Forum home Plants

Under planting suggestions

We have a few large shrubs/bushes in our garden. Whilst its tempting to get rid, that wont be happening any time soon.

The shrubs are about 8ft tall and the bottom 12-18in is the trunk. I'm looking for suggestions for hardy plants, max 12in tall, that I can plant to help prevent weeds and add a bit of colour and interest.

They would need to go under a Forsythia (east facing, so gets sun early morning) and a Bay/Laurel (west facing, so sun late afternoon/evening).



  • B3B3 Posts: 27,004
    edited April 2019
    I'm not keen on them but vinca would grow there .  I'm forever pulling it out from under my bay tree
    In London. Keen but lazy.
  • RubytooRubytoo Posts: 1,474
    edited April 2019
    Vinca are good, they can spread a little madly if they like where you put them , but I don't find them hard to control. But as B3 has mentioned they can be.

    I think I would go for the Vinca minor, I don't grow or not sure about the big ones.
    There are several colour choices with leaf and flower you should find some you might like.
    From personal experience I would say DO NOT buy one called oxypetallum, it is very pretty but worst "invader" I think if you turn your back on it.

    Alchemilla make nice easy leafy mounds and you can cut the flowers off to stop seeding. I like them but some people find the (acid?) green flowers unacceptable.

    Epimediums if you choose evergreen ones have flowers and some pretty interesting coloured winter leaves and fresh new ones in spring make nice patterns and colours too.

    Ophiopogon there are black leaved and green varieties low spreading grassy looking thing with little flowers too. They seem to not mind poorer conditions with a little help to start them off.

    Edited twice as I cannot spell...
  • TopbirdTopbird Posts: 8,241
    Brunnera "Jack Frost" has very attractive leaves and forget-me-not like flowers in spring and forms nice mounds.

    Geranium cantabrigiense "Biokovo" is a low growing (about 6") spreading geranium with interestingly shaped slightly glossy leaves and shell pink / white flowers in early summer.

    Both grow well and provide good ground cover in my dry woodland border.
    Heaven is ... sitting in the garden with a G&T and a cat while watching the sun go down
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 86,945
    Lamium maculatum ‘Beacon Silver’ would do the job and look pretty

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • BorderlineBorderline Posts: 4,700
    Quite a number of plants can do well in those surroundings. If you don't need an evergreen cover, Geranium Phaeum 'Album' will glow under the dark foliage. Houttuynia Cordata and 'Chameleon' with splashes of greens form a mat of foliage. Less aggressive on drier soils. Come spring-time creamy white flowers rise above the mass of interesting foliage. Astrantias might work well too.

    For evergreen cover, you have good recommendations already. I think Bergenia although low ground cover when not in flower, forms a nice form of glossy to leathery cover that turns red in the colder months. Flowers will form in spring into summer and when mass planted, can look good against shrubs like Laurel. Liriope Muscari are tough plants, so should work well when planted in long strips. Autumn flowering in whites and purples are a bonus.

  • LoxleyLoxley Posts: 5,560
    Geranium Rozanne with spring bulbs. The geranium dies off in winter but will form an impenetrable mound of foliage and flowers all summer and most of autumn (spreading to about 1m across). For winter/early spring you can plant bulbs to take over if you like. 
  • FlinsterFlinster Posts: 883
    Perhaps you’ve considered this already, but have you thought about removing some of the lower branches and exposing the stems of the shrubs? They can look quite dramatic and be really attractive? Might refresh the look and give you more planting options?
  • Thanks for all your suggestions, its given me a lot to think about. I have a few hardy geraniums elsewhere, plus a Lamium maculatum that's doing very well under our pine tree so I may get more of those.
    I'll look through the others and see what our local garden centre has in.
Sign In or Register to comment.