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What would you do with this area when spring comes around?

I thought it would be easiest to do an annotated photo, so here goes...

General summary...
This is the south-facing fence at the back of my garden. The area was previously a bit of a wasteland; it has quite heavy clay soil, and was covered with weed fabric - so very little life. The back of the garden is dominated by the eucalyptus tree, which is 20m+ tall. There's a photinia shrub growing immediately in front of it, and these (along with the neighbour's trees/shrubs) somewhat overshadow the part with the light-coloured fence.

The pear tree has been there 3-4 years but hasn't grown much. It did better this year (producing a handful of fruit) after I severely cut back the photinia.

The small shrub to the left of the pear tree is a pretty shabby hydrangea. I'm not bothered about keeping it.

This year I have...
Repaired and painted part of the fence (the dark brown part); planted the Himalayan birch; installed a trellis and planted 2 clematis to climb up it. Today I've finished digging over the area, have dug in some manure and covered with bark for the winter.

What I'm like...
A gardener without much expertise or spare time! I'm thinking about tough shrubs, hardy perennials, easy ground cover and the like. Not really planning to spend lots of time planting out annual borders.


A bit of advance planning is always good, so your thoughts on what I might do with this area in spring would be very welcome! Many thanks.


(measurements in cm)


Posts

  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 35,152
    The amount of shade cast by the eucalyptus will have made, and will continue to make,  it very difficult for the pear, so you may need to make a decision there.  :)
    I'd separate the two clematis as well - depending on what varieties they are. They're very close together. 
    The birch will also cast a fair bit of shade once established, so bear that in mind. 
    Even a south facing plot is altered once you get other shrubs or trees in it.
    The competition for moisture is a big factor, and you have a lot of that - the eucalypt, photinia, as well as neighbour's plants. That's particularly relevant for the clematis - unless they're the ones which like a drier spot, ie alpinas, macropetalas etc. 
    Then it comes to down to how much time you want to spend, colours and budget. Shrubs and some easy perennials/bulbs would be the easiest solution. There isn't a huge amount of room though.
    Philadelphus, Weigela, Potentilla will all do well enough, but you'd only need one or two of those, and that would also depend on variety. Some verticals through and behind those would also work. Probably those that like a little more shade though - Campanulas, Japaneses anemones and Digitalis for example. 
    Loads of perennials would be fine there, especially at the front, from geraniums and some of the 'daisy' plants [Leucanthemums, Asters, Anthemis etc ],  to heucheras [at the shadier parts] and ferns [if you like them] with a load of spring bulbs planted in among those. There are loads of others.  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....


  • Thank you, that's really helpful!

    I had an inkling the pear tree might need to 'retire'...

    I suppose my thinking was that because the clematis would end up being quite shaded by the birch, having two would give me a spread across the whole fence. I could always move one to the side fence at 90 degrees to it, I suppose?

    They are Viticella, by the way - one is Minuet and the other Etoile Violette. 
  • FireFire LondonPosts: 7,173
    I think that eucalypt may well cause problems. They are trees that don't much like neighbours.
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 35,152
    edited 22 November
    E. Violette will easily fill that bit of fence [at the back]  that's painted, so I think it would be wise to move one of them  :)
    You could move Minuet to the right hand side of the back fence or that fence on the left. It would be a question of positioning - for access to them [pruning etc] and whatever would be best in terms of the soil and watering. Both need a lot of water and food, and the tree roots will take up a lot  :)

    Just a thought - if you want to put Minuet on the left, you could add an early flowering one for the back fence. Alpinas and Macropetalas like drier conditions, and need very little attention once you have them trained onto wires or trellis, as they're Group 1 for pruning. They flower in spring, and then sometimes later on as well, so that would give you some succession of flowering there. 
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....


  • Fairygirl said:
    E. Violette will easily fill that bit of fence [at the back]  that's painted, so I think it would be wise to move one of them  :)
    You could move Minuet to the right hand side of the back fence or that fence on the left. It would be a question of positioning - for access to them [pruning etc] and whatever would be best in terms of the soil and watering. Both need a lot of water and food, and the tree roots will take up a lot  :)

    Just a thought - if you want to put Minuet on the left, you could add an early flowering one for the back fence. Alpinas and Macropetalas like drier conditions, and need very little attention once you have them trained onto wires or trellis, as they're Group 1 for pruning. They flower in spring, and then sometimes later on as well, so that would give you some succession of flowering there. 
    Interesting idea, but just to be clear - do you mean it would be OK to have an early flowering, Group 1 clematis next to Violette on the darker coloured fence? Or did you mean further along on the lighter fence (and give Violette that whole darker section)?

    Also, when would be best to move Minuet?
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 35,152
    Yes - on the lighter section of fence. There are plenty of paler ones which would lighten up that spot too. Have a look at the specialists for ideas - Taylor's, Thorncroft and Hawthornes. Peter Beales [the rose specialists] also have a good selection of clems. I got several from them this year  :)
    I'd move Minuet now. Ground's damp, and it will get a chance to establish before spring. They don't look as if they're very mature plants anyway, so it's better doing it sooner rather than later, and while you can get in there without too much bother. 
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....


  • Perfect, thanks! The two I bought earlier this year were from Taylor's, and I found their guides very helpful.
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