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Hello, I am new to this...and unsure how to search if this has  been a topic before...

I have a very long (12m x almost a metre) strip of earth to plant up...east-ish facing.

it's against a boring light brown fence....I'd love all year interest...but cannot decide on a "repeat" plant...or focus it's so I stick with a colour but different textures and then plant in between perennials with all year interest...

thought of Hebe Mrs Winder at far end...cordyline some where..then a lavender hidcote in the middle...then perhaps a Fuschia and ending with Erysimum Bowles Mauve at the other end....and then fill the gaps with lambs tongue..heuchera...hellebore' geraniums...

Will this all be too much....not sure where to begin or find info

Thank you for any advice...




What soil do you have? Acid or alkaline? Sandy or heavy clay? Warm or cool site? Does it have fence or wall behind it or is it in the open like an "island bed"? A metre deep is not much but 12 metres long is nice! I like mixture of grasses, shrubs and perennials for year round show. Plus seasonal bulbs. Hellebores, one of my favourites, are fantastic value and evergreen. Consider companion shapes as well as companion colours. Enjoy the planning stage. Oh, have you improved soil? Is it ready for planting? Stand back, you will get loads of ideas as well as my own. Good luck wildcosmos
Oops! I see it's against a fence. Maybe plant on that?
Bunny ...
Could you paint the boring fence or add some trellis then plant up some climbers for interest. Could you curve the shape too for interest ? I find different geraniums add colour and interest , hellebores even bulbs for spring, I have various perennial plants and fill in with cosmos , pots , sweet peas , even baskets on the fence .
I don't believe there is a right or wrong just have a go. Enjoy ,

gosh...thanks for replying both of you....its dare I say it..."normal soil"...not dry of clay or clogged ~ think sunny in morning and then perhaps shady in afternoon by the fence...yes, going to paint the boring thing...and yes, was thinking of trelis for clematis sometime...


hollie hock

Hi Sarah,

I've been trying to imagine your garden. The first thing I would think about is the boundary, you say it's boring light brown fence. Boundaries really change things, I really like a dark brown effect against the green of the plants, but I do get a lot of light.

It's long and narrow, similar to the shape that I have. I would avoid planting to that shape and design.

Any chance of a picture?

...not much to see...full of snow, Hollie...fab idea to paint it dark brown!

let's see if I can add this picture..


Bunny ...
Dark brown fences with white flowers go well !
Could you alter bed shape , mine all curve around the garden so some beds slightly deeper (wider) in sections allowing diff levels of planting .

I'd definitely be eating into that lawn. 

thanks...perhaps will do....does anyone know where I can get plant suggestion/ google not helping much ...the options are just endless...and not sure where to begin...

Bunny ...
Have you searched plants on this site , can put in preferences, type of soil etc .

Have you a picture in your mind of the effect you want to create. Colours or shapes?

If it were mine I'd start with a group of about 3 shrubs for diffent times of the year, In a group with one coming forward onto what is now lawn, placed about a third of the way up. This would break it up a bit and give you someting to go and look at instead of it being all visible at once. You could have different styles of planting to each side. It's down to what you like really. Don't worry about repeat plants unless you like that effect and want to do it. Mention has been made on another thread of the National Gardens Scheme. Go and look at some gardens. See what you like. Garden owners (and other visitors) will tell you what the plants are and what coditions they like. You don't have to wait til summer, snowdrop and spring garden will start opening next month. You'll want some early flowering bulbs, you can see them in action.


Hello Wildcosmos. I would make the bed wider and and add some curves. Then I'd start at the back with some climbers and trellis, clematis early and late, honeysuckle, a couple of roses. Then plant what you like, perennials as a base and annuals for colour, also easier on the budget because you can sow them from seed and buy plug plants to fill in gaps which can be filled the next year. Perennial geraneums are always a good bet, veronicas, campanulas, phlox, penstemen, catmint, sedum spectabile Go to the garden centre and look at the pictures in the gardening books and perhaps buy one.

.....thankyou everyone for all your suggestions...first time here and I'll be back.

lots of food for thought ~

tomorrow is another day ~


Berberis atro nana, a purple foliage dwarf shrub, fuschia genii with yellow foliage, grasses like elymus magellanicus with lovely blue foliage. Carex buchanii erect red foliage and stipa Tennuissima with billowing fluffy flowers throughout summer. Lavendars, hellebores with colour now and in spring with evergreen foliage. Heucheras Berry Smoothy, marmalade, citronella and Obsidian. Geraniums like Jolly Bee, Elke and Ann folkard. Aster frikartii monch for blue flowers from mid summer to autumn and rudbekia Goldsturn for contrast. A couple of euphorbias....rubra for purple evergreen foliage and Polychroma for chrome yellow spring flowers. I grow a lovely eryngium called Jade Frost with variegated foliage and the most fantastic blue coloured flowers. Try a couple of taller grasses like miscanthus gold bar and morning light for narrow swaying height. A slow growing easy conifer like Taxus Standishii will give height in a colour ranging from yellow to,olive during the year. A couple of rhymes like Silver Posie,


..didn't finish but there are loads and loads more plus climbers. Decide what you would like and leave some spaces for impulse buying throughout the year

I feel you need to widen that border as someone else said curve it . If you make it wider all the way along with sweepimg curves your fence will not dominate so much and you could then palnt up with bolder shrubs as in list above and perennials. Don't go for small shrubs, be bold.

Lion S

Yes, I also agree that border needs to be widened. Personally I'd be inclined to cut into the grass too by removing 2 strips of turf of about 80 x 200 cm , with an interval of about 350 cm which would make the shape more attractive to the eye IMO. This would give you some more room for (larger) shrubs and plants and maybe even a small tree?The photo shows what I mean, the brick paving would be your lawn.

 I would advise you to draw the border at scale. Then, draw the evergreens so you'll be able to see what's visible all year round and how much space you've left for other planting.

Instead of using trellis only you could consider training a shrub to cover a part of the fence (I'd recommend Garrya elliptica) and repeat that once or twice.

There are lots of sites where you can find photos of borders (Google) and of course lots of info at the library to give you ideas...

A lovely project, Wildcosmos, and I wish you lots of succes. Please, would you be so kind and show us the result? And if you need more advice you know where to find us.


Now the internet is up to speed again. You need to aim for shrubs that give year round colour. If you plant well the birds will come as you will give them lots of places to perch and feel safe. In a house I lived in we had a fence just like that, paint it and aim to hide it, at the back in the corner curve the bed arouns - it will ive a softer feel and suggest more hidden garden even if you don't have one.

As you are totally new may I suggest you get a couple of the Expert books in the Doctor series They give easy to follow advice, say which shrubs attract bees, birds and butterflies and most of the plants are easy to obtain

These are how I started to learn about shrubs and are good to browse through

Using these will help you see what will suit your choice


I have a strip like that outside my fence, next to the pavement. It was just weeds when I moved here and the council would trim it once a year. It faces West, it is only.75 of a metre wide and is fairly poor, dry soil.I decided to plant it up; various yellow roses from cheap shops, 3 horizontal junipers, variegated philodendron, 2 or 3 lavenders, honeysuckle, clematis, hibiscus, hypericum, potentilla. Various wallflowers, in the summer I plant the annual white form of lavatera and marigolds self seed. The main colours are yellow and purple, no red or pink. Passers by seem to really like it. (I just wish they would dead head the roses)