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Help under conifer please

turmericturmeric Posts: 825

Hello, my friend has a conifer in her south facing border (about 10 feet tall) and is struggling to make the ground under it 'pretty'.  The soil is bereft of nutrients and as dry as sand (with a similar consistancy!).  Any suggestions? She'd like small flowers (pinks/purples?) rather than ivy ivy ivy!  I was thinking creeping phlox or dianthus but would be grateful for suggestions.  Many thanks.


  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 83,797

    Give the area a good load of farmyard manure or home-made garden compost to improve it as much as you can initially, then I'd go for one of the Lamium maculatums - 'Beacon Silver' is a good one, a spreader with silver leaves and pinky-purple flowers. 

    It'll need watering until it's established, probably throughout the first summer, but once it gets going it'll spread happily.  However it's easy to remove so won't become invasive. 


    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • turmericturmeric Posts: 825

    What a lovely suggestion. I've taken a look online and it looks very promising - pretty in pink, not too invasive and reasonably easy to source.  Thanks Dovefromabove.

  • BookertooBookertoo Posts: 1,306

    Another option is containers, then you can ring the  changes with whatever you want to see there.  Not much will actually grow as the tree is taking everything out of the ground.  Troughs with pretty mixtures can save such a patch from dark dullness very well. 

  • LoxleyLoxley Posts: 5,228

    I'm assuming this is one of those upright conifers.

    I'd go with something pretty that will trail / spread a bit, allowing it to be planted a little bit further away where there is less dryness and competition. You could plant something like Geranium 'Anne Folkard' about a metre or so away, and they will easily spread to cover the ground in that dry problem area. Still, water them very thoroughly to get them going, and dig oversized planting holes incorporating compost/well rotted manure as mentioned above. 

    You could do something similar with some of the herbaceous Clematis, if you need them to spread a bit further. Although they're not mad on dryness...

  • turmericturmeric Posts: 825

    Thanks to everyone.  Have been out and purchased half a dozen lamium maculatum Red Nancy and three Geranium Sanguineum Striatum. Both said they will tolerate the dry conditions and neither are too high (the height is limited under the conifer). And they both have pretty pink flowers, one darker, one much lighter.  Hopefully she will be pleased and it will be a success. Time will tell..!  Thanks again to all who helped.

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 83,797

    Let us know how it goes image

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

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