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Front garden bed

Hi I have a small rectangular bed which I dug out underneath the front window of the house - about 6ft long by about 4ft wide and it's really looking a bit untidy.

It's got lavender, Alchemilla, Convolvulus cneorum, Penstemon, Euonymus, Hebe, Gaura, Euryops and Heuchera. The Alliums which went in have died. I think I've put small numbers of too many different things in that are too many different colours and don't seem to work. I wanted something which just looked neat and tidy but colourful at the front of the house but it's looking messy.

It gets the sun most of the day and it's on clay and I'm thinking of digging things up and starting again and maybe should have done something much more simple even just 2 or 3 of the same shrub had crossed my mind.

Does anyone have suggestions or photos please of their front garden beds? 
I'd like to have some new ideas before digging it up!
Thank you  :)


  • PerkiPerki Posts: 2,496
    You possibly have to many plants and variety of plants for that size of area. As you say try and keep it simple I'd probably pick up to 5 plant variety's  not including bulbs the alliums will probably return next spring they naturally die back. A picture will of it now will help others help you more with ideas .  I'd take out ( or dead head )  the alchemillia before it self seeds everywhere it can smoother its neighbours as well. 
  • AnniDAnniD Posts: 12,469
    It sounds very like the 2 beds l have in my front garden. I would generally suggest shrubby salvias, they come in a variety of colours.
    But a lot depends on whereabouts you are, and as @Perki says a photo or two would help.
  • InBloomInBloom Posts: 68

    This is the bed. It does look a bit of a mess. Some things have done better than others but nothing really goes with eachother. I've looked online for planting plans for small beds but no luck 

    Salvia hasn't survived on the clay soil when theyve been planted before.
  • GardenerSuzeGardenerSuze Posts: 5,633
    edited August 2022
    @InBloom My front garden faces south on a clay soil. I have added lots of grit to open up the soil and make it more free draining. Depending on where you live in the country you could go for shrubs that like it hot. I think you do need some height in a small space. Use different shaped leaves and textures is also good. Squashing in enough flowers for 4 seasons isn't possible. As it is a front garden good to keep it neat and simple.

     Retired Gardener, new build garden, clay soil, South Notts.

    The more I garden the less I know but the more pleasure I get from it. Monty Don 
  • InBloomInBloom Posts: 68
    What would anyone suggest for height? 

    I think the gaura will get a bit higher in time. The window is about 3ft off the ground so don't want it higher than the window. 

    It was meant to have echinacea and allium spheracephalum in but all the alliums died and only one echinacea survived but it's tiny 
  • GardenerSuzeGardenerSuze Posts: 5,633
    @InBloom Have you added anything to improve the clay? If you are unable to have any height I think your idea of keeping it simple is good. The problem is the plants that can deal with the heat of the summer in a south facing spot hate the winter wet. Without doing something to the soil you are very limited with what you can grow. For example you might choose a group of say three small Hebes, fine in the summer but if soggy in the winter they won't survive. Gaura is short lived, shorter still in the wrong place.

    Perhaps you could consider a group of Euonymous and some grasses such as Molinia Poul x3 Petersen. E Green Pillar x3 Then fill the gaps with hardy Geranium sanguinium.
    Soil will still need attention. You will be using just three plants to which you could add some sommer colour and your border will have different shapes from the grasses and evergreens over winter. This may not be to your taste but the idea is to bring your border together.
     Retired Gardener, new build garden, clay soil, South Notts.

    The more I garden the less I know but the more pleasure I get from it. Monty Don 
  • InBloomInBloom Posts: 68
    Thank you for the ideas I will look at those later today. Compost has been dug into the soil twice over a few years and some gravel added but to be honest it hasn't made an awful lot of difference it still bakes hard in the sun and yes it's wet in winter.

    Are gaura only short lived perennials? Do you mean they get woody and need replacing? 

    I have some young Physocarpus Diablo at the back which I'd considered moving. I know they get really very big and very tall but they respond well to pruning (I think?) but I might again be back to a hotpotch of things and colours (?)

    I'm good at propagation and rubbish at design!  So finding colours, textures, heights etc that go well to make a 'finished' bed i find very difficult. I might like ten different things but end up shoving them all together when they don't compliment eachother! I'd love something colourful n simple but most of all smart looking and neat 
  • LunarSeaLunarSea Posts: 1,867
    InBloom said:

    Are gaura only short lived perennials? Do you mean they get woody and need replacing? 

    I've been trying two varieties of Gaura over the last 3 years. The only one that has survived (and only just!) is in a new island bed I dug out of the front lawn and made the soil mix for myself, using bought topsoil mixed with grit & homemade compost. Like you we're on a clay soil so that's still underneath.

    I've just ordered some Gaura lindheimeri seeds so I'll now be treating it as an annual. For your bed @InBloom I wouldn't rely on it as a perennial.
    Clay soil - Cheshire/Derbyshire border

    I play with plants and soil and sometimes it's successful

  • InBloomInBloom Posts: 68
    Do they tend to get taken by the frost?  I grew these ones from seed earlier this year, so it's their first season, but last year grew some for a friends' garden and they came again this year 
  • GardenerSuzeGardenerSuze Posts: 5,633
    @InBloom Yes you can end up with a situation where you look at a border and your eyes dash back and forth and the whole thing looks bitty? I have never tried Gaura from cuttings but as you say they can become very woody. Perhaps worth a try. I don't think you will get anywhere with alliums they grow well in soil that is on the dry side alll year.
    Perhaps you could look at some colourful leaves but plants like heuchera need a retentive soil too.
    Instead of the geraniums I mentioned may be use annuals to give colour but stick with just one or two colours.
    I have grown Physocarpus Diabolo in clay fine for a couple of years but didn't survive a wet winter.
    The problem you have is roots drowning in winter and drying out in summer. Most plants cannot cope with these types of conditions. Even tough plants like berberis and cotoneaster will struggle if very wet.
     Retired Gardener, new build garden, clay soil, South Notts.

    The more I garden the less I know but the more pleasure I get from it. Monty Don 
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