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Advice needed - newbie gardener

Hi all,

I've just bought my first flat and it has a small yard garden in the side return of the house which has raised beds built into it. The slight problem is that the yard is North-West facing and gets very little direct sunlight, possibly almost none in the winter months. The other slight problem is that while I'm very keen to learn I have basically no gardening knowledge to speak of.

Does anyone have any suggestions at all for plants which would cope well in smallish, shady beds and might survive being tended by a near incompetent? I would be incredibly grateful for any advice or suggestions you can offer.




  • Ladybird4Ladybird4 Posts: 36,185

    Hi E10Newbie. There are lots of pretty ferns with different leaf shapes and colours and plants of the Geranium phaeum family - with several different colours of flowers will survive happily there. Don't muddle this hardy geranium group with the colourful and cheerful summer bedding plants which are actually properly called pelargoniums. Both these suggestions are very easy to look after.

    Cacoethes: An irresistible urge to do something inadvisable
  • ecokidecokid Posts: 138

    Good suggestions Ladybird. Congratulations on your first home!  Firstly, i'd mix in some mulch into the raised bed and also top with wood chippings as that will improve moisture, which raised beds tend to lack. Alongside ferns and geraniums, I'd also look at planting some pumonaria, which comes in either white (sissinghurst), blue (trevi fountain) or red flowering types (raspberry splash). It has attactive foliage and flowers early spring. Another plant id get would look to get is dicentra aka  "bleeding heart" (which comes in pink, red or white flowering, which has  and flowers during spring). Both  plants prefer shade and need little fuss as long as you make sure the bed doesnt dry out during the summer.

    Last edited: 16 August 2016 07:33:08

  • ButtercupdaysButtercupdays Posts: 4,407

    For something to look at in winter you need evergreens. 

    Pieris japonica Little Heath makes a tidy small shrub that is very well behaved as long as it has acid soil. It has prettily variegated leaves of green, white and pink and will grow happily in a pot with ericaceous compost.

    Euonymus are useful as they are easy to trim to size and can either be kept as a small bush or if planted near a fence or wall will grow upwards. They cling a little but are nowhere near as rampant or unmanageable as ivy and can easily be kept within bounds. Try Silver Queen, pretty green and white variegation, or Emerald and Gold which is as is name suggests. Both will brighten up a dark shady corner and provide good companions for some spring bulbs like dwarf daffodils and snowdrops.

    Bergenias have their own flowers in spring and fairly large, shiny, spoon-shaped leaves for a good contrast. There are lots of varieties, with flowers in white, pink or red and many of them have leaves that turn shades of red in winter.

    Heucheras keep some leaves over winter and again there are many varieties in a dazzling array of leaf colours, do some research and pick one or two you fancyimage

    All these combine well with the plants Ladybird and Ecokid have  suggested. You could also add one or two of the smaller Hostas for some different leaf interest in summer. Again many varieties to choose from, but do check the eventual size, some are monstersimage

    Last edited: 16 August 2016 07:54:18

  • Thank you all, these ideas are incredibly helpful. I really appreciate it. If anyone has any other suggestions I'd love to hear them. 

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