What to Plant-So much choice

I am looking, once again for some advice please. I live in a new build where my garden was a blank canvas. I have manage to establish a very healthy lawn and left some flower beds when intially laying the turf with the view to start planting once the winter was over and the nicer weather came. My dilemma now is that everytime a walk into a garden centre i am totslly overwhelmed by the amount of choice. I just don't have enough experience of gardening to know what to plant. Hence this thread. What i would like: A colourful garden all year round with shrubbery and eye catching plants which require little maintenance so i can't get it wrong. My Garden: South facing and very heavy clay soilthanks in advance for your help.


  • WateryWatery Posts: 388

    Scott, people on this site will recommend lots of different plants for you.   I was in your position, also being new to the country and new to gardening.   What I did was read, read, read.  I got gardening books at the library and I spent lots of time on the internet reading articles.  I knew I wanted a cottage garden/wildlife garden so that helped.  I changed my mind lots of times about what permanent plants I wanted. 

    I would recommend  being patient.   I think that buying bare root shrubs in the autumn is the most reliable/economical way of acquiring them and that gives you some time to think about what you want.

    I'm still very new to gardening and only allow myself a certain number of perennial plant purchases a year for economic reasons but in the meantime, I plant lots of annuals. 

    Your situation sounds ideal.  You will want to be improving your clay with organic matter but clay actually is quite fertile.

    My plant recommendation (again depending on what you like) is something I just tried this year:  spring bulbs (crocus, daffodil, tulips) planted in the same place as hardy geranium (I have brookside and Rozanne).  The geraniums are not showing while the bulbs are out but now that they are dying back, the geranium foliage is returning and last year, those two varieties of hardy geranium flowered for me from May/June to October.

    But again, I would recommend colourful and easy direct sow annuals for the first year and look at lots of pictures of types of things you might want.  --

    Or go for it and take a plunge but be flexible about deciding you don't like it and try again! Have fun.

  • LizzybusyLizzybusy Posts: 87

    I have done 5 new builds - made mistakes in all of them but easy to rectify.

    Start at the fences and put in shrubs and climbers to cover the fences/walls. Then mid height then low and ground cover at the front next to the grass. My favourite book is The Flower Expert book by Dr Hessayon - love all his books too. That will tell you best plants for clay/south facing etc.

    Visit Poundland and Wilkinsons for cheap plants - super range at the moment!! be quick though as they don't look after them in Poundland and check they have not dried out when you buy them.

  • Singing GardenerSinging Gardener EssexPosts: 818

    Hi Scott, you could see if there are some local gardens you can visit to get some ideas of what you like. Or just look around at what grows well locally and take some pictures which you can post on here for the experts to identify!

  • OldtykeOldtyke Posts: 155

    I'm a big fan of open gardens, they usually have plants for sale very cheaply (and cream teas!)

    Watch Gardeners world, and The Beechgrove garden. They usually visit a garden.

    It's recommended to plant 1/3 evergreen/grey plants so you have something to cheer you in winter.

    Your tastes will change. I remember Geoff Hamilton creating a bed of hostas, and thinking why is he doing that, they're just leaves.image. Now I adore them!

  • autumngloryautumnglory Posts: 249

    The problem with asking other people to plan your garden is it's a bit like asking someone else to decorate your house; you might love it but you might hate it! Do some research into what you like and get some gardening magazines. I found Pinterest useful for keeping ideas together. It is overwhelming to just try to walk into a garden centre and try to choose. You need to plan first so you know what you're getting!

    I was in your shoes and I spent a good few months researching.Oldtyke is right that you'll change your mind a few times! I decided that I wanted colour in every season and I wanted lots of different foliage colours. I like a structured look and for everything to look neat. You might like it to look a bit wild with lots of perennials.

    In the end I tried to pick plants for interest in each season. I chose japanese maples for foliage colours and autumn colour and prunus for spring blossom and autumn colour. I've got quite a few dwarf conifers for winter interest and different colours (careful though, dwarf isn't always small) and pieris for year round foliage and spring colour. I also love berberis for all the different colours and I've picked male and female skimmias for the winter buds/berries and nandina for evergreen colour. There are also lots of grasses with colour, my favourites are festuca glauca and imperata red baron.

    The first step is to find out what you like, then find out where the sun is in your garden. There's no point planting sun loving plants in the shade! It'll take some time but it's more rewarding to plan it and get it exactly how you want it. image

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 54,525

    Plantpots - that's cheeky!  This website is provided free of charge by a business which is dependent for its income on advertising - therefore all advertising has to be paid for.  It's not on to sneak in a link to your own business - it's not fair to the website and it's not fair to the businesses who pay for their advertising. image

    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

  • graham10graham10 Posts: 86

    Thankyou Lizzybusy just purchased Dr hessayons flower expert book I look forward to reading it.

  • Thank you all so much for your advice! I'm feeling pretty confident with what I'd like to produce now. I will definitely be visitng some open gardens to try and get further inspiration. 


    Thanks again

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