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My borders are empty apart from 4 trees, each about 10' or 12' high - a conifer and a lilac side by side on the left hand side, a prunus and an apple tree about 12' apart on the right hand side.  But I need to put some shrubs and climbers in front of the fence at the end of the garden to create a backdrop for the perennial planting in front.  It would also be nice to have a small tree as a focal point in the middle - something with Spring blossom and good autumn leaf colour.  The fence is 6' and about to be painted in CGS 'Willow'.  The neighbour at the back has a regularly trimmed conifer hedge that runs all along the boundary and rises about 2'6"above my fence, so I need to be careful that whatever I plant doesn't get trimmed in August along with the hedge!  The fence faces north east, getting the morning sun until about 11am at this time of year.

Looking forward to your thoughts and suggestions - thank you!


Lovely small tree is Cercis canadensis 'Forest pansy' Look on Mr Google for pics of it. Stunning.

Really for other suggestions you at least need to decide colours you would prefer.

Climbers are stunning but oh there are so many different sotrts as ame with shrubs.

My colour palette is cool - pink, mauve, blue, white wih a background of different greens.


Prunus cistena crimson dwarf is a real stunner.  Pinky white flowers on red foliage. I grow couple of half standards.  The foliage colour lasts all summer.

A good, similar size and shape is salix .....too late to try the name but it's the Japanese  one.  Lovely pink, white foliage.

Acer flamingo too is beautiful, white, cream and pale green foliage.  I prune hard every spring for a 6' or 7' frothy mound all summer

Phormiums and  ornamental grasses add movement and grace to a  border.  As will "spikes" like delphiniums, agastaches, veronicastrums, verbena bonariensis.

Evergreen shrubs like choisya...mounded scented ..mahonia for architectural shape and winter colour and berberis Darwinii for rich orange flowers right now.

A mixture at the lower level too of grasses...spikes....and mounds like Heucheras, hostas, scabious, etc etc

Dont forget the value of deciduous shrubs....a woody winter framework  breaking into growth and flower for spring and summer.....the common potentilla will flower all summer,philadelphus aureus will produce yellow foliage all summer with wonderful scent in June.  Cotinus royal purple with purple foliage.  Foliage contrast and sculpture from eucalyptus gunnii....evergreen steely blue foliage



Can't add  much to that! One of my favorite small 'trees' is Pyrus salicifolius-the ornamental weeping pear. Not so much autumn colour but lovely from this time of year and through summer with it's silvery foliage. Euonymous alatus is great for autumn colour and doesn't get too big. 


The amount of interesting information given on this site is incredible! This wasn't my question - but the answers are fantastic. Lots of things to ask Mr Google about!

Sorry berkley, I guess I get carried away.  Wish you well anyway

Fairygirl I too like Pyrus pendula.  Treated a friend to one for her garden..5 acres a focal point and it looks superb.  Hope you had nice day


Thanks Verd-yes been busy and managed to restrain myself at GC! Got lawn feed which was all i was going for but bought some pots and another pasque flower so did another little alpine pan to go with the one I have. Been grasscutting and digging and hacking back stuff so quite productive!

I intend getting another pear as I love them but will have to wait! Potted on my toms and they are really growing well. One of my cannas showing signs of life so keeping fingers crossed!

Why are you apologising, Verdun? Your answer is fantastic!

I'd consider the crab apples for the tree (malus 'john downie's my personal fave'). these dont get too big for you, have the blossom you're after, and look well as part of a border. For shrubs, I'd consider pyracantha grown againt the fence like a climber to give you a good backdrop. I'd never be without cotinus coggyria for purple foliage - it can get huge, but mine never do as I use it to fancy-up cut flowers in he house. Its such a fabulous foil to show off  other things. I might consider a small flowering shrub next to or in front of cotinus - white potentilla looks amazing, as does pink cistus. And both of those are easy shrubs to keep (i never prune them) and easy to put perennials with - they seem to look nice with anything. I love phormiums - they give you an evergreen version of what iris foliage does for a border - a great vertical. Like the potentilla/cistus kind of thing, not for the very back - just slightly forwards, perhaps in front of pyracantha, to blend the shrubs with the herbaceous. I also use euphorbia wulfennii in the same sort of role. You can't beat the odd spire of conifer to break up looser shubs too. I use 'elwoodii' cos it tends to be cheaper than 'skyrocket'. Spireas are good shrubs for clipping - I keep mine as 3ft balls in my mixed borders. They still flower, but are a good foil for the blowsy chaos of tthe perennials around them, stopping it all getting too out of hand. I'd also recommend viburnum opulus for a back of border shrub. Again, can go big if not pruned, but so useful for cutting that it never gets the chance to be more than 8/9ft tall here. Easy to keep clothed right to the ground if you prune, attractive leaf shape in itself, nice autumn colour and those spectacular green/white pompoms. What's not to like? Hope that's some more food for thought - got a bit carried away! Bx

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