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New planting for front garden wall

Dear forum members,

I am virtually new to gardening and suddenly responsible for a house with a big back garden not much tended for ten years. I have had the front garden paved so that careworkers can park and have a biggish unplanted bed. I would like some advice as I can't make up my mind what to put in. I think some things might need planting now and some in the spring. I am not going to have the time and energy to plant much, and the house might need to be sold so I don't want to go on my taste alone.

The garden faces east and gets most light from east and south. In fact, I am tempted to put pots or growbags with tomatoes and aubergines at the left, as it's the biggest unshaded south-facing area back or front. But that's not the issue here!

Originally there was a beautyberry (I'm tempted to get another as passers-by so often commented), a big white rose (bush rose?), a rowan tree and some eryngium.

I need something low-maintenance and probably ground cover too. I don't really like creeping juniper and some other evergreens I see all round this garden suburb. I was thinking of a variegated holly.

The builder offered to put 'weed membrane' in but I said no. However, something like this might be good. I like the look of slate chippings but maybe mulch of some sort is easier to handle. I have someone to do heavy work. At the moment, all the area contains is small weeds which I intend to remove by hand and fox and cat footprints.


Many thanks in advance for any ideas.




     sorry, forgot this photo.



  • CeresCeres Posts: 2,583
    It rather depends on what type of soil you have and you cannot beat looking at neighbouring gardens to see what plants flourish in your area. As to taste, you have to look at the things and it doesn't matter if you need to sell the house sooner rather than later as long as you don't plant something so unpleasant as to put off future buyers.

    Variegated holly would make a lovely hedge and providing you have some female plants, you will get berries as well. It is fairly slow growing though.

    Evergreens don't need to be boring and there are many that have lovely flowers and berries to brighten up the garden. They also don't need to be green. Euonymous will make a lovely low hedge and doesn't need to be trimmed vigorously....the gold variety is very jolly.
  • Thanks very much.

    I definitely don't want a hedge though, but individual plants.

    The euonymous looks good. The phormiums look exactly my own taste as I'd like something geometric, but there are still a couple of loosely growing roses in the side bed so it would be a change of style. But will definitely look at those. I see we have a very big choisya at the back - didn't know what it was called. I actually think those are all the kinds of things I see in local gardens. I have been on a few walks but I couldn't make my mind up. I've had suggestions of two plants whose leaves turn red - red robin? and pieris. We've got a smoke tree at the back with dark red leaves which I like. I also have a red acer in a pot but it is not doing well so I hesitate to plant it out.

    If I had something like those santolinas, I presume I'd have mulch in between, would I?

    As for the soil, that's just what I don't know. We used to have clay soil where we lived before (are in London Borough of Havering) and we probably still have London clay. But when we first moved here I did not see really thick clay on digging. And of course the top soil has just been put there by the builder. Same goes for the other front gardens here. Euphorbias do well in the back garden, I don't know if that's evidence of anything.

    The nicest thing I've seen in neighbouring gardens is osteospermum, but I suspect that involves more work and lasts for less of the year than I want.

    Many thanks again for all suggestions.

  • FleurisaFleurisa Posts: 779

    You need to have a dig around in the soil, if it is fairly free draining you could put some lavender in. The space doesn't look very big to me, a lot of the suggestions are quite large plants

  • All round the base of the wall there is a concrete foot which extends about 6 inches, so not quite all the area is deep soil. I saw it before it was filled so otherwise I made sure there wasn't an extra layer of stones put it.

    The width in the centre is 5 ft/60 cm, and the total length about 20 ft. I am glad it is no bigger! I like lavender and thought of having some, but I have definitely been thinking of one or perhaps two slightly higher things - is this not feasible with 4 ft of deep soil?

  • LoxleyLoxley Posts: 5,565

    It's a nice little border. Yes you could easily plant something a little bit taller but to me, the space cries out for groups of lowish moundy things, perhaps with your Phormium as an 'accent plant'.

    I did our office front garden (a similar space) with a brown phormium, groups of Rosa 'White Fairy, and drifts of Rudbeckia 'Goldsturm'... with strategically placed ferns and Liriope muscari planted en masse underneath. With a mulch of chunky slate chippings. It looked very smart and was no trouble to look after.

  • wee bizzemwee bizzem Posts: 19

    I'm attaching a shot of the current state of the wall. There are three euphorbias and two phormiums. I was tempted by blue and white things but then thought green and red would work better as colours To the left of this is a small bay tree and to the right a single small callicarpa. I've read that you should have two or three callicarpas if you want the berries. The reason I put it there is because there was a big one there before and people always admired it.

    It all looks a bit thin but I don't see the need to rush. The man who does some gardening for us thinks six or eight sedums would be a good idea, but I can't visualize it.



    Comments welcome!

  • wee bizzemwee bizzem Posts: 19

    Thanks for the ideas, Verdun. Now I know what I could do for the next few years if I were staying here!

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