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Soil Problem

I have a south-facing shaded border in my garden, where practically nothing grows, apart from weeds and my daffodils!


Last year I planted a hydrangea there. Within a short space of time it started to look sick, so I moved it to another border, where it is flourishing. I've also planted a japonica there, which I will have to move because that is looking decidedly sick.

I have a rosemary shrub there which will have to come out because it is dying. My lavender, which I planted there last year has died.

I have ordered a soil testing kit to see what type of soil I have. But what on earth is going on with the soil? I've never known anythiing like it! Can anybody help? It is the only border which has problems.image


I should point out that a couple of years ago, before I moved in to my flat, there was ivy growing in that soil. Could that be to blame? Or is there something else in that particular patch of soil which is causing the problem?




  • Busy-LizzieBusy-Lizzie Posts: 22,619

    Could the previous occupier have used a strong weedkiller to try to get rid of the ivy, which is very resistant to weedkillers?

    Dordogne and Norfolk. Clay in Dordogne, sandy in Norfolk.
  • nutcutletnutcutlet Posts: 27,299

    What makes this south facing border shady Kerry. If it's a tree the soil will be rooty and dry, the hydrangea wouldn't like that. Rosemary and lavender like sun. Give us a few more details and you'll be inundated with suggestions for things that will grow there.

    In the sticks near Peterborough
  • Hi, the reason it is shady is because it backs on to a church, which obviously is tall, so it's in the chuch's shadow x

  • Chris 7Chris 7 Posts: 102

    I'd gues either weed killer / chemicals in the bed or shade / dry.

    Why not put some shade loving plants in the bed ?


  • Ok, assuming it's the weedkiller/ chemical problem, how would I deal with this?


    And what would be the best plants to grow here? x

  • nutcutletnutcutlet Posts: 27,299

    I think it may be your choice of plants Kerry. Weeds and daffodils won't grow if the land's poisoned. Hydrangeas can be fussy and japonica (assuming that's chaenomeles) always looks yellow and sick for me. If you've got a difficult piece of land you need easy plants. Easy plants can be identified by looking to see what grows well in your area or by what sells in number and cheaply at the GCs. If chaenomeles is yellow you're not acid so don't be tempted by rhododendrons and the like.

    Try shade lovers (or those that put up with it). Foxgloves, aquilegias, lots of hardy geraniums. The evergreen variegated euonymus put up with anything. Lonicera pileata, hollies and lots more. 

    I've got a lot of shade and can list shade plants til you get bored. Let me know if you want some more suggestions.

    In the sticks near Peterborough
  • oooh thanks nutcutlet! Yes lots of suggestions would be very welcome! x

  • marshmellomarshmello Posts: 683

    Hosta's and ferns like shade and look great when established. However, slugs/snails like Hosta's too, so some maintance maybe required.

  • nutcutletnutcutlet Posts: 27,299

    Hi Kerry, for early on, snowdrops, hellebores, sarcocca (several species, all good), Cyclamen coum. 

    A bit later, pulmonarias, epimediums
    Later on, hostas and ferns as marshmello says. Various corydalis, Lily of the valley, Astrantia, I think i said geraniums before but G. macrorrhizum is a good ground cover for shade, comes in colours from white through pinks to magenta

    Even later, Aster divaricatus, strobilanthes, 

    And in late summer/autumn, Cyclamen hederifolium. 

    Fillers in like forget me nots and honesty will do OK in shade

    Will that do to be going on with?

    In the sticks near Peterborough
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 53,955

    Great tips from everyone. Also if it's possible to build up the border a little or create more of a slope and add plenty of manure etc it may give you more scope? I had a similar problem in my last garden as there was a corner which had been used to dump grass clippings and rubbish. It was impossible to clear it so we adapted it by adding to it and creating a bigger slope which we planted up quite sucessfully (rabbits apart!)

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

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
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