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Help! Robust plants for raised beds south and east facing

RubyBRubyB Posts: 9
Hi, I would really appreciate some advice on my rather bleak looking paved garden which is functional around a bike shed but bare of greenery. Ideally I'd like more perennials which will fill my raised beds and survive my attempts at gardening as a complete novice. East facing raised bed (below) gets a fair amount of sun but partial shade from 3pm onwards. I have a honeysuckle, iceberg rose and jasmine stephane - all doing ok. The honeysuckle has shot up but I would like it to be denser at the bottom so should I trim it?.  I have Euphorbia Humpty Dumpty but they haven't done well -  I'm killing them off.  I thought it was drainage as the soil was still damp so put in perlite and compost. But the bed still looks bare and what I'd really like is more greenery as there is so little in our garden.  Can you recommend any plants for this area?  Hydrangea?   
South facing bed - full sun for a large part of the day. Currently have Clematis Armandii (doing ok but leaves look brown and crinkly at the top - is that over watering/drainage?), Star Jasmine, Salvias and lavender.  They are all ok but this causes me no end of anxiety as it's such a hot bed.  Plus, there are still big gaps and the salvia will die back in winter so maybe I should look at an indestructable shrub instead? 
The north facing bed (above left) is going best, fatsia, hostas and climbing hydrangea all look fine so far (fingers crossed) but I'd love to do more with pots at the far end in the shady corner on the left. The side of the shed gets a lot of sun too so could put a bench in there and create another seating area. 
Finally, what to do at the far end wall of the garage? Put a small tree in a pot?  Or something to climb up the wall? I've tried to see if I could plant create a border direct in the ground but it looks like hard builders' scree underneath.  Sorry for so many questions, I've looked at many websites and taken advice at garden centres, spent a fair amount of money and I'm not doing very well at all! 


  • Firstly well done on a nice and neat looking back garden! Secondly, do try not to worry about it all (although easier said than done!) as gardening should be a pleasure and not just another cause for concern in this very terrible and stressful time. 

    Ok. So for the shady corner, you mentioned some pots perhaps? FERNS! They are really wonderful plants and you can buy such variety and such gorgeous plants, many of which remain lush all year if you choose an evergreen variety. So long as they have a consistent climate that's shady, sheltered and moist - you will have a wonderful little jungle like corner. Try this website, they have a great many lovely ferns

    If you have a sunny-ish edge by the shed, certainly try to get your hands on a bench or seating area, I think you need to find within this space a little area to hang out and enjoy it, as it will also humanize it much more. As it's part shaded and a quite a nice corner space, I would say to have a look at Gunnera Mannicata. It grows into a huge beast but if kept in a large pot that is fertilised regularly and kept moist, you may find that it adds some real drama to that corner space, and will compliment the ferns opposite...

    For your very hot and sunny south facing border - I have the exact same issue as my new garden is also south facing and some beds are simply scorched in the daytime. So far the plants that are doing the best for me are actually sedums (Sedum spectabile 'brilliant') as it flowers later in the summer into October but also retains a marvellous full architecture through the early summer, Autumn and most of the Winter - and it's fully frost hardy too. The bees just love it, so you can't go wrong really! For a similar look but a perennial with a more "cottagey" feel that will die back for sure, try yarrows (Achillia) as they also love full sun and have given my hottest borders a good amount of interest and colour through many months plus they can be inexpensive. Other than that, perhaps try cheaper sun loving annuals such as poppies, Cosmos, Zinnia's...they will die back but will give you a great burst of colour and the seeds are much cheaper than expensive nursery plants. These plants adore hot hot sun, I think they'll be fine there, so long as you have good drainage.

    For the east facing border - this gets the morning sun but afternoon shade correct? If yes then I would strongly recommend some bleeding hearts (Dicentra) as they're just so elegant. Also Foxgloves (another of the bee's best friends!) which you can get now or cheaply buy the seeds and sow them ready for 100's of stately tall spikes next year. Polygonatum x hybridum, or common Solomon’s seal, has green-tipped flowers that hang from arching stems + lush foliage. The flowers can be followed by a black, berry-like fruits and butter-yellow autumn foliage for good wildlife and Autumn interest!

    Just a note in this hot weather - for newly planted expensive plants, pls do water them regularly until they are established and growing away. A good seaweed feed every month or 6 weeks does wonders for me personally too! Te soil looks quite dry - so if you are able to mulch around the tops of the beds with compost or wood chippings you may also find that it protects the soil and retains more moisture too as things have been super dry recently.

    I really hope that helps!
    Happy Gardening and chin up :)
  • RubyBRubyB Posts: 9
    Thank you so much Rebecca and Rik for your comments and advice which is so useful. I have noted all your suggestions. You are quite right, I need to relax about it as I have become so anxious it's ridiculous. I think because we are at home all the time and the garden is so bare and such a disappointment so far (I wanted a much greener space and to get rid of the bike shed but no-one else did).  I've ordered a beach for the sunny corner and will look at all the other plant suggestions. Thank you so much again!!! 
  • LoxleyLoxley Posts: 5,690
    Some grasses might help bulk up the planting, Stipa tenuissima or something like that. They could help bind the planting together if you planted a few of them. Agree with the previously recommended Sedums. "Matrona" is a good one with nice foliage that takes on purplish tones. Bomb proof. The Rugosa roses are tough if you have space.  
    "What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbour". 
  • Blue OnionBlue Onion Posts: 2,995
    Russian Sage does amazing in heat and dry, has a smell when hot or brushed against, and amazing wispy tiny purple flowers that bees go crazy for.  I have it a few places in my garden, and it really thrives and is indestructible once it gets going.  Does well in full sun or part shade.  It's a perennial.. not evergreen, but I leave the plant as-is all winter and enjoy the spiked dead growth.. and prune in the spring.  You can also prune after frost too, if you prefer.  Easy and forgiving plant.
    Utah, USA.
  • RubyBRubyB Posts: 9
    Thanks so much Blue Onion! 
  • RubyBRubyB Posts: 9
    Hi Treeface, thanks for your comment, it does have a back to it. We had wooden backs put in and then lined them all with heavy rubber sheets with hokes in the bottom. Actually I was worried they were too robust and not draining properly. The top layer is dry but it's damp a couple of inches underneath so I'm trying to watch the watering but need to up it with the hot weather. And suggestions for feed are great too. 
  • UsFourUsFour Posts: 49
    Any Carex grass will look fantastic when established but you have to give them time to establish. Worth the wait. Not evergreen but worth the wait for them coming up in spring and being fantastic until late autumn ... got a new one at Morrisons for 6 quid!!See the source image

    The older you get, the more you realise that it is OK to live a life others don't understand.
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