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Newbie with lots of questions

Hi all... Im a gardening newbie and need lots of help. Im sure i will have endless questions once i get properly stuck in, but for now, just a few to get started!

Until this year, ive  been limited to containers and balconies,  but thanks to a house move, ive now got a front and back garden to fill, and cant wait to get started.

Front garden....

currently grass in good condition, with one border with 2 healthy acers, one at either end. need something colourful to go between... ideally id like something annual (i think?) and relitively easy / hardy. although the front garden is south facing, and very sunny, its still Belfast so can be shady, and this border is against a small wall (maybe 3ft tall). ideas?

the other side of the front garden has another 2 acers, both in seperate corners, in dug out square beds. Im thinking id like something that provides ground coverage and a pop of colour, but would the shade of the acers restrict it?

i love the wildflower cottage garden look, and half fancy just throwing mixed seeds around the borders to see what appears, but surely it cant really be that easy?

back garden

back is decked and paved, decking is fine, paving is ugly mismatched slabs that i cant afford to replace as yet. running along one side of the decking, against a fence, is a 1ft wide flowerbed, empty, in horrible waterlogged condition. it gets sun in the evening, but its also shaded by a rowan tree, it looks quite pitiful really... is there anything that would love those conditions?

along the next side of the decking there is a gap of about 8'' width and maybe 6'' deep where my neighbour installed a new fence, leaving a gap against the deck. In my head, im wanting to fill that gap with earth and have a pretty colourful little ground coverage plant in there... but in reality it will only have 6'' of depth to grow in, although its a good 15ft long... again, is there anything that would like to live in this wee spot? also partially shaded by the rowan in summer, but gets more sunlight than the other side.

sorry for the long post, but i just really want to get this right and make the most of my little part of the planet! Thanks in advance!



  • oops.. forgot a few!

    If i wanted to dig another bed to join the one existing in the front garden, when should i do that? should i be feeding or fertilising the beds already there, and what should i use?

  • nutcutletnutcutlet Posts: 27,158

    Hi Loganberry, welcome

    I find it hard to visualise gardens without a photo. Have you got any?

    You can upload them starting from the green tree in the tool bar above the typing box or you can put in a link to anywhere else you keep your photos.

    In the sticks near Peterborough
  • BiljeBilje Posts: 740

    The foot wide border founds as if it would suit Hostas they like shade and moist soil, just watch out for slugs, I have two hosta beds on the shady side of my house. over the years I've planted snowdrops and small daffodils between the Hostas. Hostas die away in Autumn and the bulbs grown in Spring giving a lovely show. Two displays for one area of ground...Jean

  • Busy-LizzieBusy-Lizzie Posts: 21,710

    I find it hard too, without a photo. Click on the green oak tree symbol and be guided how to post a photo, if you have one in your picture files. It takes a bit of time to work so patience.

    By all means, if you have a sunny, bare bed sow some hardy annuals, like calendulas, nigella (love in a mist), Californian poppies, clarkia, lavatera, cornflowers, poppies, godetia, poached egg plant etc. Rake to make a tilth, divide into sections, you can use a trickle of sand, or even flour to see what you are doing and sow each variety into a section. Sow in lines so that the seedlings in lines you will know aren't weeds. Then you will have some colour for this year while you decide more long term what to do with your garden. Sometimes you need to live with a garden and find out about it and what comes up. There may be perennials already planted.

    Look up on google about plants for damp shade, there are quite a few, hostas, rodgersia, dicentra spectabilis, actaea, monarda, Solomon's seal, astilbe. It would help to add some compost, especially if the damp soil is sticky. But will it still be damp in summer? There's been a lot of rain.

    If you want an instant fix in that gap by the decking then fill it with compost and plant it with violas which you should find in your garden centre. It will be pretty until around May/June, while you think about what to do next and if it works.

    Dordogne and Norfolk. Clay in Dordogne, sandy in Norfolk.
  • 4thPanda4thPanda Posts: 4,145

    Another thought for your gap, sweet peas. My dad planted some in a similar gap and they did well. I am no gardening expert so there could be all sorts of reasons why this may not work. 

  • Thanks guys! I will defo get some pics for u, probably be Wednesday before I'm home in daylight hours! Love the ideas, lots of research to start now!

    I want it to be spring already so I can start!
  • Orchid LadyOrchid Lady Posts: 5,800
    Welcome loganberry hut, I'm a newbie too so can't really advise bit just wanted to say hello. This forum is great and I've learnt so much in just a few days.

    Busy-Lizzie, I love poached egg plant but can never find it, what is it's proper name?
  • We moved in last May, so I've seen it through the seasons since then. Didn't have time to sort anything outdoors then, so all I've done is remove the weeds and plastic sheeting from the border, and mow the lawn! Hopefully I'll get some pics in the morning.. Depends on my 4 year olds pre school run mood lol!

    The back garden looks grim at this time of year, I'm almost embarrassed to show you, only saving grace is that I'm not responsible for any of it, and hopefully it's the last year it will look so miserable!

    On a side note..I always grow container strawberries, which have done well... Was planning to grow them in an upright pallet this year... Anyone tried it? Plan to staple some landscaping fabric to the back and sides to contain it all, how does that sound?
  • archiepemarchiepem Posts: 1,155


     this was my daughters new house back garden last june . 

  • Busy-LizzieBusy-Lizzie Posts: 21,710

    Poached Egg Plant is Limnanthes douglasii, Tracey. Thompson and Morgan sell the seeds, I'm sure others do too.

    Dordogne and Norfolk. Clay in Dordogne, sandy in Norfolk.
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