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Blank garden canvass; planting for birds and wildlife



  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 29,839
    When you're selecting plants, look at their eventual height and width and then you'll see that those borders are far too narrow for things like hydrangeas and viburnums.   They won't grow big straight away so use annuals or short-lived perennials to fill the space until they do.

    I would suggest planting the fruit trees on the far fence at the bottom so they get maximum sunshine and then also remember the maxim for small gardens - fewer plant varieties but big leaves or features or else it all looks bitty and messy.
    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • Simone_in_WiltshireSimone_in_Wiltshire Posts: 988
    edited December 2021
    If your garden is North-facing, a lot of the garden will be in shade at a certain time which has an impact on the plants that you choose. Rain comes preferable from the South West and everything next the fences needs watering.
    I would start with a small tree (in final size) on the left top corner, and digging out an area for one bed. Expand the planting once you are confident about what you want.
    Check with all the plants their final spread and height before you buy them. A Buddleia can take up to 4 meters in spread and since your garden looks like just 8 meters wide, that can be a problem.

    Just a tip: in case you are not affected by knee problems, weeding itself is no problem as long as you remove the weeds immediately. Taking care of the lawn takes far more time.

    I my garden.

  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,353
    Just looking again at your choices, there's virtually nothing evergreen, apart from the Euonymous [which probably isn't visible from the doors] the climbing hydrangea, some lavender and box, and box comes with problems nowadays unless you're in the right area.
    That means very little to look at, from late autumn until spring.
    The cornus will have coloured stems, but it's worth considering a range of evergreen plants, as well as some with winter interest, plus spring bulbs. That will offer more interest for you, as well as vital food sources for pollinators.  :)
    Weeding isn't a problem if you use lots of ground cover under shrubs and trees. There are plenty of plants whether dry or wet, sun or shade, that will do the job.  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • Thank you everyone for your input, I'm taking all your suggestions on board :)

    Gardens never stop being tweaked, it's what makes them enjoyable.

    "and then also remember the maxim for small gardens - fewer plant varieties but big leaves or features or else it all looks bitty and messy."

    I've never heard of this, thanks Obelixx,

    Trying to be the person my dog thinks I am! 

    Cambridgeshire/Norfolk border.
  • PlantmindedPlantminded Posts: 3,064
    Hi @Jenny_Aster, I think that @Fairygirl's point about evergreens is really important - they will add structure to your garden for all seasons.  Now is a really good time to get this basic structure in so you can see how your garden will look next winter - if it looks good in winter, all your additional plantings will add interest and colour for the rest of the year. 

    You may like to consider adding a few ornamental grasses to your planting plan - you'll appreciate their presence particularly over winter when their seed heads and stems reflect any light.  They add height, movement and sound, grow quickly and require little maintenance. 

    Try to avoid a "centrifugal" garden with everything swept out to the edges.  I'd consider reshaping your lawn into a circle - it will make the whole space seem bigger and give you more border space for planting. 

    Also, check the quality of your soil before doing any planting and improve its condition if necessary with compost, leaf mould, soil conditioner etc (but no feed at this stage). You're going to be busy!
    Wirral. Sandy, free draining soil.

  • RedwingRedwing Posts: 1,458
    edited December 2021
    Such a lot of helpful comments.  I agree there are too many plants for the size of garden.  The rowan is well placed and could be a focal point in this garden, provided you don't have heavy clay.  It is a good choice for attracting wildlife; I've never been able to grow one despite trying a few times, just won't tolerate my heavy clay. A crab apple is another good choice for a small wildlife friendly garden.

    How nice to be given rose vouchers!  Just remember singles or semi doubles are best for wildlife.  DA has recommendations for bees but some of them look like they have a lot of petals to me:

    I would agree with @Fairygirl 's point that you are lacking in evergreens.  Some evergreens that I have found good for pollinating insects are:

    Teucrium fruiticans - this is a little known plant but is excellent for pollinators as it can flower in every month of the year and and I often see bumblebees on mine in mild winter periods.  It's not a show stopper of a plant but a really useful one.  Needs well drained soil and a sunny spot. (I do have one well drained bed.)
    Rosemary - many different ones, flowers in winter also.  I particularly like the prostrate form, which is also a good groundcover and will help with no weeding.
    Berberis - a big choice here. Darwinii has a few flowers over the winter in my garden and then more in early spring so good for pollinators.

    Hope that helps.

    Based in Sussex, I garden to encourage as many birds to my garden as possible.
  • Yes, you're so right Redwing, so many really helpful hints, I really appreciate everyone's help. I do have a very sad looking holly in a plant pot that I'd forgotten about, my kind sister-in-law started taking cuttings from some of her shrubs to help stock our garden - it needs some TLC or better still, planting! Maybe a Mahonia should be introduced, I read they are good for pollinators. Teucrium fruiticans should go on my list too.

    Never thought of grasses, such a good idea! 

    I'm only just looking towards the garden, we've only moved here in September, and what with my husband taking ill, thinking about the garden feels like an indulgence. The only bit of the garden I dug was a square foot to cement in the washing line ;). At first sight the ground looks to be a mixture of gravel and soil. My thoughts are to rough dig the beds for the frost to break down the structure, but spot composting the planting holes. Hopefully doing it this way will help spread the cost and work.

    By the way, the soil should be good as I live in prime horticulture county on the Fens - though no doubt the garden has been compacted with builder's heavy machinery and rubble.

    Trying to be the person my dog thinks I am! 

    Cambridgeshire/Norfolk border.
  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 29,839
    I agree about making the lawn circular.  Doesn't have to be a complete circle but you could extend the patio to the left so it's all in one with the path down the side and then draw a circle from the two corners.  That will give you wider beds in the corners and more room for shrubs leaving the fences available for climbers or cordons.

    I would put a proper shed down in the corner by the fence next to the neighbour's house and the wormery between the shed and the side fence so it doesn't bake in summer or get frozen solid in winter.  That's an ideal corner for a compost bin too.

    Get your holly planted out as soon as possible so it can get its roots down over winter.  A mahonia is a good idea as the flowers are early so helpful to solitary bees and any other pollinators out looking for food and if you choose well they don't get too big too quickly and have good perfume.  Some hellebores would also provide winter pollen and nectar and evergreen interest at ground level.

    Be careful choosing ornamental grasses.  Some are more sturdy and architectural than others but nearly all need cutting down hard in February to let the new growth thru unhindered. 

    Have a look at Pinterest for small garden plans and photos and do check out teh RHS Plants for Pollinators.
    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • Busy-LizzieBusy-Lizzie Posts: 23,117
    I think they should all fit if you make the beds less narrow. Just make the lawn smaller. They could have curvy edges, widening where shrubs are planted.

    The Rowan could be planted more into the lawn, where it is means it would end up hanging over the neighbour's fence. I would bring the Amelanchier further forward too to make more room for the Buddleia.

    The Buddleias seem to be sitting on the fence, so move them forward. Although you can prune them down to about a foot tall each spring they will still get pretty bushy, they make a lot of growth in a year. 
    Dordogne and Norfolk. Clay in Dordogne, sandy in Norfolk.
  • PlantmindedPlantminded Posts: 3,064
    Hi @Jenny_Aster, as well as their ethereal qualities, ornamental grasses, if chosen correctly, can provide a valuable food source, shelter and nesting material for your garden visitors. Taking deciduous grasses back to ground level in early Spring is not really a daunting task.  

    Also, don't be too worried about weeding. If you top your borders with a generous mulch of chipped bark once you have completed your planting, weed seeds will have difficulty germinating, the bark will protect your plant roots from extremes of temperature in summer and winter and it helps to conserve moisture.  It also looks good, giving your garden that professional finish!
    Wirral. Sandy, free draining soil.

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