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Help me hide a fence!

Hi all this is my first time post but I'm a long time lurker :)  I have a very small courtyard garden mostly decking and so the majority of my plants are in pots.  My living room patio doors  face out into the garden and we have a high fence approx 8 feet high which sits on top of a wall.  Bit hard to describe but essentially decking which is about 10 feet deep then a brick wall approx 4 feet high which we have built a narrow raised bed approx 2 feet deep against and then above that is a border approx 2 feet deep which has 2 small trees one is a cherry and one is a crab apple. So the back border and the fence are higher than the level of the decking ( I will try and post a picture).  Our garden faces west but the fence is east facing if I have worked that out properly.. The borders dont get much sun due to the shade cast by the trees and also there is a very tall building at the back of us that blocks some sun. I've planted the raised bed with hebe's, hydrangea and heucheras but am really struggling with what I can put in the top border as there are so many tree roots that I cant really dig down.  I have a few tulip bulbs for spring colour and currently have pots on there with hostas, another hydrangea and currently some salix flamingo in pots but really want something more longterm and that gives year round interest due to that fact that we are basically looking at a bare fence most of the time.  Any ideas of what I could plant that is shallow rooted, doesnt mind shade and looks good year round? thanks in advance! The plants in my pots are mostly dahlias (huge fan) and tropical type plants such as canna, canary palms and fatisa japonica.  I love bold and bright colours and have a vague purple theme...actually its so vague its not worth mentioning! 


  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 48,054
    edited September 2020
    Hi @maccamans - could you post a photo or two? It's much easier to get a feel for the space and make suggestions. The icon that looks like a postcard of a mountain is the one to use for uploading :)
    Your bed with hydrangea etc sounds too narrow  for that though. They become huge shrubs. 
    Tulips need sun to do well, so pick the sunniest spot for those.  :)
    There's loads of plants that will suit your higher section though, including more Heucheras which will give year round colour, and will be fine once established. If you're able to add a bit more soil to the area, without burying your tree roots, that will help, but you'll probably need some plants for dry shade. Hardy geraniums will be fine, but I'd think low growing ground cover in general may be best, if I've understood your text correctly. Epimediums and Saxifraga urbium will be fine.  Plants with variegated foliage will also be good, and anything which will trail over edges. Even things like Cerastium can cope with a reasonable amount of shade, and don't forget some small spring bulbs too. You could have them in all your planting areas, which gives unity  :)
    I just thought of some easy colour for summer. Nasturtiums will grow there, and they can trail over edges. They're often recommended for sunny sites, but they grow very easily in shadier ones too. 

    Watering them all enough will be the biggest problem, even in a wetter area, as rain may not get down enough in the soil to enable planting to thrive. If you can even set up a seep hose for using in long dry spells, that will make it easier, at least to begin with, and a good mulch after soaking plants will help retain it.

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

  • SueAtooSueAtoo DorsetPosts: 261
    Bit tongue in cheek. For your boring fence, how about thinking outside the box and getting someone to paint a colourful mural or hang some colourful charity shop plates and paint in stems and leaves or get broken tiles and make up your own mosaics.
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 48,054
    I've just realised I forgot to mention climbers. Plenty of choice but they'll need some work to establish, and suitable supports on the fence. Many clematis will be ideal, especially the ones which  prefer drier conditions like alpinas and macropetalas. They don't need pruning as such, just tied in initially, and are very straightforward.  Great for spring colour  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • Thanks @Fairygirl and @SueAtoo for your replies. Have taken some pics which I will now attempt to upload.  
    I was wondering about clematis @Fairygirl but didnt fancy looking at bare stems when not in flower...  Can easily add some trellis or supports though.  Let me know what you think if I manage to attach pics.
    Love those ideas @SueAtoo but husband not so keen ....
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 48,054
    Photos will help get a better feel of the space, and help with other ideas  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 48,054
    I think you're going to struggle with covering the fence all year round. Very little room, and those trees will soak up moisture. However, I'm assuming you have good height in the bed there, so that will help.
    I think you could plant  a couple of alpinas in the bed - especially if you can plant one at the left end, and one between the trees. They'll use the trees as supports, but some wires or trellis would be good so that you can train them in. I'd be inclined to use trellis, and  paint it in a suitable colour to match your general colour scheme. It also means that when any planting is dormant, it becomes a feature in itself. You can even use annuals in hanging troughs on it for summer colour. I think another possibility, to avoid the  bare stems is Phormiums. Ideally , they like a sunny spot, but many of them are quite happy with less sun, and the green with gold/cream variegation are excellent for year round colour. However, if you train the clematis properly horizontally, you'll have greenery right down to the base, and it's there from March until October or so. 
    I have a similar spot in my garden which will give you an idea of what I mean. It's west facing, so I have more sun loving plants, but the theory is the same. I'll look for a pic  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 48,054
    This from 4 years ago - sorry I don't have more recent ones. There's several clematis along the fence - an alpina [Constance] on the far right where the gate is, although the colour is from a later clem.  You can see a Phormium in there on the left, and other grasses further left. I have a white clematis  in behind those, and a macropetala clem  [Lemon Dream]  further left again. Those all flower in spring.  These are all separate beds, and the alpina is in a very narrow one, about a foot [front to back] at the widest. 

    You can see how some planting spills down too.

    It's easy enough to adapt to slightly more shade loving plants, but those clems are fine in any aspect. 
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • great ideas @Fairygirl I'm going to get googing as not familiar with some of those you've mentioned.  Thanks for posting pics of your garden, I love the plants spilling over will have to try and do that too.  Just so much wood with all the decking it drives me mad!  
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