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North Facing Wall - looking for suggestions on new small planter at cottage

A friend of mine lives in a lovely Georgian cottage but sadly with no garden. However, as part of some renovation work she now has a small planter in the corner of her house and neighbouring wall - see attached photo.  We are looking to get some plants in the next few days before frost sets in over the coming weeks and would welcome any suggestions from the more experienced on this forum as to what will thrive in this area, particularly with it being North facing and due to larger houses either side it doesn't get a lot of sun each day.  Her preference would be to have something Evergreen but would like if possible some sort of flower in the Spring/Summer.  Thank you in advance for any suggestions on plant style but also where we could order online in this current lockdown.   


  • PosyPosy Isle of Wight.Posts: 3,305
    How deep is the soil? I am not confident that anything will grow in that tiny space but an ivy might survive.
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 46,968
    Do you mean the bit on the right - against the wall?
    If you're allowed to have something on the wall, there are plenty of small clematis that will grow there, however, if you want evergreen, it's more limiting.
    Osmanthus burkwoodii would certainly be happy, but the flowers are small and in late winter. Lots of small plants will grow at the base, from primulas to hellebores, and lots of 'winter into spring' bulbs. You could add some annual colour though - there are annuals which will grow well enough in shade for summer colour. 
    It's also worth considering baskets and troughs for the walls if allowed. You can create a 'green' wall quite easily. Ferns, Hellebores, Iberis [ perennial candytuft ] Heucheras, Saxifrages etc  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • PosyPosy Isle of Wight.Posts: 3,305
    But it's only about 4 inches deep.....
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 46,968
    Where does it say that? 
    I assumed it was open to the ground. If not - not much chance of anything growing then! 
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • PosyPosy Isle of Wight.Posts: 3,305
    Clarification needed, I think. I assumed that it was ON the cobbles. Perhaps not....
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 46,968
    Ah - I see what you mean. Yes - clarification needed  ;)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • Lizzie27Lizzie27 SomersetPosts: 9,425
    @Stevey0,  assuming you mean the small planter on the right can you confirm whether or not there's cobbles underneath or soil please. If it's cobbles, then you could plant small bulbs like crocuses and dwarf irises, but anything bigger might struggle.
    I would also suggest (as I'm sure you're probably going to) that you very carefully clear away all that loose slate (?) before it gets nudged over the edge and is there going to be an edging over the top of that holey white metal trim? it looks a bit odd at the moment.
  • Hi @Posy @Fairygirl @Lizzie27 - thanks for your responses so far.

    There is definitely soil underneath - the renovation work included expanding the light well for the basement and whilst they were digging they put in the planter using some of the spare cobbles.  The loose slate you see is going to be dropped back into the light well so once finished you will just have cobbles and the planter ... with soil underneath.

    I was thinking about some sort of climber also and the wall that runs off the house does belong to her so can be utilised but I think initially she was thinking of some sort of flowering bush that will grow over the years but clematis complementing it would be good.

    Thanks :)

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 78,234
    @Fairygirl ... what about a camelia?  My Aged Ps had a beautiful one in a northfacing spot. 
    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 46,968
    Yes - a Camellia would work, and you could certainly add one of the small clematis for extending the  season. The alpinas or macropetalas wouldn't take any moisture away from the camellia. They also need very little attention in terms of pruning.
    However - it would depend on the soil. Neutral to acidic would be needed for a Camellia or Rhodo/Azalea. If it's alkaline that's no good. Whatever the soil is, it'll need a bit of extra nutrition and organic matter added to give it a boost, and watering would need to be done to establish shrubs of any kind. Planting smaller specimens would also be easier with those, as the area is quite restricted.  :)

    Some bulbs and ground cover plants would also help fill bare spaces until the shrub grows.  Lots of choices for ground cover as I mentioned earlier  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

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