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Under a conifer

I have a small shady garden - north facing - with a large conifer in one corner. I would like to keep the tree, which was here when we moved in 3yrs ago, as it provides us with privacy from a road. To help get some light into the garden, I have taken off the lower branches up to around 5ft from the ground but I'm now looking for perennial evergreen plants that would grow well around the base. The soil is heavy clay and very rooty from the tree. Do you think I could find anything, or is it a lost cause.... should I just create a gravel garden?


  • ritnaritna Posts: 39

    hi there...shrubs or flowers? or both? 

  • Good question! Both would be good - shrubs interspersed with flowers would be perfect!

  • Busy-LizzieBusy-Lizzie Posts: 23,165

    It is very difficult to get anything to grow under a conifer as they have lots of roots near the surface that steal all the water. One plant that I have that does grow under a conifer and is evergreen is periwinkle (Vinca). Mine is Vinca Minor with lavender blue flowers and it's a bit of a thug to keep from spreading into the rest of the border, but you can get bigger leaved and flowered ones, Vinca Major and there is also a variegated one.

    As for shrubs, I have a euonymous fortunei, Silver Queen (I think) under a conifer that is managing OK.

    Dordogne and Norfolk. Clay in Dordogne, sandy in Norfolk.
  • sotongeoffsotongeoff Posts: 9,802

    Rather that trying to get plants established in the soil-why not use containers and you can keep ringing the changes?

  • Thanks both - some good ideas there. I will experiment!

  • We've a conifer hedge which was there when we bought the house and it provides good privacy from the neighbour.. I have a border alongside it and I've also got vinca which I'm currently trying to tame as it has run away with itself. There's also hypericum which covers well. I've also got lots of flowers which do fine

  • Dandelions.

  • Zoomer44Zoomer44 Posts: 3,267

    I had two huge conifers in my garden as tall as the house.

    This doesn't answer your Q as the plants aren't evergreen but blue bells, strawberries and chinese lanterns grew for Britain in their roots.

  • I have a large conifer in the corner of a south facing garden. The soil underneath is like dust. For years everything I planted lasted a week or so and then slowly died even I watered every day. My solution was to buy a couple of builders buckets from B&Q £2 each. I drilled a few holes in the bottom and added stone chippings for drainage.I dug two holes and inserted the buckets and backfilled around with soil. The Buckets were filled with good quality compost with the surrounding soil and Bark covering the edges. I can now plant anything that requires a sunny position as long as I remember to water the roots of the conifer cannot push through the side of the buckets. I also use the bucket method for my tulips. Once they are finished I pull up the buckets with the bulbs inside and move then out of site whilst the stems rot down.

  • nutcutletnutcutlet Posts: 27,366

    good thinking Leeimage

    In the sticks near Peterborough
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