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Pyracantha for clothing fences. Evergreen, grows like a hedge when tied in loosely against a fence, flowers for insects, berries for birds and dark green background for you. I grow on heavy clay in sun or shade, though flowers/berries better in sun. Red column is my personal fave. You could plant those immediately and then spend some time improving the soil in front, but at least they'd be getting going in the meantime. I can recommend COMPOSTED bark for improving clay. You could make pots out of the brown stuff in my last two gardens, but fork in some composted bark plus whatever grit, compost, leaf mould and even a wee bit of grass cuttings and you've got that lovely moist 'christmas cake' soil in no time. The worms love it and it opens the structure better than anything else I've tried. MUST be composted tho - not chipped or decorative. Its worth its weight. Bx

Where can I buy composted bark from? The garden centres only seem to sell the chipped stuff...

Great and helpful information updated. I think some of them are really outstanding suggestions. appreciate your ideas

Hi all,  I've made loads of progress and have finally got some plants in my new border, so far I've put in a buudleja sungold, winged spindle and nandina domestica which all seem quite happy so far.  My 5L eleagnus quicksilver arrived yesterday so i'll be planting it at the weekend along with a deutzia pulchara and choisya, will post a picture at the weekend!

I note the quicksilver grows up to 4m height and 4m spread but can be kept shrubby if pruned, it'll be near the back of the house approx 1m in front of my boundary fence and 2m away from my decking (to give some privacy from the neighbours).... am I making hard work for myself to keep it pruned to approx 2-2.5m? 

As it has scope to grow large should I plant it further away from the house and fence...maybe at the end of the garden?  I don't want to upset my neighbours by growing a massive tree along the fence but at the same time i'd like some privacy!

 Decided to bite the bullet and plant my eleagnus quicksilver by the fence.  So far my new plants seem very happy.  I've alreday had some butterflies and bees buzzing about so am really pleased, am looking forward to seeing them all grow...



Well done! So much more interesting now.  What about putting some trellis or wires on the fence and growing a clematis? Or is there something climbing there already. There is a problem with this site at the moment for posting photos so they are smaller than they used to be.

Thanks everyone  Am quite chuffed with myself.  I will definately plant a nice climber along the trellis at some point soon. 

Since the weather's got rotten and ridiculously windy I've become obsessed with checking to see if they're all still ok. lol,  So far so good...

When borders need restructuring First establish what you want your borders to do: tall plants as a screen, or a see-through effect, with transparent plants of mixed heights? Maybe, like in my entrance courtyard, the borders "seed" the windows, provide great views from inside.

Have only just seen your blog and briefly scanned through all comments. Won't comment on planting because you seem to be doing really well with everyone else's advice and your own instincts. Photos show that.
About that path... Have you thought of repositioning the slabs around your new flower bed right up to where the earth starts? You would then be able to work near the edge with less risk of accidentally treading down that nice clean cut edge.
You could either (1) simply lay them on top of existing grass but that slightly complicate mowing - you might have to strim as well; or (2) carefully lift turf to inset the slabs just below the grass level and you then just mow over their edges.
With (2) you might be able to reuse the turfs in the bare patches left when you lift the slabs.
After that, if you still want a little path (eg for wet conditions) you could buy lightweight stepping stones to put down temporarily anywhere you like - they can be moved around as you change your mind or just left where you choose ( but of course the grass under them will turn yellow and die then).
Modern stepping stones are usually concrete and, although manageably lighter than slabs, are still a bit heavy. I saw some many years ago which were definitely lightweight - several could be held in one hand - but I forget what they were made of - possible strong plastic or fibreglass.
Just a few ideas!

Thanks Birdy13, I think it might look a bit weird if I put the path slabs around the edge of the border as they're quite big squares. 

I guess I can just lift off the edge of the turf along the border and lay something flat in there just below the turf level?  I don't really like the finish of bricks but would like something narrow, any ideas?



I'm veryinterested in the discussion about plants as I have some newly deplanted borders that need a replan.  I had a similar small town garden, with stepping stones which was messy but we have replaced with this block paving and newly levelled grass with timber sleeper border on two sides which is now my blank canvas. Am looking forward to a bankholiday gardening fest!




You can see the timber sleepers better on this picture, llain on their side with stakes attached to the back of them and driven in to make them secure.



Sorry janpan- no pix so we can't see anything!


Ah,trying from iPad. Will do on PC at home later! Sorry.


Birdy has put a thread on here about the pic problems with iPads - don't know if there's any responses yet Janpan but it's been a common issue here.



Thanks I'm a newbie.


Welcome anyway janpan! If you can use a pc and get them on here you'll get plenty of replies and advice- there's a lot of very helpful and knowledgeable people on the forum. I've learnt an awful lot already. Any info you can add will be a great help- ie aspect, soil type etc as well as your own requirements for the space.


Hi fairygirl.  Thanks for the advice.  You will see that I have a small garden and two narrow borders, a quadrant border with only a buddleia in it and a newly laid lawn.  Advice on narrow borders for perennials and all year interest gratefully received.  My garden faces west and there is now little shade.  I will get a soil testing kit.  My mother in law is a fantastic gardener but I am pretty poor, due to time constraints.


JanPan - it's a pain trying to get pics to work from an iPad on the forum. You are supposed to have a toolbar of about 17 icons (including one of a tree. My toolbar was missing but I didn't know it was supposed to be there (above the  window you type into).

In the end I emailed the webteam and have the toolbar at last.  Its not completely troublefree but I can post photos. Have you got the toolbar?

Been a while since my last post.  All the planting I did earlier in the year is still looking good except for my buddleia which snapped off at the root during the high winds we had in October.

I've been busy all autumn but as it was such nice weather last weekend I planted some evergreen shrubs which include bay tree, orange pyracantha, mrytle, arbutus marina & aucuba japonica.  However now I'm worried I was a bit silly as if we get a frost are they likely to all die??

I've put a thick layer of bark chippings around them, is this enough to protect them while they settle in... hopefully before we get hard frosts.

I'll take some photos to show you the progress.