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What to plant in a narrow, tall trough

Spartan7Spartan7 Posts: 16
edited September 2018 in Plants
Hi all,

My back garden is paved (not my preferred choice but at least it's nicely done) and the back wall is a rather unsightly red brick (1.8m high x 4m wide).
I'd like to put some troughs similar in size to these along the back wall and grow something to hide the wall (so the taller/more it covers the wall the better).
The area is pretty windy at times. I am absolutely fine with building a trellis or any other structure to support climbers (I cannot physically attach anything onto the wall itself unfortunately so everything has to sit just in front).

  • Something that will grow 'quickly' (could cover 1.8m x 4m in ~4-5 years or less)
  • Non invasive (no Ivy etc.)
  • Can survive in the above trough(s) - a growth of 1.2m to top of wall would be ideal but not expected given the area of soil available
  • Open to anything (I've looked into a lot of things like Clematis and Rose climbers etc. but the more I proverbially dig, the more I find stories of 'these are invasive, don't use these' or 'these won't survive in such little soil' so I'm not sure if there is anything out there to suit my needs) 
  • It's a small garden, the depth of the trough/planet really does matter so I would prefer not to go deeper than the 24cm these are
  • Something that doesn't bush out too much would be preferable

Thank you


  • K67K67 Posts: 2,507
    Have you thought about building a trellis with roofing lathes painted in a colour,  and putting mirror behind. Then build a more substantial frame either side that would take several troughs up the frame. If it's in sun you could grow trailing annuals such as petunias or a more permanent planting of heucheras, spring bulbs etc
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 53,996
    Pyracantha would grow in those. It will act as a climber and can also be pruned accordingly. The only drawback is that they're prickly, and many people are put off by that, especially if they have young children.
    You could also grow clematis in them. I assume the '24cm' is the depth front to back? They need depth, so those troughs  would be ok. You need to make sure the growing medium is suitable though. The alpinas are good as they like a drier medium, and will cope with less soil. I have one in a similar site - narrow raised bed. We get a lot of rain, which wouldn't always suit them, but the bed is against a fence, and gets quite dry despite being in the direction of the prevailing wind and rain. It looks better every year, and is in flower just now, although it's main flowering time is spring. You will need to provide proper support for them though - trellis properly fixed to posts in the ground, or attached to paving if you can't get them in that way at all. Or make something simialr to what K67 suggests. I have a screen which is not dissimilar, and was simple to make - posts and vertical battens. 
    There are also clems for containers - take a look at some of the specialist sites and you'll see what's available. Taylor's, Thorncroft and Hawthorne's. The owner of the last one is Richard Hodson and he often posts here on the forum  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • Spartan7Spartan7 Posts: 16
    edited September 2018
    @K67 - Thanks, I had thought about mirrors actually yes, but not in the context you're describing. I will have a think about what you've suggested and how I could get that to fit 

    @Fairygirl - Thank you for the info, yes the 24cm depth is front to back - I am keen on this because the two pillars at either end of the wall extend out ~ 24 cm so it's a good fit. I failed to mention that I didn't expect one plant (in one trough) to cover the entirety of the wall - buying several troughs and having something in each (that won't spread as far) is also an option if needs be - but if it could be grown in just one then that's a bonus. I'd prefer Clem over Pyracantha as I do have young family visiting regularly.
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 53,996
    The alpina clems will cover about 6 feet in width - or mine do anyway. I have trained the new growth horizontally, which means you get good coverage. That's the best method with any clematis anyway. 
    This one is Constance - it's been in about 3 or 4 years. Good sized plant to start with at a couple of years old. They don't require any pruning - the odd trim  and tidy to keep them in place

    These pix are from March and April 2017.
    You can't really see the size of the bed there - it's only about a foot in depth [height, and front to back at the left end] and about 4 feet in length. The right hand end tapers to nothing where that terracotta pot is, as the fence is on an angle. 
    The seedheads are gorgeous too

    I lost a new one last year, but I also have koreana Lemon Dream. It's just a young plant too, but has had a few, very pretty, double, pale lemon flowers, as the name suggests. There are quite a few varieties, so you could have a nice selection there. :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • They're very nice, particularly the Constance. I think I could maybe look at getting two troughs and planting one in each, which will give enough coverage to take the focus off the wall. 

    I will look into Clem variety in more detail to see which is most suited :smile:

  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 53,996
    Yes - one in each trough would be plenty Spartan.  :)
    Lovely plants. I've got a few bits and pieces in with that, as you can see. Pasqueflowers [also have lovely seedheads] chives and a bit of Heuchera, as the base is quite shady even in summer. A load of bulbs in there would make a nice display for spring too. I've got a few crocus in there I think - can't remember  :o
    You could always have a trough or two in the middle  section of the wall, and use them for bulbs and perennials, or annuals, to take the colour and display on through the year. It wouldn't interfere with the growth on the clematis, as you get a reasonable space at the base of them, as you can see from my photo. You could also add some sweet peas to  give height in summer  as well, and the  clematis framework would act as a support for them.
    There are other annual climbers too, depending on your colour preference etc  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • Presumably Richard is here on the forum under his own [user]name?

    What are the flowers to the left of the terracotta pot? :smile:
    Do you have any recommendations for plants that could survive sharing the same trough (I wouldn't have thought about planting anything at the foot of the clems - do these plants not struggle when in the same trough?)
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 53,996
    Yes - Richard posts under his own name.
    That's the Pasqueflowers. They come in purples, plummy pink [like that one ] and white. They seed around too. I also have chives, which is the long, narrow green foliage to the left of the pasqueflowers, and there's a little Tiarella to the left of that. You can put spring bulbs in too - crocus and small daffs. The little Irises would be good, but they diminish over time, and you don't want to keep furtling around the clem roots putting stuff in , and/or taking it out.
    I have an alpine phlox in the next bed, which also has a clematis in it, although not an alpina. Lots of those types of plants would suit - arabis, aubretia, even dianthus would be fine. They all like well drained, half decent soil. There will be other plants that will suit too - Veronicas perhaps. 
    You can't use just compost alone for your troughs - you need a soil based compost, or mix some topsoil with compost and grit to give a nice, free draining medium for plants that will be there long term. I also added quite a lot of well rotted manure to my raised beds.
    They don't get much attention - some B.F.& Bone in spring, and some fresh compost as a mulch now and again. If it's very dry [like this summer]  I water the other clematis as it's a Group 3 type. The alpina doesn't really get anything though.  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • Perfect, I'll probably get some white and purple (Pasqueflowers) to go at the foot of the beds. Funnily enough I had looked at phlox before but wasn't sure how well it would take. Thanks for all the advice. I'll contact Richard by private message  :)
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 53,996
    Just to be clear, Spartan - it's the alpine phlox I have - not the tall perennial type that many people grow  :)
    They're ideal at edges of walls or containers, as it's really well drained there. They cope very well with all the rain we get here, so they must be happy enough. This is the same one as in the raised bed, but on top of my fence, in a window box type container :)

    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
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