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Inspiration & advice needed!


I moved into a new build just over a year ago and am trying to change my garden from an empty box into a colourful cottage garden style haven for birds, butterflies and bees, whilst also creating some privacy between ourselves and the neighbours. 

I have recently planted lots of different types of flowering climbers along the back fence (hydrangea, roses, honeysuckle, clematis) but now want to add to life and greenery to one particular sunny corner (i say sunny, but I live near Edinburgh so it is likely to be sunny and frozen for more than a few weeks of the year). 

As the garden isn't very large, and I don't want to block out the sun or annoy the neighbours, I thought that a small flowering tree such as a lilac would be ideal for this corner. However, I am very new to gardening (but already LOVE it!) and I really am only thinking of a lilac because my parents have one, and I dont know of any other similar size trees or shrubs. I dont want it to take up too much space at ground level, hence why I was thinking tree rather than shrub (such as rodedndron). Is a buddleja a good alternative? 

Any advice or inspiration would be very gratefully received!

Thankyou in advance,


PS. Our soil is clay (I could make a pot out of it!). 


  • hogweedhogweed Posts: 4,053

    My favourite small tree is an amelanchier. Blossom in the spring and autumn leaf colour. Some of the varietal Rowans with pink or yellow berries rather than the red would be good as well. Crab apple is another small tree that would be suitable with blossom and fruit in the autumn. 

    'Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement' - Helen Keller
  • fidgetbonesfidgetbones Posts: 17,281

    I have a golden leaved Philadelphus that is bright and sunny looking, and at this time of year has a wonderful smell emanating from the flowers.  It is more shrub than tree though. Buddleja are cut down each year and flower on the current years growth, so don't provide a lot of privacy in Spring, the butterfllies like to feed on the flowers  from July onwards.  For a small tree you can underplant, how about a Robinia pseudoacacia Frisia.

  • Lfin100Lfin100 Posts: 24

    Thankyou so much already!

    I perhaps should have mentioned that later in the year I intend to plant an apple and cherry tree in another corner where I also plan to create a veggie patch, hence why I wasnt considering this time. 

    Also, I have a two year old daughter so would have to double check some of the berry trees. 

    (I only just discovered this forum and am already very glad that I did!)

  • hogweedhogweed Posts: 4,053

    My amelanchier does berry but now that you mention it I have never seen any on the ground - ever. I wonder what happens to them? It is over 10 years old now and about 10 foot tall. As it has grown I have removed lower branches to give a clean trunk. 

    'Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement' - Helen Keller
  • Lfin100Lfin100 Posts: 24

    Thankyou for letting me know, perhaps the birds get them? Which would fit with my desire to entice more birds into the garden. 

  • FireFire Posts: 17,390

    Hi Lfin,

    my thought would be to watch 'Big Dreams, Small Spaces' - which explores, through three series, exactly these questions. Many of the gardens seem very similar to yours. It's a wonderful programme, all very practical, down to earth and kind hearted. As far as I know, it's not available to buy.

  • Lfin100Lfin100 Posts: 24

    Many thanks, not only have I been watching that programme, I have also emailed asking can I be on the next series. No response yet....

    Thankyou for the tip. 

  • FireFire Posts: 17,390


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