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Awkward narrow bed plant ideas please...

Hello there, I’m figuring out how to replace the boring, floppy grass that we’ve let grow long for wildlife, with a wildlife and kid friendly alternative. It’s an east facing space that is 0.5 metre at its widest, narrowing to 0.2 metre at its smallest width, next to a pond ...although still needs watering as it gets dry. The wood/ stump is going to remain and will continue to be a table/ seat/ cover for wildlife. 

I plan to dig out the border to make a bed to the dimensions described and so far have foxgloves growing in pots. Snowdrops and bluebells planned for planting this autumn and i’m also considering Stellaria holostea to plant throughout to replace the benefits of the current grass.

The fence will probably have a clematis like jingle bells, so will provide a nice lush green back drop set against the brown fence. We already have a load of ferns and hostas planted elsewhere so would like something a bit different for this spot. I’d really like it to continue to provide cover for froglets and other mini beasts throughout the year. Thoughts for plants would be very much appreciated ...and if anyone can tell me what would provide Pom Pom like seed heads that look good if not dead headed and left to dry (so catches a spot of frost in winter) would be a bonus ...thanks!


  • LoxleyLoxley NottinghamPosts: 4,964
    My first thought, can you not make it a bit deeper, around 90cm or more?
  • Clara MidgleyClara Midgley Posts: 28
    edited August 2019
    Hi Will, unfortunately the garden itself is long and narrow (4 metres at its widest point) and currently needs a bit of lawn for a toddler to charge around. We’re growing cordon and fan fruit trees on the opposite fence like to make good use of the vertical option ...just want to figure out a way of making it less floppy lawn grass at the bottom of the east facing fence without resorting to trimming away the habitat altogether.
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 48,932
    edited August 2019
    Heucheras [and their associates] Hellebores, Ajuga, Vinca, Japanes Anemones [for a bit of height] Hardy geraniums, Lilies, grasses like Hakenochloa, and the evergreen variegated Carexes, bulbs like daffs/narcissus. Pulsatilla [pasqueflowers] are good for spring too. Those will all grow perfectly well in  an east facing site. You can also use things like Euonymous, which will act like a climber when put against a fence. 
    If you can keep it moist enough, Astilbes will also grow there. Bit of height from them too. 
    If you line  a section of it with plastic or pond liner, or even just sink a container into the ground, next to your pond area, you can grow some marginals like Equisetum, which will provide verticals for things like emerging dragonflies, and will provide evergreen interest over winter. They take up very little room too, so are ideal for a small space. Good old Caltha [marsh marigold] would be a reliable accompaniment for that, and is also evergreen. Good for cover for wildlife.  :)

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

  • Alliums do well in shade and have lovely seed heads
  • Thankyou for these wonderful tips Fairygirl and bookmonster! I removed the turf yesterday so looking forward to figuring out how to get it best prepped for some of these lovely plants :smile:
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