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Raised bed

I've got a raised bed that's approx 8m x 2m. I'm a complete novice and been watching Gardener's World for the whole summer but I'm now overwhelmed and completely confused. The bed is more or less bare apart from the constant weeds and I don't know what to do next. I would love some flowering shrubs and bulbs to cover the area to give some colour throughout the spring and summer. I would prefer plants that will be no higher than 2ft. Many thanks Pat
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  • nick615nick615 SW IrelandPosts: 999
    If you need thinking time, Pat, this might be the time to cover the whole bed with black plastic, anchored down of course, to kill off your weeds.  At least you'll have a more or less clean slate to start with in spring but, if there are bulbs etc. you need to plant soon, just cover part of it?
  • Thank you 
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 46,463
    Hi @pattwebb - that's a sizeable bed so it's easy to see why you'd feel a bit overwhelmed.  :)
    Can you give us an idea of the general aspect, and what sort of colours you like and dislike, and also what time you have to spend on maintaining it?  Is there a wall/fence etc behind it or is it completely free standing, and what height is the bed too ? 
    2 feet is quite small, so is there a reason for that? There are plants which are taller, but not 'solid' so they don't block light or views too  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....


  • Thanks for your comment and interest. I'm not sure of the aspect but does get a good amount of sun everyday. I've attached some photos to help explain. I work full time so bit of time in the evenings and weekends. I want small plants because of the height of the plants in the background. 
  • edhelkaedhelka GwyneddPosts: 2,122
    What is your budget? Do you want to buy larger plants or smaller and let them grow. Or do you want to grow from seeds? What colours do you like?
    Now would be the time to order/buy the bulbs but you would need to also get the other plants to be able to plant them together. So you would need to decide quickly. If this is more stress than fun for you, it isn't worth it and it would be better to take the winter to think about it.
    If you want some colour there this spring and keep things easy, just buy a big bag of daffodils and some easy ground covers, maybe some spreading hardy geraniums (Anne Thomson, Ann Folkard, Rozanne etc.) or something like that. And you can think about structural plants or shrubs later.
  • Thanks for your thoughts. I don't mind what colours and would probably buy small plants to grow larger or even from seed. 
  • Blue OnionBlue Onion Posts: 2,901
    I like to grow annuals around newly-planted perennials.. until they get larger.  It fills the bed in a way that allows for the yearly growth of the shrubs and others.  Pull the annuals out in the fall and add a nice layer of mulch to suppress late and early weeds.. then plant some different annuals the next year, or different colors, etc.  Unfortunately, weeds are a constant companion in lovely nice bare soil.  
    Utah, USA.
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 46,463
    Repeat planting is a very useful tool in a long bed. Smaller numbers of types, and use more of them. Planting perennials and bulbs at the same time is always a good idea as @edhelka says, but if that isn't possible, small perennials can go on top of many bulbs, especially the bigger ones which are planted more deeply anyway. 
    Many nurseries offer discounts on multiple buys too. 
    Geraniums are a great start, and easy to maintain. For a bit of height, to give contrast, you could have Astrantias or Achilleas which are summer flowering, some of the shorter Crocosmias for later on [they vary a lot , so pick a suitable one]  and Asters. The 'daisy' plants like Leucanthemum or Helenium are very good value as they flower for a long time, and spread quite quickly to give good sized clumps.
    There are hundreds of perennials which would suit, but those are all pretty easy to obtain  :)
    If you want some small shrubs for structure, Hebes might be fine- again lots of different types and sizes, so choose carefully, but they're also readily available and easy. Most shrubs eventually get a bit bigger, but if your soil's suitable, some of the small Azaleas would also be fine, as long as the soil is reasonably moisture retentive. Best planted in the shadier sections too. There are also evergreen grasses if you like them, and they would give contrast. Plenty of deciduous ones too for some variegation. Hakonechloa is excellent, and there are various Carexes of both types which would work. Uncinia is also good for a contrasting colour.  
    Annuals are a great idea to fill the gaps until plants mature. Some are very simple to use too, and you'd get lots of suggestions for those if you decide to do that.  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....


  • Thanks very much for all your comments. A lot to ponder over during our winter lockdown! 
  • JennyJJennyJ DoncasterPosts: 6,164
    Small shrubs like shrubby salvias if it gets plenty of sun, or the smaller types of hardy fuchsia for part-shade, would be nice and bright, and flower pretty much all summer until they get frosted. The old wood can be pruned back pretty hard in spring and they'll regrow and flower again. Some small evergreens (smaller types of hebe, euonymus that you can prune to keep small, etc) would be good for winter interest. For summer-flowering perennials, penstemmon have a long flowering period, and I have a couple of scabious (pink mist and butterfly blue) that have been flowering non-stop since April.
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