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LatimerLatimer Latimer, BuckinghamshirePosts: 593
Hello all.

This might be quite long, sorry!

We moved into our house almost 2 years ago now and one of the first things I did was to rip out the existing overgrown garden. Although it was full of some lovely shrubs and plants, it had no open space at all, and the sloping bottom section was a mass of weeds and brambles. As a family of 6, it wasn't going to work so I bit the bullet and ripped everything out. I wanted a blank canvas, this was my first garden and I wanted it to be mine.

I deliberated a lot over the general plan of the garden, starting out with it soft and curvy but my natural tendency towards minimal straight lines taking over. I knew I wanted to have the sloped section at the back terraced and decked for a seating area, linked with the dining area and house, so it made sense to go straight. I have my doubts daily though as to whether or not it was a good idea.

So here is the plan I have gone for and what I have planted so far:

My thought process and therefore the main central bed was very much influence by the "New Perennial Movement" and Lucy Bellamy's book Wild and Beautiful. And although I'm sure the bed in itself will look good eventually, I have begun to realise that the garden as a whole was falling flat and that a lot more was needed than a bed with some nice grasses and perennials. The biggest issue I could see was the lack of height. So now I am starting to plan the planting with a bit more thought.

These are 2 of the views that most concern me, one from the dining area where we will spend a lot of time (hopefully) the other through the patio door, the main view from the living room. I am starting to realise, watching the rate at which the perennial bed is growing, that there will be a good few months through spring where there will be a serious lack of interest from that view.

So the first element is to add trees:

The idea here is to add trees directly into the sightline from the living room, the Amelanchier adding structural interest (I like multi stem trees) and also breaking the sightline from the dining area, the Malus adding spring blossom, the Gledista is a tree at my parents that I really like. I've also kept those last 2 deliberately close to the sunken decking area as I want that bit to have a woodland feel and want the height over it. The beech hedge will block off the veg patch from view and create a small opening.   

Next is the shrub and climbing layer:

This is the one I am struggling with the most. I just don't know enough plants. The climbing hydrangea I like the look of and is suitable to go on the north side of that fence the with Fatsia Japonica adding some structural interest.

The clematis on the cedar screen to add some green to the screen without smothering it. I'm also considering topiary in front of the screen at varying heights to break it.

On the decking I have 2 large planters into which I will put Phyllostachys nigra to screen off that back area and create a "room".

Other than that I'm stumped. I'm not sure if it needs more or not.

Finally the plants:

The plan is to fill the second bed with more of the grasses and plants from the first bed. I'd like the path leading to the steps to be softened and thought something on either side spilling over onto the path, using the Molinia caerulea and Perovskia "Blue Spire" that I have already planted in the main bed.

So that is my thought process so far. I'd love to hear any input anyone might have as I am by no means an expert and my lack of plant knowledge is really showing! This is all assuming of course that someone actually read down this far! :smile:

I may keep this updated as and when I add things.



  • Lizzie27Lizzie27 Bath, SomersetPosts: 6,882
    edited June 2020
    @ London_to_Latimer Looks good to me and obviously a lot of thought has gone into your plan. A couple to points:-  The only plant I don't think would do well is your climbing hydrangea on a fence, it needs a lot of room when it gets going and is more suitable for a house wall. You could also think about planting spring bulbs under your main bed which will blossom before the grasses start to regrow. 

    If that is your eucalyptus, you do realize they can get to 70ft? I would take that out asap. If you want one of those, the only way to keep it under control with the attractive juvenile foliage is to cut it back every year without fail.

    Finally, take your time, gardening is a slow process and you should enjoy the journey, you don't need to do it all at once. You will keep changing your mind about the planting and some plants will do well and some won't, so learn to go with the flow.
    Good luck and please do keep updating us. I love to see a project. 
  • edhelkaedhelka GwyneddPosts: 1,653
    I like the before but I understand what do you mean by it not working for you. The design looks good, the work done so far also looks good and I think your thinking about this and your research is also good.
    If you are unsure, do the parts you are sure about and live with it for some time. You will get more ideas when the space is more finished and when you can see where the issues are.
    Whatever you will do, it won't be perfect and you will be changing things and improving. This is something that can always be done. TV shows often show garden design as one time do it and done thing but it's a lie, it's a process.
  • LatimerLatimer Latimer, BuckinghamshirePosts: 593
    edited June 2020
    @Lizzie27 thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

    Here's the Eucalyptus, I think we already jumped the ship with that one! It was here when we got here and although it's not the greatest example, I kind of liked it. It bends around in a storm and scares my wife! But it is also the perfect roosting place for pigeons and parakeets who like to decorate my decking 😒 so it's swings and roundabouts.

    I'll have a dig through the RHS site again for alternatives to the hydrangea. Do you think I should stick to a climber or something else in that spot? 

    I'll also get some bulbs in the ground. I had planned for Alliums but will possible add some tulips too.

    @edhelka thanks for your reply. I actually really liked the before also..... But I didn't love it! I work in the building trade and more often than not, it's less work to rip out all the electrics and plumbing and start again thank it is to try and work around the mess that's there 😀. I do wish I had know then what I do now and I've have attempted some cuttings before tearing it all out.

    The hardest part for me is knowing it could take 5 years to get to where I want the garden to be. I've never dealt with such slow projects before, it's a good test!
  • what about a Pyracantha for your North facing wall? I am going to try one in my garden as looks like it would provide extended seasonal interest with both flowers and berries - also very good for the bees.
  • ButtercupdaysButtercupdays Posts: 3,324
    edited July 2020
    And birds! Safe roosting and nesting place.
  • LatimerLatimer Latimer, BuckinghamshirePosts: 593
    @NewbiePlantAddict I actually have a pyracantha at the front of my house, it's vicious!! 🤣 I have considered it for there too but wanted to spread my wings and try something different
  • Beaus MumBeaus Mum Posts: 3,540
    All looks fantastic so far 👏 
    I would before planting anymore paint the fence dark grey or black. I think it will suit your design really well and is a beautiful back drop to the plants you will grow.
    for now I would leave the screen as looks really good especially once your bed of grasses and perrenials picks up and you will see it through them. 
    For height have you looked at verbena bonariensis, shrubs I would choose hydrangea paniculata. 
    Not too good on climbers but as you are so good at woodwork maybe make some modern looking obelisks (same timber as screen) and then scramble up some beautiful climbers, roses or clematis. 
    I look forward to seeing what you do next 😊

  • LatimerLatimer Latimer, BuckinghamshirePosts: 593
    Thanks @Beaus Mum! I've actually started painting the fence black already! 😀

    I'll take a look at the hydrangea suggestion, the Verbena I already have. Obelisks also sound like a great idea!
  • LatimerLatimer Latimer, BuckinghamshirePosts: 593
    So, a question for all of you gardeners out there that have already done this: once you have your design on paper, how did you go about implementing it, especially on a budget?

    l've done the hard landscaping bit, now it's the planting. Did you go area by area? or did you start with trees then shrubs and then the other plants? or did you just do it randomly? my current feeling is to get the trees in (come autumn) and any shrubs around the boundary. But that means that no one area will be completed in any meaningful way.

    l know there is probably no right or wrong way to go about it but would appreciate any input.

    Thanks all,
  • Bee witchedBee witched Scottish BordersPosts: 672
    Hello @London_to_Latimer,

    I think your plan to get the trees and shrubs in first in Autumn is the right one.
    Maybe also your bulbs, as that will be the correct time to plant them (mark where you've put them).

    To stretch your available funds a bit further you could buy some of the perennials you want, but maybe just buy one of each.  Then either split and pot on until they bulk out, or plant out the split pieces if big enough. It's usual to plant perennials in 3s or 5s ... so by just buying one and splitting you'll save money .... but you will need to be patient.

    Or, see if you can grow any of them from seed .... even cheaper.

    Good luck with it all.

    Bee x
    Bees must gather nectar from two million flowers to make one pound of honey   
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