Starting from Scratch - Shrubs Recommendations

Hi all,

I have bought a house which had a patch of mud as a garden. We've now laid sleepers for beds, decking and the new grass and I need to start planning the beds. As a newby to gardening (i've managed some pots but that's about it!!) i'm looking for any suggestions as to where to start. I think we need about 5 shrubs for the borders and 3 will be in shade and 2 in full sun. We are thinking blues and reds but perhaps that's not very imaginative!!

Any suggestions would be most welcome!!




  • SingySingy Posts: 206

    For full sun i would recommend a hibiscus, i recently bought one and although small at the moment, will eventually be a nice size.

    I bought Hibiscus Baby Blue, cost about £10, its currently in a pot until i decide where it will finally end up.  Pic below



  • SingySingy Posts: 206

    Also how much shade, total? or partial etc?

  • DaintinessDaintiness EssexPosts: 959

    Could you give us a bit more detail about your garden in order for you to get better answers. We all have our favourite shrubs but not all will be suitable for your garden so....what part of the country are you in? What is your soil like - sandy, clay etc? What is the the ph of your soil - if you don't know, look in gardens around you if there are rhododendrons and camellias growing then it will be acidic. Is you gadren exposed to high winds or a wind tunnel? What kind of feel are you after - formal or cottage garden feel ...How much shade does your shady border get? image

  • Thanks for the quick responses. We are in North London and have clay soil. I'm not sure about the ph but will have a look at the neighbours tonight. All i've spotted in their garden so far is roses.

    The garden is well sheltered and the sunny bed gets about 8 hours of sun in the summer. One the shaded side, one end doesn't get any sun (this is where we want one shrub) and the other end gets a couple of hours a day. As it is quite a small garden I think more formal (and easy to maintain) so was thinking of a few shrubs in each boarder and then some daffs and snowdrops, and winter roses have also been recommended. Hopefully that will help!!

    Gardening is very new to me as this is my first property but it's really exicting (albeit a bit overwhelming) to have a complete blank canvas!!


  • SingySingy Posts: 206

    This might help when selecting shrubs depending on what you want.

    This search has summer flowering shrubs for shaded areas


  • DaintinessDaintiness EssexPosts: 959

    Hi StanyeWest or should that be StanyeNorth - North London clay should let you grow acidic plants.

    A camellia avoiding early morning sun would be nice - evergreen shiny foliage, reds available, spring flowering (if you are near an Aldi - reaonably priced ones are usually available in the new year)

    A Nandina domestica - sprays of creamy flowers in May/June, evergreen with different coloured foliage throughout the year, red berries in winter.

    A Hibiscus for summer flowers - red available 

    Full shade - Hydrangea petiolaris is a climber that likes shade - bright green foliage in spring, white flowers in May, yellow leaves in autumn and a tracery of red brown stems in winter - it would need some support in order to help it climb but it is a lovely plant; maybe ferns - Monty Don planted some on last week's Gardeners' World. 

    I'll have a think about your shady side - I'm assuming it faces north. No sun at all not even one end or part way up your fence? I'm assuming you have a fence...

    Hope this helps.

  • Busy-LizzieBusy-Lizzie Posts: 14,226

    There is a lovely blue flowered shrub, called Caryopteris that likes sun and flowers at this time of year. There are different varieties, including a gold leaved one. It's not very tall, so it would go in the front of the border. Trouble is it prefers a well drained soil so you would have to dig in some grit and plenty of compost.

     For the shady bit and a red touch, you could try a hardy fuschia, like riccartonii.


    Dordogne and Norfolk
  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener Leicestershire, UKPosts: 8,238

    Japanese acers like Bloodgood will give a nice bit of red colour, are slow growing and pretty much maintenance-free.  They like a bit of shade as long as they don't get early morning sun (so avoid an east-facing aspect.)

    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • Thanks for all of your help. The garden is north east facing so the left hand side gets quite a bit of sun and the right hand side is mostly shade. I've attached a picture so that you can see - we went for a fairly plain design as it made laying the new turf a lot easier with straight lines!! You can't really see the right hand side board but it is pretty mucy a straight line up to the house. There was an old bay tree (I think!) left behind on the right and an apple tree on the letf so we are working around them.

    I'll got to the garden centre this weekend to get a ph kit and let you know what I find. Thanks again for all of the help - I've been watching gardeners world and reading the mag but a lot of it is a bit too advanced for a complete beginner like me!!






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