilex verticillata - deciduous - needs a male and female but gorgeous red berries covering the branches - birds love them!
Climber suggestions:
- Clematis cirrhosa - my number one favourite Clematis - blooms late winter/early spring and evergreen
- Parthenocissus henryana - gorgeous leaves and though deciduous, great autumn colour.

I think I am running out of room but if I come up with more, I will post them. Please let me know what you decide have planted.
Kathy C

  • Posted: Thu. 6th May 2010 15:25

Thank You!

Reply from Sarah Ansell

Hi Kathy, thank you so much for the detailed suggestions which must have taken you a while! There are several plants there I don't know and which I'll enjoy looking up. The hollies are a good idea - I considered them in the back garden, but didn't have a place for them.

I think your selection looks as if it has a really good range of plants for different seasons. Also the plants are very different in shape and form so lots of contrast. It could be a month or so before we are cleared, but I will certainly put up are final planting plan. Sarah

  • Posted: Thu. 6th May 2010 22:43