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Shrub help for empty border

CopperdogCopperdog Posts: 546


hello everyone I have just taken out a row of spindly leaf dropping photinia that I planted around 8 years ago. I need to replace with some shrubs really - need to get better at getting shrubs! I always go for the cheaper pretty perennials which make the garden look so bare iN winter. bed is about 4ft deep and east facing. there is a plum tree that saps the moisture so would say it's fairly dry shade. Was thinking about arrocccoa at back and then not sure how much room to leave before putting something in front of it? than in advance of any suggestions ????. 


  • Sarcococca will do for a start, but towards the middle or front. Look at elaeagnus 'Limelight' or 'E. 'Coastal Gold' for the back, skimmia japonica 'Kew Green' and the perhaps some hellebores for the middle/front and periwinkle over the front edge?


  • CopperdogCopperdog Posts: 546

    Thanks for your help  Hortum, is the sarcococca too small to be at the back?  Is the eleagnus like euonymous Or is that a larger shrub? 

  • CopperdogCopperdog Posts: 546

    Thank you both for such good advice.  Is there any advantage of using the Eleagnus over the eunonymous?  I have 2 eunonymous presently which seem very slow growing. I def don't want fast growing (around 4ft would be good?) but dont want something like the photinia that drops lots of leaves.  they also went very leggy too. Have read up on the elegance now and the conditions def suit it.  Just wasn't sure how much upkeep etc it would demand.  This border is down the far end of the garden so isn't really seen from October to March.  PS the choisya looks good too is that suited more to a mounded shape or would I get a sort of hedge backdrop from that?

  • IamweedyIamweedy Posts: 1,364

    Copperdog. I thought that picture was of my garden for a moment. My border and fence look just like that.

    I never thought I would be saying this but how about the new varieties of Hydrangea? I saw these at the Gardeners World live show last summer. They have some lovely varieties now. Except for some multicoloured ones which quite frankly look "unwell"

    I used to really dislike those sad looking pink or blue Hs in front gardens.

    I now have an Annabelle and a Pink frills and White frills  to sit in the slightly shady border and keep the weeds shaded out. All "babies" at present though they need to get a better root system going before I plant them out.

    'You must have some bread with it me duck!'

  • TopbirdTopbird Posts: 7,882

    Definitely agree with the suggestions to look at the different Eleagnus varieties. I particularly like ebbingei but (as Tetley says) it is vigorous - one I planted 3 years ago is already 2m high - but the leaves are a nice foil for other plants. I will be pruning mine hard each spring and am considering planting a Group 3 rich-purple clematis to grow through it - we will see if that works or not...

    I also like the idea of the yellow or other variegated eunonymous - they will brighten that border in winter.

    Other shrubs to look at might include Viburnum Tinus and various Pittosporums. The Viburnum is covered with scented flowers early in the year and can either grow into a tree sized shrub or responds well to hard pruning / trimming (I do mine alternate years) to keep it to a bushy 2m high shrub.

    There are many different Pittosporums which form anything from low shrubs to full trees. But, again, they can be kept well trimmed (once a year) to form a tidy shrub of the size you want.

    As a general rule (and depending on how long that border is) I would go for 2 or 3 larger evergreens interspersed with some others to grow up the fence or to be kept as lower / tidily shaped shrubs (I would include the excellent sarcococca in that last group) and then all under planted with bulbs / hardy geraniums / hellebores - whatever takes your fancy.


    Heaven is ... sitting in the garden with a G&T and a cat while watching the sun go down
  • raisingirlraisingirl Posts: 6,642

    A small ceanothus if it's not too windy there - bright splash of early colour? There's a dwarf philadelphus too - amazing summer scent.

    “Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first” 
  • CopperdogCopperdog Posts: 546

    Thank you all so much for your input.  I hadn't realised you had all made further comments..I was just reading SandTs comments and was thinking how encouraging the remarks were about north facing gardens! I had thought of hydrangeas iamweedy but wondered if it might be a little too dry at times as there is that plum tree that saps the moisture.  Have a small one up the top end of the border which hasn't really done anything at all.  I think it doesn't like being under the canopy of the plum but I could try one further down the end as intend to move that composter and put it next to the tree so that as you walk down the garden you don't see the dalek straight away!  Im a fan of hydrangeas too so all good image

    I dont def dont want something that will get out of hand.  If I could tilt the camera back to the left of the tree trunk there is a huge laurel that I fight to keep in a sort of very large ball shape but it is around 6ft tall and wide.  Im trying to hang on to a bit of structure in the garden as the bed opposite it is full of perennial and self seeded forget me nots which will all look quite untidy now but lovely in a month or so but then not not particularly great again as there is no body to the bed and Im finding It is giving me more work.  image I cant see the lawn and these beds from the back kitchen window. We only start to use this part of the garden in spring summer as we have a large decked area at the bottom where the table and chairs is (bit like SandT) we have no morning sun around the kitchen patio.  I will have a look at the Eleagnus limelight as Hortum mentioned that one too.  I will also look at the Pittosporums too thanks Topbird.  I dont know about the soil but assume it is sort of neutral.  My husband loves Rhodos but we have had to put that in a bit pot with its acid loving compost as ours def isn't ericaceous hence cant really choose skimmias which i like but an only have in pots.  I try and post a couple more pics..  Many thanks everyone for your input. much appreciated.

  • CopperdogCopperdog Posts: 546

    imageimageimagelast pic is the sunnier border and no structure at all. It'll all be a foot or two higher shortly but I feel I must choose some better shrubs. From all your helpful comments i certainly have a much clearer idea of what to choose now.  Think I'll look in the garden centre first just to browse but I may do an online order for first time as I know I'll end up coming home with nothing like what I've gone there for! Or I'll pick up the wrong variety of something that wants to grow 10ft tall !! 

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