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Small south facing bed

hello gardeners
Help please! I need ideas
we have a small south facing bed in front of a bay window. It’s 2.80 x 0.90m and in it we have a nice white rose bush, a skimia, a very large hebe , a spindle plant and an aster. The overall effect is not very spectacular. 
I know the hebe has to go but what else can we do? Do you think we have too many different things? 
A worried gardener 


  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 49,198
    Hi Martine - it really depends on the kind of look you like, and want to achieve.
    It's certainly not a very big space, but it might be better to keep a harmonious colour theme, fewer plants, and repeat them. That ties it together. A slightly more formal look, with symmetrical planting, usually looks better in a small bed too. 
    If the rose is thriving, and you like it, why not have one at each end [same variety ]with one evergreen shrub the middle. I doubt the skimmia would do very well in a south facing aspect long term, as they prefer a bit of shade, but if the hebe is an evergreen one [most of them are] you could have that in the middle. When you say spindle, do you mean Eounymous alatus - the spindle tree? That gets quite big, so again, you don't really have enough space for that, along with everything else. 
    That leaves room for some verticals - delphiniums, veronicas, lupins etc, and you can get those in blues, whites, pinks etc which would work with your roses. If you wanted a strong contrast, you could pick tall plants in oranges, strong pinks or purples. Lupins and delphiniums come in strong pinks and purples, alliums and salvias also. For orange colours, kniphofias and geums, or dahlias for later in the year. There are lots of 'daisy type' flowers like Heleniums and Rudbeckias too, which give upright clumps at this time of year.  Your aster would also work, and if you get another the same, you could have those beside the roses or either side of the hebe to give symmetry. 
    For late winter and early spring, there are loads of bulbs, and you can fit those round whichever colour scheme you like. They'll give a display to carry you from later in the year through till spring/summer, and are perfect for planting under the roses and any perennials. There are plenty of groundcover plants too, if you don't want too much bare soil when plants are dormant. 
    Hope that gives you something to think about. Keep it fairly simple, and don't have loads of single plants fighting with each other to catch your attention. Gaps can always be filled with annuals too, while bigger plants are establishing and growing:)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • MartineBMartineB KentPosts: 62
    Thank you Fairygirl for taking the time and trouble to write this long reply. You gave me so many good ideas. I particularly like the idea of keeping the planting symmetrical. 
    Thank you again

  • BorderlineBorderline Posts: 4,687
    edited September 2018
    As mentioned, it is not a large space, so it is best to remove the Skimmia and Hebe shrubs. The good thing is, both shrubs will have kept your soil quite dry and it might be a good idea to go with that idea and plant things that are less fussy with soil types, and especially lacking in water, since it is against your wall, which will probably cause a rain shadow.

    There are many smaller Hebes that help knit together planting schemes that are low to medium heights, so a shrub that has its uses. Lavender and Rosemary are better sub-shrubs for giving form and interest. Nepetas add an informal feel. 

    Think about leaf shape and colour. The more contrasting the better the border will look from far. Iris, Hemerocallis, Sisyrinchiums Striatum and Libertias offer strappy leaves and summer colour. Anthemis Tinctoria, hardy Geraniums and Eryngiums are all easy to care for plants provided the soil is free draining. Around the edges, plants like Erigeron Karvinskianus can offer colour from late spring into autumn.

    For a space like that, it's best to be generous with each plant. Maybe plant three in groups so from far, it gives a stronger statement for each plant and their leaf shape and colour.
  • MartineBMartineB KentPosts: 62
    Thank you Borderline. The hebe and skimmia are definitely going. I have had lavender and rosemary before but just like the hebe they grew too big for my narrow border. 

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