Tuesday, 20 January 2009

One for all you gardeners out there

Sometimes you can have too much choice, too much information. This photo is of one of the planting areas in our back garden which is due for a major reworking this year. Trouble is, I have an idea in my head what I want it to look like, and have spent hours looking at my gardening books, sites on the internet, and now have accumulated so much 'stuff', so many ideas, I am bewildered.
The area itself is east-facing, so it gets all the morning sun once it moves past the house, and then at a certain time of day, is in shade due to the mature silver birch on the left hand side. Then, depending on time of year and day, it is also shaded towards the back by a tall pyracantha hedge. Now both of these shade-inducing plantings are staying - the pyracantha provides the back drop to what will be an entirely enclosed gravel garden, which has only evergreen, non-flowering plants, a quiet area with seating and fountain for thinking and being quiet, and apart from that, blackbirds nest in it every year and love all the berries. (Part of the pyracantha can be seen on the right of the photo, as it is taken looking across the area from the right hand side where there is a path.)
There are other plants which will stay.. a 'Bridal Wreath' which has a niche cut into it for a small statue of Ceres... three delphiniums... two peonies... alchemilla... the stinking lilies (nothing personal!)... a small shrub with delicate blue flowers and dusty green foliage whose name I have obviously forgotten, and maybe a buddleia. Going to other places are a euonymus, a tall heather, both of which can be seen in the middle of the photo. Going to the compost is an old hydrangea, lots of marjoram which has seeded itself everywhere, wallflowers, and other bits of rubbish. There is a small posh Christmas tree in a pot which can be seen in the photo, but that is being moved to a permanent position nearer the patio. There is also a large bright red crocosmia right of centre which will probably stay. If I could find a home for it, it would probably move, since see this as a mix of blues, purples, pinks, white. There are also masses of nigella seedlings which pop up, and aquilegia too.
What I see in my mind's eye is a mass of colour.... I love daisy type flowers, gerberas (though never have any luck with them so won't bother again, and verbascum don't seem to like it here either) I want a mix of flowers of different heights, propose buying them in threes or fives... mixed in with grasses and foliage, perennials mainly, something evergreen as well.
The soil is alkaline side of neutral by the way. And the size is approximately 25 feet from left to right, and twelve to fifteen feet front to back... it gets wider to the right hand side near the path.
So, anyone else growing in similar conditions who might know what goes and doesn't? All practical suggestions and ideas welcome, thank you.


WesterWitch/Headmistress said...

Can't offer you anything but envy.

Pondside said...

I'm like WW - feel like a pretender, even popping into a post that asks for gardening help, but will follow this with interest.

Mid Life Hopes said...

I have to agree with the comments left here already.
I am only a gardner "want to Be".
I know anything you decide will look lovely though.
Hope to know what you choose..
xo :) MLH

Milla said...

the blue/dusty plants could be teucrium or caryopteris.

As for new ones based on daisy flowers, anthemis are very good, the variety sauce hollandaise is as the colour suggests, and flowers for ever - seriously, about 8 months of the year here (Glos),or buy (or sow) cosmos which are annuals but dead easy to grow yourself.

You talk of getting things in 3s and 5s but it seems like there's already a lot of stuff there and it might be an idea to limit yourself, hard as it sounds, to just 2 or 3 different new varieties, in greater numbers to give it unity.

For colour, you could add splurges of annuals (godetia / clarkia is very pretty and once you have scattered californian poppies you will never be without them, although they will self-seed as orange, whatever more subtle colour you originally selected). this will also allow your perennial plants to grow but fill the gaps this year.

Scabious comes in beautiful creamy whites and gentle blues - although there is a kind sold more frequently at garden centres in a "butterfly-friendly" and meaner smaller, buttonyer shape which isn't as good as the more cottage garden type.

You have some nice uprighty shapes (delphs and crocosmia) and you could add lillies (although here, at least, lily beetle, that bright red menace, makes it a risky purchase). Or try geraniums (not pelargoniums, the stiffer ones generally grown as annuals).

There are some glorious strong pinks, like Russell Pritchard and Anne Folkard and classic blues like Johnson's Blue which flower their little hearts out.

I'd stick to supermarket gerberas as haven't had much luck with them - you might try pots, they like being pot-bound and damp.

Good luck. Let me know if any of this is on the right track. Anna Pavord is worth reading for planting combinations.

Calico Kate said...

Millas response is fabulous. I'm afraid I can't offer much help, what about planting lots of bulbs once you've dug everything up so that flowers start early? They don't need much looking after once in.
That's my pennyworth - not worth a tuppence!

Milla said...

Osteospermum is another one which forms a nice mat of pinky whitey daisies all summer and for the best daisies of all, only annuals but, again, good for covering ground while permanent stuff is growing, are mesembryanthemum, those all but succulents with frosted candy coloured flowers. Full sun for best effect. Will keep dipping back when remember more. Arctotis is another daisy flowered one which is not hardy but a gap filler for that bling effect it's hard to resist in summer. otherwise, I know you want COLOUR, but there's something very appealing about the more subdued, but on-going, colour of euphorbias (smashing bright green flowers and leaves from dark green to glaucous bluey green to dark purple) and heucheras.

pinkfairygran said...

Milla, thank you SO much for all your suggestions. Although there may seem to be a lot in the bed, most of it is coming out, so there will be quite a lot of space to be filled. I shall leave the 'river' of alchemilla I planted a couple of years ago, to wind its way around the taller plants as ground cover, but shall definitely add some of the plants you suggested to my list. I hacve osteospurnum and euphorbia, and whilst I wanted colour, I also wanted it subtle... the hot area of the garden, with LUCIFER crocosmia, lilies and so on, is elsewhere.

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