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Along the path from the front to the back garden we have a very narrow border - it is 6" wide and 5 metres long (I know, I'm being ecumenical ).  

It faces North,north-west; half of it is against our neighbours' brick garage wall and the other half is against a 1m high brick wall.  

I'd like to have something climbing up there but I know the neighbours don't want that, so I just want some ideas for a plant or plants that will cover the narrow strip of soil with some colour and texture and look good. 

The soil is sandy loam.

The colours in the front garden are blues, plums, rusts and soft yellows. 

I've pulled up all the trailing campanula that was there 'cos it always got tall and flopped over onto the path before it flowered.

At the moment I'm thinking Ajuga, but I thought you lot might have some other suggestions? 


Cotoneaster horizontalis?

I have a North facing bed which contains established Bay, Willow and Mallow.  They are drawn up due to the boundary wall/fence........about 1.5 to 2 mt high. Also a beautiful Pineapple Broom (C. batt.) which is now high enough to reach the sun and smells fantastic.   I've  pruned all  to try and form a canopy and give the actual border a bit more light and so far have found that Heucheras do quite nicely...........both the yellow, dark purple and, more recently a pale rusty colour.  I also have the Ajuga with the black leaf........the foliage can "disappear" a bit  (particularly against my mulch of shreddings ) but the blue of the flowers is sufficiently vibrant to make it worthwhile. 

I also have hardy fuchsias, ferns, prims, cranesbill etc. as well as various bulbs. 

I haven't had your soil type so perhaps most of these wouldn't do too well for you but I find all ideas are grist to the mill.  Be interested to know what you finally decide on because my patch is ongoing and perhaps I can filch/adapt some of your ideas  Oh yes, the blue tits love the C. batt 


Euphorbia purpurea is ideal for dry shade, and the colour would fit

Some grasses do well in shade; Bowles golden grass, Stipa arundicea[ good rust colours ] and Deschampsia are possibilities.

Vincas a bit dull perhaps?

Persicaria Red Dragon will take quite a lot of shade, and the leaf colour is good [ although white flowers late in the season ]

Ageritina Chocolate has lovely foliage and grows well in shade in my garden [ again white flowers ]

Maybe a fern such as the Dryopteruses [?dryopteri ] do well in dry shade.


The old stalwart of Alchemilla mollis will do well in dry shade as will Pachysandra, Epimedium, Francoa, and some of the saxifrages. Tiarella and Pulmonarias will also do ok. Are you intending to plant all of it using just the one type of plant? or a mixture?



We have lots of ferns, alchemilla, pulmonarias and vinca in other parts of the garden. 

The euphorbia is something I hadn't thought of 

Saxifrage is another idea.

I had thought that keeping to one plant would probably give a bit of impact, as the bed's so narrow.  

Sorry Dove............I read your 6 inches as 6 foot


I did wonder   I wish - I'd love to find a place for C batt.  I have very fond memories of it in a lovely pub garden 

I have a narrow pebbled area with just Ajuga in and it looks very effective.

Sarcacocca?daphne? I read of a daphne 100cm x 100cm sorry can?'t remember which one to is, those New Zealand busy lizzies that didn't succumb to disease?


I would add as much well rotted manure as you can before planting anything so it helsp retain moisture and feeds your plants.

Hardy geraniums such as macrorhizum would do well and provide form and colour all year form the changing foliage and then the flowers in spring.  Scented leaves too.   Pulmonaria Sissinghurst would be OK as long as you can give it enough moisture and the white flowers and spotty leaves would brighten things up.   Brunnera with silvery markings on the foliage.   You could try ferns in the dryopteris group if you want to break up the straight edge and get some height.  Maybe some taller Japanese anémones for later flowers and good foliage.    I'd have thought Persicaria virginiana 'Lance Corporal' would do well too.


Not sure about tall - it's the pathway to the back garden and the wheelie bins have to go along there - in wind or rain they'd get bashed about. 

And it is going to be difficult to dig any manure in - I think my only option is to dig out the top 6-8" of soil and mix it in a barrow with manure/compost and put as much back as will fit.  

G. macrorhizum is a good idea - I know geraniums like it there as it was totally overgrown with crane's bill when we moved in.


Saxifrage would be evergreen and keep the weeds down at change of season.

Cotoneaster horizontalis, as pansyface said, could be an option it will grow slighty up the wall but not cling and be a problem for your neighbours.  The bees could go there when they need cooling off in summer


Lysimachia punctata?  Only trouble is it's not evergreen but it would brighten it up,

or Carex pendula - that grows literally anywhere


..I too have a narrow border about the same length... what I did initially was to plant a row of bedding Begonia's...all along the strip until I got other plants established.... not evergreen but plenty of colour in a shady border for best part of the year...

...these other plants are Liriope muscari...evergreen grassy plant flowers late in the year... but they are expensive to buy and has taken me a few years to build up...bit tatty in Spring but they can make a shady narrow border look a bit classy I think...

... in between gaps I still use Begonias for the summer...and celandine 'Brazen Hussey' for it soon disappears after flowering...


Convollaria (lily-of-the-valley); polygonatum (Solomon's seal); euphorbia; by constant splitting of plants, you could put hostas in there - they have some beautiful varieties and the neighbours/friends/relatives will be grateful of new plants every year.


It's the six inches wide that's the problem - I'm afraid that hostas would get damaged by the passing wheelie bins


There are some little hostas that may be OK but I usually find they're best in pots on a display stand so you can appreciate them.   I'd go for something easy to maintain that doesn't suffer from slugs or mildew or other problems so hardy geranium macrorhizum every time as it's evergreen in normal winters and the foliage is scented and turns red for added interest. 


Geranium mac. is sounding more and more the likely choice