Looking for Inspiration

Hi all,

I'm looking for some ideas and inspiration for a small bed that we currently have (more or less) empty in the front of our property.

The bed was cleared last year as it was full of Ground Elder which I've painstakingly cleared and left empty for a full growing season to catch any bits of roots that I had missed. I'm now getting ready for planting, but need some inspiration of what to put in!

The house faces to the N West and is heavily shaded by some large trees on the roadside, so plants will need to be able to deal with shade.




I'm thinking of putting in a dwarf acer (but don't want anything that is going to block light into the front winder), but struggling with what to plant with it. 

In terms of colours, looking for whites, reds and purples and ideas that will generate year round interest.

Any ideas gratefully received!

Posts

  • Ladybird4Ladybird4 Third rock from the sunPosts: 24,653
    Hi Paul. Well done you for beating the ground elder. First of all, there is no such thing as a dwarf acer. There are some gorgeous specimens that grow very slowly but they are trees and will eventually get big. Some shrubs that can be kept small and will tolerate shade are sarcococca; dwarf rhododendrons; daphnes and certain members of the hydrangea family. Perennials such as Hellebores for spring displays along with snowdrops, primulas and crocuses would also tolerate that position.
    Cacoethes: An irresistible urge to do something inadvisable
  • JennyJJennyJ DoncasterPosts: 1,352
    I agree with @Ladybird4, but if you really like acers then go for it but be prepared to replace it when it starts to outgrow the space. 
    There should be room for a couple of low-growing shrubs  - maybe something glossy and evergreen to contrast with the acer, or something variegated like the smaller kinds of euonymus.  There's a supposedly-dwarf Photinia, "little red robin"  that's only supposed to grow to about 3 foot (the "little" is important, "red robin" gets tall). That would meet your requirement for red, but mine's only been in since last Autumn so I can't confirm the final height.
    Underplanting with spring bulbs (eg white and/or purple crocus) and maybe adding some  bedding round the edges at various stages during the year would add seasonal variation and colour.

  • DampGardenManDampGardenMan Posts: 1,057
    The bed was cleared last year as it was full of Ground Elder which I've painstakingly cleared and left empty for a full growing season to catch any bits of roots that I had missed. I'm now getting ready for planting, but need some inspiration of what to put in!
    If you've got rid of the ground elder then you've achieved the gardening equivalent of Squaring the Circle! I take my hat off to you, but I think it'll be back so stay vigilant! Once the damn stuff gets in among the roots of shrubs it's there for life. Somebody once told me a tanker load of Agent Orange might do the trick, but not to bet any serious money on it :smile:
  • JennyJJennyJ DoncasterPosts: 1,352
    If you fear the return of the ground elder and want to give it a few more years to be sure, then a mulch of slate or something on the bed and plants in pots/tubs on top might work.
  • The bed was cleared last year as it was full of Ground Elder which I've painstakingly cleared and left empty for a full growing season to catch any bits of roots that I had missed. I'm now getting ready for planting, but need some inspiration of what to put in!
    If you've got rid of the ground elder then you've achieved the gardening equivalent of Squaring the Circle! I take my hat off to you, but I think it'll be back so stay vigilant! Once the damn stuff gets in among the roots of shrubs it's there for life. Somebody once told me a tanker load of Agent Orange might do the trick, but not to bet any serious money on it :smile:
    Thanks - I had the same problem in a bed at the back when we moved in to this house and cleared it the year previously - it was hard work! Digging everything that was in there out and burning it, then sifting through for everything that looked remotely like a root and getting rid of it. 

    I'm really pleased I didn't replant immediately because within weeks it was back and sprouting new growth, but a season of religiously removing any sign of life every couple of weeks appears to have worked.

    That bed at the back is now full of hellebores and no sign of any ground elder after circa 20 months.

    I'm hoping the front will be the same (although I know there is some in the neighbours garden which will attempt to cross back over the divide). 

    Thank you for the suggestions so far!
  • LiriodendronLiriodendron Todmorden, West YorksPosts: 5,269
    If you plant an Acer palmatum 'Dissectum', with very finely-divided leaves, it will grow very slowly indeed.  My parents had one for thirty years which got no taller than 3 feet, though it did spread sideways (to about 5 feet in the end).  (I see the RHS say they reach 4-5 feet in 10-20 years, but you can carefully prune any shoots which are growing too vertically.)    They do well in shade.

    We did completely eradicate the ground elder in our first garden.  The soil was very light, and we were very patient... 

    I think I'd plant some spring bulbs, and ground cover plants to reduce the work.  Front gardens can get a bit neglected, so anything to suppress weeds will make your life easier.  On my shady slope I have Ajuga reptans 'Burgundy Glow' (pinkish young leaves and blue flowers), green-and-white variegated ivy, oak fern (spreads gently, delicate 6" fronds), Vinca minor (periwinkle) and Gaultheria procumbens, little evergreen spreader with white spring flowers and red berries.  Lily of the valley pops up through the ground cover after the snowdrops and crocuses are over...
    "The one who plants trees, knowing that he will never sit in their shade, has at least started to understand the meaning of life."  Rabindranath Tagore
  • DampGardenManDampGardenMan Posts: 1,057
    We did completely eradicate the ground elder in our first garden.  The soil was very light, and we were very patient...
    My experience was of a forest of ground elder in a very heavy clay. After a couple of years of patient digging, I gave up and covered it with a ground membrane, chucked some wood chips on top and declared it a woodland area! Worked very well actually, snowdrops and bluebells thrived in the rotting chippings (which I topped up periodically). I've had to do the same in our "new" garden, but have yet to plant anything in the mulch.

    Lily of the Valley - isn't that a bit of a thug too?
  • LiriodendronLiriodendron Todmorden, West YorksPosts: 5,269
    Sometimes... mine tends to prefer growing in the lawn to staying where I put it.  It's lovely though.  And some people can't grow it at all.  A bit like snowdrops - it knows what it likes, but it's not going to tell you.
    "The one who plants trees, knowing that he will never sit in their shade, has at least started to understand the meaning of life."  Rabindranath Tagore
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