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Under-bench planting

Hello! We have a new garden bench, which we've placed "in" a border by our lawn. We are looking for ideas with respect to what to plant below and around it.

We are trying to establish cottage garden style planting, and are keen on wildlife gardening, as well as productive/kitchen-gardening. The bench (if you're sitting on it) faces approx south-west, and the soil neutral and is heavy clay, which dries hard in the summer as it is also relatively sheltered from the neighbouring trees.

Any ideas with respect to planting ideas, particularly for underneath, but also for the sides and behind (possibly climbers for the fence), would be much appreciated! Many thanks!


  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,739
    If you install some wires or trellis, there are plenty of climbers which will be fine. It would be worth adding some rotted manure and plenty of compost to get the soil in a better state before planting though. That will help with drainage, and will help retain some moisture during hot, dry spells. Lots of clematis will be fine, so take a look at some of the specialist sites to get ideas. Taylors, Thorncroft and Hawthornes are all good, and Peter Beales [roses]  also sell clems, and they're excellent. I expect there will be roses that might suit too, but someone else can advise on that as I don't grow them. 

    As for your bench, you'll have to look for anything that likes some shade. Lots of ferns will be fine, Heucheras/Tiarellas'Heucherellas,  and also things like Ajuga, although that spread quite quickly so you may need to do a bit of 'hoiking out' now and again  ;)
    None of those will get too tall [although you may need to check with some ferns, as they vary enormously] so you can avoid them appearing through the slats. You'd probably find some hardy geraniums will be ok too, but you may need to experiment a little. They would certainly be fine round about the area, especially the base of the climber if you put one in. Some of the little saxifrages on the edges would also work well. 
    There's a good site which specialises in shade plants, so take a look and see what might do well

    Hope that's of some use.
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 87,819
    We've got honeysuckle behind one and Clematis Betty Corning behind another ... underneath we have hardy geraniums with scented foliage ... they don't mind if they get trodden on just a bit, and if that happens we get the lovely perfume from the foliage. 

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • B3B3 Posts: 27,286
    I put sedums in broken pots lying on their sides under one of  mine - but there's no soil there. Another has ferns and ivy under it. I didn't plant the ivy, I just gave up trying to get it out.
    I suppose you need to consider whether you want to attract bees to under your seat.😖
    In London. Keen but lazy.
  • raisingirlraisingirl Posts: 7,079
    erigeron would grow under the bench at the front, if it's SW facing
    Gardening on the edge of Exmoor, in Devon

    “It's still magic even if you know how it's done.” 
  • ButtercupdaysButtercupdays Posts: 4,531
    Under a bench is a very useful space for plants that can withstand winter cold but not winter wet. My Edelweiss survived this last winter and horrid spring under mine, summer flowering bulbs are other possible candidates.
  • bertrand-mabelbertrand-mabel Posts: 2,647
    Our 2 very old benches are now used to hold our cyripedium orchids.
    Underneath we have a mixture of spring bulbs, marigolds, sweet william and poppies.
    Looks good for many months.
  • Thanks everyone for the ideas! It's almost hard to choose which ones to go for!

    @raisingirl I have some erigeron growing to try to plant between some paving cracks, so that might link nicely! I have some creeping thyme between some other paving, so I could transplant a bit of that too perhaps!

    @Buttercupdays and @bertrand-mabel I do love bulbs generally, so I think I really should explore that further! 

    @Dovefromabove Oooh, the idea of things that smell good with a bit of roughing up is great! I never even considered that but it makes a lot of good sense! 

    And thanks @Fairygirl. I think some wires on the fence would be a good idea. I might try and find a couple of clematis that flower at different times perhaps, to provide some prolonged interest. Good to have some recommendations of suppliers though - I hate being let down by the internet! 

    Thanks again so much! I'll try and repost when I have some plants established  :)

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