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And maybe Jess would like her own little patch to grow stuff in - that's how I got started 

Gary Hobson

Foxgloves, hollyhocks and wallflowers don't require a greenhouse. Seeds could be sown straight in the ground, but it gives you a more control to sow the seeds in small trays. Used plastic cartons with holes punched in will do. By growing in trays you can keep an eye on the germinating seeds and give them some TLC. It's best to use compost to sow them in, rather than garden soil, which will be full of weed seeds. If you have trays outside, it might be a good idea to put some kind of cover over them, to protect them from heavy rain. Also make sure they're safe from slugs.

These are some foxgloves, for next year, that I sowed a couple of weeks ago...



The tray at the lower right was only sown last week, but there are already tiny seedlings showing...



If you ever need to move any of the large slabs at some future time, then the main thing to beware of is trapping your fingers, or toes, which can be nasty.

I guessed that the Playhouse might have been grown out of, but your little girl should still have her place in the garden. You might think about growing some plants that appeal to children, like sunflowers, which would also be good against the fence (probably too late to sow those for this year).

There are several other forum members who have gardens of an approximately similar size, and some of them are only a few years old. Some of their owners have done a quite remarkable job. Rain often posts photos of her (newish) garden. Rain has several roses, including an impressive climbing rose trained against a support.


HI, have a look at "peter beales roses ltd", their web site has a conditions facility, "roses for shade" a plenty,

The key is definitely pale, calming colours, Insomnia. I see what you mean about your green fences. I've used B & Q's 'Oregano' green, and blues with names like 'Forget-me-not'. Other brands are available! Perhaps as an alternative you could paint some openwork trellis panels and fix them to the fence (not continuous, but just to break up the appearance of your existing fence). You would need to decide whether to fix them in landscape or portrait format.

hollie hock

Hello, thanks for the new photos,

I do agree painting/protecting your fence would be my next job.It is the boundary of your garden. For me I like the dark wood effect, the plants look great against that colour, but I have a larger garden with a hedge on one side. Are the fence panels yours?

What I know it is all about next year. There is nothing better than seeing a flower that you know that you have grown  from seed. Gary's right, it is very easy.

I'm in my second year of growing  from seed, a lot of it starting on my kitchen windowsill. You can do loads.  For me, I have had amazing results in sowing indoors on a kitchen window, then slowly transferring into a cold frame to harden them off.

This is is one of mine in Feb.

It's moved now, to make room for my potting shed






hollie hock

Forgot to say take loads of photos.You will be amazed how quick things grow

Lots of good idea's given, I'd be inclined to get rid of the post, growing plants up it is a good adea but if you dig the soil up from around the post you'll eventually come to a ball of concrete, push it over and bury it in a rasied bed to the side, only you who will ever know it's there.

Lift the flags and extend the patio area to allow for table and chairs. After land scaping the garden you'll want to sit back with Jess and enjoy it, what better way than having tea in the garden on a warm sunny evening and surveying all the hard work with Jess playing on the lawn. Any spare flags can be used to create a path. Children love drawing on them with chalks and rain washes it all away. 

The brick wall would look good with trellis and climbing plants. If putting up a trellis, baton it to the wall to allow plants to weave themselves behind the trellis. Aldi do a bag of 3 climbers for £5, not sure when but me thinks it's about September/October time.

Next I'd paint the fence it's a personnal choice, colour but I'd go for the darker browns, it doesn't date and once the plants start to grow colour won't matter.

Happy gardening.            

Miss Becks

Guys, you have all been brilliant with your ieas and suggestions, and I have a list of suitable plants that will do well in the shade now, so thankyou.

Zoomer44, you make it sound so easy getting rid of that post! LOL I will have a dig and see what I come accross. If I can push it I will. I would rather it be gone, but never thought of disguising it, if that fails, thanks to figrat. And I do like the idea of extending the patio. Would use up some of that space on the left which I'm trying to use.

Hollie-Hock, you've educated me to what a coldframe is with your picture! I've heard talk of them hundreds of times, but didn't quite know what they were. I have loads of spare bits of wood! I could build one myself.

Gary, thanks for the link to rains pictures. It looks great! And thanks for your pics, and sowing advice. All been noted down.

Joe, I'm still pondering on the paint colour for the fences, as I'd have to do the whole garden, would I not? Otherwise it would look odd.

Dovefromabove - The garden is all Jessies! It was her that got me into the gardening in the first place, by questioning me about a seed stand she had seen in tesco's. She has chosen EVERYTHING that we have planted, apart from the onions, which she doesn't like, and she even has her own little website which I update for her with pictures, so friends and family can see how she's doing. She supervises me out there!

pash, thanks for the roses link. I have the front garden to do as well, but that will wait until the back is decent, but that will be mostly roses, as I love them so much, so will keep that website link for the future.

Again, a huge thankyou for all the input.

Beck. xx

Miss Becks

Hi guys, again.

I'm after you great advice again. I've had a tidy round, and lifted all the slabs and layed them a bit better, so now have two little bits at each side as I ran out of slabs, so I can make them into small raised beds.

What do people use to make them? I'm obviously after the more cheaper options, but what sort of things can I use?

Here's a pic of where I'm upto to date:




Gary Hobson

You have been working hard.

Those side beds look as though they could almost have things planted in them as they are, maybe with a bit of compost added, if the native soil is not too good.

If you should want to do any fence painting, then might be an idea to do that before planting anything that needs to be supported against the fence. Though not necessary if you just want to plants some annuals.

The post is crying out to have something climb up it. Something that climbs quickly and is colourful. Maybe sweet peas, with a bit of netting tied around the post for them to cling to. Or maybe even a decorative grape vine, which could then trail along a beam supported between the post and the fence.

And the slabs provide a good area on which to stand lots of pots, if you wish, containing whatever you like.

You could also plant something low and colourful along the picket fence, maybe something like nasturtians.


Becks -if you want to grow veg in those side beds you are going to need sunshine-and without trawling back how much sun does that area get?

Railway sleepers are the classic thing for raised beds -but not light and you may need to cut them to fit

Miss Becks

Gery, I can't put anything in there yet. The soil is so full of stones and rubble. I've got to go through it all by hand to clear it (Any tips on an easy way to do that? Thought about using a kitchen collinder like a sieve!).

Also, that wood that I've used as the sides won't last five minutes when it rains. It was an old set of pine bunk beds I've took apart, just to give me an idea of the bed borders. Below is what I did with the headboards! I needed this tree cordoned off, as Jess keeps running into the branches, so I trimmed it down, and stuck them round. Plan to cover it in chicken wire as well, and put some climbers to disguise them!

 Again, probably won't last long when bad weather comes, but keeps her away for now!

That post will definately be chickenwired as well. The concrete ball at the base was massive, went under the slabs towards the door as well, so couldn't push it over.

Geoff, I had planned on doing veg's at first, but now I'm coming round to the idea of flowers. The side where the fence is probably gets a couple of hours tops, depending on sunrise. I know it's in shade by 9am. The other side by the wall however gets it up until 3-4pm at the moment. It's that wall that I wanted my Grapevine on.

What about painted Pallet wood for the raised beds?


Gary Hobson

You could treat those headboards with garden wood preserver, or woodstain. You can buy it in lots of colours. Red? It's expensive, IMO.

The main reason why some people need raised beds is to assist drainage, and they also make it easier for some root crops, like carrots. Because the sides mark off the growing area they also deter people from stepping on the soil. That's very important. Compacting soil, by treading on it, is the thing you want to avoid. So, as long as the beds are marked off, that's the main thing. If the soil is already compacted, then forking it over (or digging), so the soil becomes loose with plenty of air in it, is a good idea.

A few stones are useful, in assisting drainage. But 'rubble' doesn't sound very nice. It is possible to sieve top soil. I've done that. The fine separated soil is almost as good as compost.  A proper garden sieve costs about £4, from most garden centres. In your situation, I'd have thought that turning the soil over with a spade/fork and picking out the worst bits by hand would do.

And you want to start making your own compost, with all your kitchen waste, so you can start improving the soil.


Becks pallets would work but use a wood presertative -the other thing to bear in mind is how you are going to fill them remembering you are on a budget- bagged compost-top/soil does not come cheap,

Steve the Gardening Vet

With reference to your concrete post, since you want to cover it with slabs, do you know anyone with an angle grinder?

Our very nice neighbour cut ours down to ground level for us!


Miss Becks

Well, I've just got back from our local village hardware shop, and he's ordering me a garden sieve in, and 3 metres of chicken wire, all for a fiver. And he gave me a pack of Hollyhock seeds, Chaters Double mix! Bargain. And then next door gave me a dark wood patio set (Table and 4 chairs) as they've replaced theirs! Having a good day so far!

I can get hold of a couple of free pallets, and scour ebay for some wood preserver, which can do both the pallets and headboards. If not, hardware shop jobby again. I'm sure he'll see me ok.

Geoff, when I first started on that area, it was mainly dirt/soil before I extended and re-laid the slabs, and I have recyling bins full of what I dug out, and another little pile by the new little fence. I'm also extending all the borders around the whole garden, so should have more to add from there. Hopefully.

Miss Becks

Would that do it Steve? It also has thick metal/steel rods running through the middle. If it will, I'll ask round the neighbours!

Gary Hobson

You've managed to get your hands on some bargains.

Insomnia1973 wrote (see)

... I'll ask round the neighbours!

Neighbours and friends are a good source of plant material. Many plants can be divided, or pieces with some root cut off (not the best time of year; though some plants could be divided now). Many plants will transplant, with some TLC.


Becks also look on freecycle- I quite often see free top spoil or manure-if you have means of collecting it.

Miss Becks

Well, I found out yesterday my sister has a grapevine in her garden!!! How do I take cuttings from that? Not sure if edible or decorative, but I'm not fussed about that.

And I've heard of that Geoff, but never used it. The old boy over the road from me has a trailer he uses to take stuff to the tip with. Will have a nosey later!