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If you had a free reign over this front garden

what would you do?

It is roughly 5.50 x 4.50. North-east facing, full sun in the morning. Continental winters, although not what it used to be.

Soil is clay, slightly acidic. As you can see, it looks like a big raised bed on the side of the garage, so it is well drained. Ideally I would like plants that are not too thirsty.

The berries of the berberis are very much liked by migrating birds in October plus it screens the house from the street so I would like to keep it. I would like to replace whatever is in the middle with a small deciduous tree/large shrub but all suggestions are very welcome. Thank you!



  • FireFire Posts: 17,398
    Hi, where are you?
  • coccinellacoccinella Posts: 1,020
    Luxembourg.  :)

  • I think the conifer in the middle has potential to be an interesting feature in the garden if it was pruned into a more interesting shape. It already has what looks to be a fairly mature and interesting looking lower trunk and pruning it to give a more interesting structure could make it into a very nice feature. Cloud pruning like gardeners practice in Japan can make very attractive looking garden trees and if it does not work you could still just remove it like you have suggested. I'd also add in some Ajuga plants as ground cover in places but I'd need to find out what the other plants are and when the area would benefit from more flowers or colour to decide on what else to plant or what to remove as the picture is too distant from the existing plants for me to positively identify them. I think this type of pittosporum is a good choice for year round interest in a smaller space.
  • coccinellacoccinella Posts: 1,020
    Thank you Robaird. The tree is too small for cloud pruning I think. The other plants are: on the right a Ilex (selfplanted) The edge is Berberis thunbergii atropurpurea (I think). The other one is a rhododendrum which I don't mind if it goes as it is too dry there for it even if it has lasted 30 years. 

  • Lena_vs_DeerLena_vs_Deer Posts: 203
    edited July 2021
    Few clumps of day lilies would give some nice blooms and vibrant foliage. There’s small varieties if tall ones are too much. And they take just about any weather imaginable. And grow fine without watering once established. Summer blooms (about right now).

    Daffodils are always nice for spring. Not too thirsty either, like clay, like being dry. 

    I would also plant some euphorbia, but that seems to be a plant people either love or hate haha. But it’s not thirsty, evergreen and fills the space nicely 
  • coccinellacoccinella Posts: 1,020
    I do like Euphorbia Lena _vs_Deer :) and I have some at the back. But would you keep the funny looking tree? I love watching the passing seasons, so ideally I would replace it with an Amelanchier which also has berries. We have autumnal migrations of redwings and it is lovely to give them a meal to help them on their way. 

  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,016
    I wouldn't keep the conifer, It isn't adding anything to the space. I'd have a think about the Ilex too - it's not in a great position for access to the windows. 
    I think you need to decide what sort of look you like - do you want flowery plants, do you want structural plants, do you want evergreens. That sort of thing. Consider how much time you want to spend on maintenance too. Also, if you're keen to attract birds- you may want something like a birdbath - makes a nice focal point too. 
    Raised areas always tend to be drier anyway, so you'd need to pick suitable plants for that, but it isn't too difficult. Plenty of choice. Perhaps some with good autumn colour.

    The amelanchier would make a nice focal point, so perhaps have that in the middle and plant around it. Trailing plants to cover that wall. Perennials, bulbs etc. 
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • coccinellacoccinella Posts: 1,020
    Thank you Fairygirl, I guess I just need to pluck up the courage to call someone in to remove it. They have cut so many trees around here that I feel reluctant about adding my own to it. But an Amelanchier would look good and I read it has shallow roots so it should help. Will post a pic!

  • B3B3 Posts: 26,562
    I would plant something that would drape over the walls.
    In London. Keen but lazy.
  • Busy-LizzieBusy-Lizzie Posts: 22,662
    I would get rid of that rather ugly central tree too. I think Amelanchier is a good choice, pretty flowers and spring foliage and good autumn colour too, not too heavy.

    I would plant the sort of plants that grow well in dry shade as the tree will use some moisture and being between the house and the hedge means it won't be sunny, although you say morning sun. I would choose good and contrasting leaf shapes, such as hostas, brunneras, hemerocallis, hellebores, epimediums, underplanted with spring bulbs. Then I would plant aubretia, campanula poscharskyana, phlox subulata around the edges to hang over the walls.
    Dordogne and Norfolk. Clay in Dordogne, sandy in Norfolk.
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