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Planting in a very formal courtyard bed

Planting ideas welcome. 

I have a 4m x 4m stone built raised bed in a very formal courtyard of block paving, lawns and box hedging.  It has a central plinth and sundial. At the moment it simply has gravel.  I am thinking about planting the bed to give some cross seasonal colour and a bit of height, either by or by putting some large tubs/pots in the bed or by choosing shrubs for the bed.  Any suggestions? 

It has to be in keeping with a very formal garden and not need too much tending although we have an automatic watering system.



  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 79,566

    Hello Gally Pete image

    What's the soil like, and which way does the courtyard face?  How much sun does it get each day in the summer?


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

  • pansyfacepansyface PEAK DISTRICT DerbyshirePosts: 20,554


     Something along these lines?

    I have to say, formal in my mind equals hard work. At least harder work than informal.image

    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
  • image


  • Picture above, it is in the centre!

  • No soil, but w ecan put some in if need be at the moment it is bring ends with a dressing of gravel.

  • Busy-LizzieBusy-Lizzie Posts: 19,209

    That looks grand. Is it your house or are you the head gardener?

    What about Lavender, Caryopteris, Abelia, Choisya Aztec Pearl or White Dazzler?

    Dordogne and Norfolk
  • We have contractors who cut the grass March-October but the box is pretty manageable (trimed twice a year) and we simply hoe around them periodically.

    It is a shared courtyard and people have discounted Lavender ( my preference) so I think they want something that has greater longevity.

    choisya aztec pearl looks impressive, how long will they live before becoming less impressive?



  • Busy-LizzieBusy-Lizzie Posts: 19,209

    It starts off quite small, well I suppose how big it is when bought would make a difference. I planted mine in 2007 and it grows a bit each year. It's not big like Choisya Ternata.

    Dordogne and Norfolk
  • TopbirdTopbird Mid SuffolkPosts: 7,237
    My initial thought was also for lavender partly because it would give a nice burst of colour & scent for a few weeks but also because it will tolerate dry conditions. I imagine that bed would be fairly dry especially in summer.

    A similar effect might be achieved with a good rich purple salvia such nemerosa 'Caradonna' - which also has attractively coloured stems. It tolerates a wide range of conditions in my garden and survives the winter well even in my heavy clay soil. The bees love it.

    Our local council have planted up roundabouts with perennials and one has been planted formally using lots of this salvia. They have punctuated the rich purple with bright yellow day lillies and phormiums and have used the hardy geranium biokovo for spring colour. The roundabout is divided into 4 identical beds separated by areas of gravel. Looks very classy.

    Lovely courtyard BTW!
    Heaven is ... sitting in the garden with a G&T and a cat while watching the sun go down
  • LoganLogan Posts: 2,532
    Gally Pete. How deep is it? What about patio roses and miniature spring bulbsimage
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