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A beautiful year round wilderness that encourages wildlife

hi all

I live in a quarry. That makes me sound like stig of the dump, but it's beautiful. Because of the quarry wall, we don't get as much sunlight as we'd like, don't get me wrong, it's sunny for much of the day, but we planted some fruit trees a while back and they have leant over to a dramatic angle, indicating to me that they would appreciate more light.
It's a large space and as both my wife and I work full time, installing any maintenance heavy plants isn't appropriate. 
Drainage is also a bit of an issue, with some areas of the garden being quite boggy during the wet season (with us being in Yorkshire, the wet season is usually January to December inclusive!)
So, my question is, can you suggest plants suitable for this location that are preferably reasonably priced (it's a big area, almost an acre in total). I have a passion for ivy and ferns, so those are two types I will be planting, but I'm also looking for year round colour, with minimal weeding and pruning. A beautiful year round wilderness that encourages wildlife in a nutshell.

all thoughts welcome



  • hogweedhogweed Posts: 4,053
    Sounds absolutely beautiful. I would go for trees - lots of them to create glades with a mown grass path through them. A mixture of ornamental tree and common trees - bit like an arboretum. Plus rhododendrons. What is on the ground at the moment? Is it grass or shale or? 

    In my fantasy quarry I would get a digger in to create hummocks to give a variety of height and also have a secret waterfall coming down the quarry side into a pool within a tree encircled glade!! Not going to happen I know!

    'Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement' - Helen Keller
  • Hi Hogweed, thanks for responding. Hadn't really thought about trees (probably because we are surrounded by them), but that's a thought. On the ground currently is grass (I hesitate to call it lawn, though we do mow it). The hummocks idea is a nice one, something Charles Jencks-esque with a bit of a twist in the structure?!. Might be a little out of my comfort zone, but...
    I think the waterfall is a lovely idea, but there is nothing to divert locally and I think the bats in the quarry wall might complain about the noise. : )
    Thanks again for your input.
  • FireFire Posts: 18,951
    As I remember, last year quarry gardens were all the rage at Chelsea and other flower shows. If you do a bit of online digging, you should find a slew of articles and pictures about them. Here's one such about Chelsea, but there were others around the country. They favoured wild planting. It might help for choice of plants / the look.
  • fidgetbonesfidgetbones Posts: 17,574
    Boggy areas.... Gunnera manicata and Tetrapanax rex.   Clematis will grow up into the tree canopy.  The montana type and tangutica are ideal.   Large rambling roses such as Rosa filipes Kiftsgate will also love to scramble around.  Buddleja will cope with almost anything. 
  • Fire LilyFire Lily Posts: 296
    edited April 2018
    Stop fighting the damp, work with it instead. Make a wetland, that do attract wildlife just by being a wetland (like frogs, they need all the help they can get). For inspiration, look at gardens like the London Wetlands Centre. 
  • I agree with Fire Lily - make the most of what you have - ferns are ideal, so are hostas, bog type plants like Gunnera and water iris we have found do well too.
  • Mark56Mark56 Posts: 1,653
    Although sometimes disregarded, Purple loosestrife is still a favourite of mine. 
  • FireFire Posts: 18,951
    I imagine you are in alkaline heaven.
  • thank you all very much for the deluge of suggestions, working my way through them and making a list now. Regarding PH, I have no idea, we've only lived here 20 years : ) will buy some litmus paper and find out.
    thanks again everyone
  • fidgetbonesfidgetbones Posts: 17,574
    edited April 2018
    I agree Mark, the bees and other insects love purple loosestrife, easy to grow, hack it down once a year and let it get on with it.
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