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Need inspiration for beds on a small patio!

ThankthecatThankthecat North DevonPosts: 420
edited April 2018 in Garden design
You came up trumps the other day when I asked for help choosing a tree for my garden and I'm hoping you wonderful, knowledgeable and creative lot can give me some inspiration here! This ugly patio and the raised beds on it were here when we moved in years ago and we are fairly broke so can't afford to replace them. I had the chestnut hurdles put up before the gravy train left the station (divorced my ex-husband!). I just cannot decide what to put in these two raised beds. Last year I divided them all up with some pavers we had laying around and had different herbs in each section, but it looked messy and is really too high maintenance for me now that I have to work (too much time raising annual and biennial herbs from seed each year and weeding empty patches while there's nothing growing). I'd like to keep the lavender and rosemary along the front but it's not essential. Behind each bed is a gap of about a foot between the back wall of the beds and the boundary fence. On one side you can see there is a not-terribly-happy Gloire de Dijon rose and a tangle of jasmine and on the other side a lonicera. I'm going to invest in new trellis for all of these this autumn so hopefully they will provide a more attractive backdrop to whatever I put in the beds. But I cannot decide what to do with those beds! The garden through the gateway is informal and cottagey, that's my style. I really don't do modern or grasses. We use the patio from early spring right through to autumn and it's my view from the living room when I'm working so I'd like it to have interest all year if possible. Something beneficial to wildlife would be a big plus. The beds are both the same size, 10ft long and 4ft deep and they are on soil, rather than on top of patio, so there's plenty of depth. The lifeless looking plant in the grey container by the lavender is a witch hazel I'm growing on - it could be incorporated in one of these beds. (£10 from Thompson and Morgan and it was a freshly-grafted stick!) All suggestions gratefully received :) 

Looking east:

Looking south, down the garden (ignore the hideous hacked leylandii in the background - we have PLANS for that!):

Looking west:

The bed on the west side of the patio. Outside of midsummer, this bed gets shaded by the fence after midday. I've taken cuttings of the rosemary to replace a few dead 'uns down the end. 


  • BorderlineBorderline Posts: 4,675
    Since it is quite a sun trap and keeping with the theme of your rows of Rosemary and Lavenders you want to keep, the borders on each side can be turned into a low maintenance dry garden. I think in small spaces, repetition helps to knit the area together and helps to create a much more stronger identity.

    I think your current set up of partitioned bricks are fussy and high maintenance. Remove them and incorporate grit into your soil and in loose triangle blocks of threes, plant and repeat Nepetas, Alchemilla Mollis and Sedums. If you want to add more vertical height near the back of the borders, you can plant a strip of Perovskia Blue Spire. 

    Your roses are probably not thriving due to the spacing between the wall and soil. They need to be planted a bit more further out to allow water to get down to the roots. Without seeing this area properly, I can't suggest anything more than just feeding it and re-training both that and your Jasmine. Decide whether you need to repair the lattice on the fences or remove completely. 
  • FireFire North LondonPosts: 15,475
    Sounds good. Make as large beds as you can from what you have. Mediterranean plants sounds like a good move - plants that like poor, super-drained soil and lots of sun. I too would think that roses should do really well, with lots of feed and tlc.
  • ThankthecatThankthecat North DevonPosts: 420
    edited April 2018
    Thanks Borderline, I like the sound of that. I have all those plants (except the perovskia) elsewhere in the garden already so it would tie in nicely and I could propagate easily from them to do this for almost zero cost - a win all round! In time I think I might add in some white and night-scented plants for when we use it in the evening but you've given me a starting point, which is what I needed :) As for that poor rose, I think you're right; I stupidly hadn't considered rain shadow. She's going to be lifted in the autumn and replanted elsewhere, where she can hopefully thrive. And Fire - I think a white rose might be one of the things I add. I used to have a garden where they lined the path from the back gate right down to the house and it was magical walking down there at night. 
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