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Blank canvas

Hello, I'm a long time lurker! 

Just wondering if anyone has any good ideas for what we could do with our garden. We cut down a load of leylandii last year and replanted portuguese laurel, weeded and laid down bark chip as mulch. We've planted two small apple trees to the right of the photo adjacent to the remaining cypress but that's basically it. The grass is a bit mossy and weedy but don't mind that too much as have kids. I'd like to stick a few more trees in and extend the beds out into the grass more cause have loads of herbaceous perennials etc growing in pots but beyond that am a bit intimidated by it 'cause it's a bit of a blank slate. The weeds are bananas but we're getting there slowly. Garden is south facing, sun much of the day, soil and drainage is fairly okay, neutral leaning acidic, but the site is exposed and very windy for a large part of the year. The area you can't see towards the bottom of the picture has two well established acers and the rest is weed membraned/stones by the previous owners. Will fix that at a later date but want to focus on the top bit of the garden this year. Thanks in advance for any suggestions!




  • If it’s very windy, then planting a selection of trees and shrubs will help to break the wind. You could plant a ‘shelter belt’ which also has advantages for wildlife. 

    Beyond that, it’s a matter of working out how much lawn you want and where, whether you need any paved areas, etc., and above all what you want to use your garden for. That will establish the basic parameters for you in terms of where you will be best putting borders. After that, it’s a matter of deciding on the effects you like most for the beds and borders. Prairie, cottage garden, ‘tropical’ garden—there are a lot of options. With quite a windy garden, though, your best bet will be to use plants adapted to windy conditions. Some grasses, like Miscanthus, are good, and providing the site is open (as your photos suggest) a lot of the Piet Oudolf plants ought to thrive.
  • ontopofthehillontopofthehill IrelandPosts: 41
    Thanks a lot Cambridgerose, very helpful. Have roughly sketched out what we'd like to do below. Have 2 cherry blossoms and a birch ready to go in plus a load of herbaceous perennials as I said with a few small box and other shrubs. The end of the beds will be rounded, not straight but couldn't figure out how to do that in the app.

    Basically it'll be sun loving plants on the left and shade on the right (as the cypress dominate on that side). We already have the decking and shed so in a year or two will get some vegetable raised beds and hopefully a greenhouse going over that end. Might reuse the pebbles lower down the garden for the seating area on the upper left but again that's probably a next year job.

    Hadn't heard of Piet Oudolf before but that's a great list & we actually have a few of them already either in pots or growing from seed currently which is handy. Thanks again for your help!

  • ontopofthehillontopofthehill IrelandPosts: 41
    edited July 2021

    Small update cause always like to see other people's progress but finished edging the beds up the back yesterday and have done some planting. There's a whole other part of this bed but haven't got a decent photo of it. Have planted loads of different grasses and perennials plus whatever I grew in my overambitious seed fest from earlier in the year. Also planted a gifted golden willow (right up back, bit scared of his potential cause he's flying already), a white and pink cherry tree, another small apple tree, a birch, magnolia and a dwarf blue conifer scattered about. Need to finish mulching and weeding but getting there slowly. The bracken is wrecking my head out this side of the garden and the bindweed and brambles out the front but we'll get there in the end!
  • WonkyWombleWonkyWomble SuffolkPosts: 4,296
    It's looking lovely! So nice to see progress pictures so thank you! I missed your original post but looking back your right it really was a blank canvas!! @Cambridgerose12 gave you good advice and you've really taken the bull by the horns! It will all grow into the space in no time,  well done!
  • ontopofthehillontopofthehill IrelandPosts: 41
    Thanks so much WonkyWomble! Delighted to have that job done and the curves really do make it look less like a field and more like a garden   :D Always appreciate how encouraging everyone is here. Hadn't a clue what I was at last year and our new hedge (which is now fine) was rapidly dying before FairyGirl got us back on track. I'll post more progress hopefully next summer once things have grown in. 
  • Cambridgerose12Cambridgerose12 Posts: 1,044
    That’s looking wonderful! Well done you! I can recognise the odd thing scattered about there—Alstroemeria ‘Indian Summer’ I think, and Cosmos—scale of the photo a bit small to be sure, but I can already picture it. Yes, exactly, you need the shrubs as a framework and backdrop—if you choose some good tough ones like elder (check out ‘Black Lace’ and golden leafed forms), Viburnums (e.g. lantana, x bodnantense, betulifolium, opulus), and Euonymus (e.g. planipes, europaeus) they will gradually outcompete the bracken and act as a boundary to reduce the spread, though you may need to put down a physical barrier of some sort if you really can’t stay on top of it. The main thing will be to think up really good foliage and flower shape combinations. Some perennials to consider might include Campanula lactiflora, Thalictrum, Gaura lindheimeri and Verbena bonariensis. A good place to browse for shrub ideas is Burncoose nursery, and they also have slightly acid soil there.
  • ontopofthehillontopofthehill IrelandPosts: 41
    Thanks CambridgeRose! Will definitely look into some of those shrubs for next year. Spot on regarding the alstroemeria and cosmos! Off the top of my head planted elaeagnus quicksilver, pieris forest flame, hebe, heucheras, peonies, penstemon, various types of persicaria, geranium rozanne, gaura, coreopsis, rhodedendrons, ornamental thistles, geums, miscanthus yaku jima and morning light, achilleas, anemones, verbena, echinaceas, echium, loads of salvias, rudbeckia, french and english lavender, heathers, greater knapweed, alliums, deschampsia bronze veil, stipa tenissima, stipa gigantea, cornus, and agapanthus. Plus other stuff whose names I don't know. Had some of it in pots already over the last few years, many were grown from seed and some were bought from shops (we're lucky to have an amazing perennial nursery near my in laws). Have lobbed in whatever leftover cosmos/strawflowers/annuals etc I grew from seed to fill in the gaps while things grow in. I'm not going to pretend this was all carefully planned, work full time and have two kids under 5 so am sure it's going to be a bit higgeldy piggedly and trial and error but sure that's half the fun. Will update next summer if things survive the winter! Thanks again. 
  • Busy-LizzieBusy-Lizzie Posts: 20,369
    Well done, it looks lovely.
    Dordogne and Norfolk
  • ontopofthehillontopofthehill IrelandPosts: 41
    Thanks Busy Lizzie! Getting there slowly  :)
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