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creating impact with 1 narrow bed in a small urban garden

I have only 1 flower bed in our small urban garden.  It is about 50cm wide and 450 cm long and is a raised bed against the brick garden wall.  The wall is west facing and the bed gets the sun in the summer months but when the sun is lower in the sky it is mostly in shade.  It's all I've got though so does anyone have any suggestions for how to make the most of it?

Currently there are some bulbs in, a blackberry, a very happy raspberry and a winter jasmine, there's also a rose.  There is a beautiful poppy in July and that's about it.  I've tried lavender (really liked the idea of a lavender hedge with roses growing through but only one has survived... Slugs seem to be a real issue and the honeysuckle I tried is still there but only barely hanging on as a result.

I basically keep shoving stuff in but never really get the result I'm hoping for and particularly in spring don't seem to have any colour.

I'm thinking about trying to start again with a colour-scheme but it is so narrow that it's hard to get height and some interest lower down.  I want to keep the berries and the poppy but wonder if the rest should go.  I was wondering about daphne and geranium macrohrizum.

Or am I just attempting the impossible and do I need to sacrifice a bit of the (4.5 by 3.5m) lawn to get a better shape of bed and a bit more space?

Any advice gratefully received!


  • This is a plant I have flowers like a forget me Nott

    ferns are nice, polemonium good colour in summer, think mallows ok grasses always good

    try fill in details RHS website see what plants they say

    Hampshire Gardener
  • Any chance of a photo, Papachama?

  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 47,289

    Having too many bits and pieces in a small area will always be impossible to get coherent. Pick one or two favoured shrubs and repeat them along your border.You can then add bulbs for spring impact in between as well as in pots at the base of your raised bed, and pots of summer colour when they fade. Use a big statement pot in an opposite corner with a similar feel as the bed or a piece of sculpture. You can always add pots next to the house as well. You're right in choosing a colour scheme as well - keep the colours to a minimum to give impact, you can alter that with the seasons. For instance - use green foliage , white flowering shrubs and then have  your extra planting all in the same colour, perhaps  bright yellows in spring, purples in summer, reds in autumn. The background stays the same and the colour alternates throughout the year. Painting the wall a contrasting or toning colour can also help the overall look to make it a feature in itself. image


    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • Lou12Lou12 Posts: 1,149

    Yes indeed, I have a similar very narrow bed in semi shade and have plants for all seasons in it, I have bulbs that flower from February to April, then the Dicentra Alba takes over, followed by euphorbia - Ascot Rainbow - and Japanese anenomes which takes me to November in my area, the euphorbia provides winter foliage but then your winter jasmine will do that too.

    I have groups of the same plants together to avoid that one plant on it's own look. I have put in chaenomeles and evergreen clematis and also evergreen honeysuckle for height and all the others in the front, I have to espalier the climbers or they would take up too much space.

    Looks nice in all seasons.

  • Thank you for all the responses, some very sound advice.  I like the idea of shrubs and seasonal pots for colour.  I will try to take some pictures tomorrow and upload as the ones I have aren't very helpful. I have a cherry tree in the corner of the lawn opposite the bed and was thinking of putting a couple of planters next to it to frame the corner .  My daughter is desperate for a plum tree too but that's me stuffing the garden full of random stuff again.   

  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 47,289

    Walls are also useful for non planting items. If you have room and if it appealed to you,  you could have a wall mounted fountain feeding into a container within the bed. Greenery either side of it along the wall so that it's slightly hidden, and simple planting in the rest of the bed to enhance it and make it the main feature. image

    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • DimWitDimWit Posts: 553


    Snatch a foot from the lawn, and you'll have a more enticing amount of garden floor!

    If your lavenders are killed off (like mine), your garden might be too damp (ergo the 

    presence of slugs...) for Mediterranean plants (that like dry soil and full sun). Look for

    plants that also thrive in part shade, you'll have better luck. From my (sparse)

    experience, Lou12 has been very happy with the choices given.

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