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Jess is in the Garden

Hi, I'm about to create a raised flower bed with sleepers in my small city garden - it'll be L shaped and possibly tiered too.

The very left hand side will be in totalshade as it will fall alongside a 5ft fence. The top of the L will have moring sun about up to 1pm and the front portions will have a mixture of dappled and sun until the same time.

Soil will be anything I choose, as will be filling it up from scratch.

I had a mad idea to maybe get the lowest part of the L protruding a wee bit into the garden (creating a sort of square with 3 sides-shape) where I could stick a small water feature, like a spherical stone...

Other than that, the only plants I currently own to put in this bed are 1 skimmia (2 yrs old), a 2 yr old Leucothoe, 2 vincas and a small fern.

I've looked at lots of gardening sites and books but I'm still struggling to imagine how exactly to plant this bed up giving it good height at the back (also fenced) and a nice arranegment.

I love foliage and maybe some colour all year round. Thinking of adding Lysimachia, Helleborus, black grass...any other ideas? Would a red palmate acer I already have in a pot be ok to share a bed with other plants? What about good climbers as a backdrop on the trellis/fence? Nothing too vigorous (I had to take out a purple solanum last year as it went out of control).

Has anyone themed their raised bed with certain colours? I partucularly like silvers/purples/blues/whites with splashes of orange or yellow.

Any photos of your raised beds would be great - thank you




Hello, HERE you can have a look for raised beds. We have no flower beds, but some very old raised herb/vegies beds. I must no have it; they stay since 15 years and so we used it for some herbs, it's better for the back of old papa/mama. Look THIS. Greetings, ThaiGer.


For the shade bit what about hostas and brunnera? There is a brunnera called "Jack Frost" with silver frosted leaves and little blue forget-me-not flowers in spring. Hostas have lovely foliage, in all sizes, some variegated, some with purple flowers, wome white flowered.


There are new clemaris that would soften it and are very small The variety 'Cezanne' is shade tolerant, but there are others They trail rather than climb You could also plant it up with summer bulbs for a different look.



I'd be wary of the vinca and the lysimachia, they have ideas of world dominance. I like the hosta/ brunnera scheme, which will give some of the silver you'd like. The black grass I find becomes a little less black in shade, quite green if really overshadowed. Various cyclamen are always good for shade. 


@ilovemonty not a raised bed but a square bed, I have gone for 3 layers, in the front I have evergreens, a hebe and some Erysimum 'Bowles's Mauve. The second layer is seasonal flowers in the photo it is Dahlias but now it has daffodils. In the third layer I have climbers the photo shows sweet peas but I am hoping to take a cutting of an evergreen clematis 'Freckles'.

As you can spot it has a red and pink theme.


Beware 'Freckles' in that bed - I have always found it quie a thug 


Agree, but not much flowering for all the growth in my garden. 

Jess is in the Garden

some great ideas and thanks for the photo!

@ Busy L: I love hostas but the snails in my garden are achieving world dominance and the hostas get trashed in a week, no matter what measures I take

@Nut: is vinca minor as bad? I have a small white vinca minor...

@Kate: gorgeous! I love the height you've achieved at the back.

Brunnera and Erisymum to be investigated now - off to Google


My prefernce is not to grow any vinca. If not kept in check can take years to eradicate - voice of experience.

Jess is in the Garden

Really Rosa? Mine never really do much beyond their small area...I'd love them to take over a bit!


I'd don't think you'd like them to take over as much as mine have! They're growing all over other plants and I need to do some digging and replanting and chucking out this spring.

Hi kate 1123, I love red flowers and I never put them in my garden for fear I could not get    pretty companion plants to go with them .I did not want too much contrast, but the way you have paired them with pinks ,mauves and the evergreens is gorgeous." I will be shopping for some red flowers this season ". The deep reds are they poppys or Dahlias ?Its hard to tell on my computer . I am in new york ,long island to be exact but grow all the same flowers as in the u.k.Gardening is much bigger in  the u.k and I love to garden.No great gardening shows here! Ta Debra


Vinca minor shouldnt be too difficult to keep under control. Ditto Lamiums, both will like the shade/part shade. Easy to pull out if they spread too far.

Heucheras, tiarellas- which like woodland conditions, both will cope with part shade.

Agree about cyclamens, they should spread.

How about a scrambling Clematis Alpina for the back shade bit? Not the largest flowers, nor too big a plant. They naturally grow in the woodlands in Austria etc, where as the canopy increases it can get pretty shadey. They arent the tidiest, but can drip with flowers- usually blue- in the early spring. Dont need an annual prune either, which if it's allowed to scramble around taller plants/shrubs/ the fence- may need some initial tying up- but can be left to do it's own thing from yr to yr.

If however you like tidy/well pruned gardens it wont be for you. J.



I am building my garden.I have decided to go for raised planters, which I will line, seems sensible and then fill with earth I have disturbed, some stones/gravel at the bottom for drainage,I will pop in some holes too.Now, I want tall stuff at the back and low stuff at the front, colour, and I don't want it all to die.

Is this possible?    



what about Iris japonica (light blue), Alstroemeria for the sunnier spot (they come in every colour and add an exotic touch) . I love the texture of some Hostas and the metallic colour of some of them.

I personally love the Vinca, and I find it easy to control if it grows in containers. I also love the dwarf Hydrangea Piamina which becomes pink redish. 

Talking about climbers, I have used many times the ivy which is evergreen and clematis to add a bit of colour. 

Happy gardening!


Anyway, in a previous post Ihave suggested the use of the website it's a collection of pictures taken from professional photographers specialized in gardens. Type the name of a plant and likely you'll find a lot Of combinations!



pjosephharris it should be fine, so long as you don't let it dry out in summer. I would dig in some blood, fish and bone fertiliser and add a thick mulch of potting compost to stop weeds and keep moisture in.

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