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Help with a border

Dear all,

Could I possibly have some advice on plantings for a border? I have done a lot of work removing a load of overgrown shrubbery in my garden and have since dug a border and replaced the fence with a new one from Grange - I chose this to give it a more achitectural feel. Remaining from the host of rubbish I removed is a cerise rose that I like but its rather sprawly. I also have a few plants that the head gardener at Newnham College gave me - they are the garss like things at the front they have orange flowers.

I would like to put in some nice specimen plants that will look well against the screen of the fence but which are not too much work. I want to enjoy the plantings not be endlessly hacking back jungle!

I just wondered if anyone might have any suggestions of suitable plants? I love Japanese maples but also plants like Scotch Thistles .. sorry its all a big vague..

many sincere thanks for your help, Bron.



  • AuntyRachAuntyRach Posts: 5,099

    Hi Bronwen, Bore da.

    Let us know which way the border faces/ how much sun it receives so we can think about plants most suited.

    I am a massive fan of the Japanese Maple, they prefer a sheltered spot in dappled shade, with good draining soil. 

    Would you consider some climbing plants against the fence? They would look good, give interest at height and leave room for ground cover at the front. 

    I'm there will be plenty of suggestions forthcoming...

    My garden and I live in South Wales. 
  • Aunty Rach! Thnaks so much and yes Bore da to you too ;)

    Righto well the border is facing west so it gets sun for about excatly half the day in the afternoon. The soil here is clay - we are near St Albans. It can be like concrete but I have dug it over a lot to get all those last lot of plants out. I could add something to improve it like manure too I guess?

    I would consider a climber and agree about it adding interest but a) I don't want it to completely take over and b) it would be good if it were something that is intersting and not just the same as all the other climbers you see everyday  ... got any thoughts on that?

    many thanks, Bron.

  • AuntyRachAuntyRach Posts: 5,099

    I am not familiar with gardening in clay soil so others may advise, but digging in plenty of organic matter will help.

    For climbers, the obvious candidates are rose, clematis and honeysuckle, but for something different maybe Ceanothus or Jasmine. A twist could be something evergreen, or with Autumn interest, or something beautifully scented. 

    Hopefully other ideas will be posted...

    Also, go for something that you really like - be it for colour, shape or scent. Browsing gardens, garden centres and the 'net (and books!) are a good start.

    My garden and I live in South Wales. 
  • hogweedhogweed Posts: 4,053

    I agree it is a beautiful fence and would be a shame to hide it. I would consider hebes and roses against it - neither are hard work if you choose your varieties well. There is also a small philadephus which would give you scent when it flowers - Belle Etoile maybe?

    'Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement' - Helen Keller
  • BorderlineBorderline Posts: 4,700

    Cynara Cardunculus, the Cardoon will give you that drama and architectural feel. Grey foliage and the size and height. Since your borders are quite narrow, try to plant diagonal. Think about how you will vew your plants. This allows different forms and heights to be enjoyed sideways and front-on. This means you can plant tall and short next to each other so it looks like you can see through some plants which makes the borders look more abundant.

    How about a rose to add some drama. Rosa Burgundy Ice will positively glow with its two tone grey and very dark mauve flowers. If you like coppery tones, the leatherleaf sedge, Carex Buchananii. Huge thin grass that changes in colour from coppers to greys to almost red in evening sun.

    Last edited: 19 August 2017 19:08:52

  • Dear All,

    Thanks so much for your advice. I have looked at your suggestions which are great. I particularly like the Cynara Cardunculus suggestion and the heatherleaf sedge - both very 'me' suggestions - thank you Borderline. I already have this fuscia rose. It is very striking and although it seems now to be growing prostrate along the ground after its pruning (!) it is still flowering beautifully. If I can get it to adopt a more upright posature again we might be good to go! I also loved from Newnham garden the oriental Poppies - Beuty of Livermere is that it? I also found the red dogwood or  Siberian dogwood and i wondered if that might work up against the fence at some point along its length? Hogweed - thank you, I like hebes too - I like Hebe speciosa ‘Simon Délaux’ and the mock orange looks great too. Borderline - my border at the narrowest part is about three feet and in the rounded out bit in the middle about nine feet. I made a mistake on the other side whn I planted up as things got quite big and crowded out others so I am trying to do more with less on this side. I will try and follow your thoughts on planting, knowing nothing, as I do :)

    Any other guidance always welcome - thnak you for helping me. Bron.


  • Hi - just a quick suggestion for a climber (it's a real mouthful, be warned!) Trachelospermum jasminoides - it's really well-behaved climber that won't take over and sprawl everywhere and looks very elegant trained along wires; it's evergreen, produces jasmine-like flowers over a long period which smell gorgeous, and it loves a west facing wall/fence :o)

    Last edited: 20 August 2017 20:01:44

  • BorderlineBorderline Posts: 4,700

    Three feet at the smallest will be fine, which is why I suggest you try diagonal planting which is groups of threes in a line slanted rather than the traditional three grouped into a triangle. That style of planting is about bold blocks of colours and not always suited to smaller gardens and small borders. The diagonal lines create a staggard feel when you look front-on, and if looking side on, you can see through some taller and shorter plants.

    Consider leaf shape and height. For intstance upright strappy leaves against lobed leaves is a strong contrast. Round dome mounds can sit against a plant that is much taller. At intervals of 2 metres, you can have your shrubs like the Dogwoods, Cardoons and climbers. 

  • Thnks very much - those are all very helpful suggestions - thank you insideoutgardener - I will follow that up. Had a late night whiskey mac and then proceeded to order 100 pounds of plants online - no one warned me that gardening was dangerous!

    Thank you all so much! Bron.

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