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I have a long walled flower bed at the side of the patio. At first view it looks quite nice, but it's built in "cavity wall" fashion and I could really use some advice on how to make it look tidy.

It's just over 10m long, with an overall width of about 95cm. The central planting area is 35cm wide, this is surrounded by breeze block, then another 7 to 10 cm of planting area, surrounded by bradstone. The centre woudln't be too bad, but the 7-10cm strip all around seems only to be good for growing weeds.

I've been her 2 years and left some of the original plants and added geraniums and a fushia. Last year I put some saxifrage in the thin border and that's looking good. The whole thing is very weedy and I'm thinking of putting new compost in the whole thing and starting again.

What do you think I should do with it so it looks good - and is fairly tidy? I'm going to leave a small shrubby rose under the bird feeder as is hides the mess they make, but the rest is up for grabs.

Should I put saxifrage all around the border strip? Would you plant annuals every year? I'm very fond of dianthus. Might a mass planting of them look good or be over the top? You might gather that I haven't done a lot of gardening (and I'm having to get to grips with it fast






I think trailing anything would be good in the smaller holes i think they may need digging out as they are probably solid with roots and refilling with fresh compost.




I'd dig the whole thing out and remove the breeze block 'inner wall'.  The blocks should break off fairly easily with a large hammer and chisel, especially once you remove the first few.  Alternatively, you could try planting some other things (like your saxifrage) which appreciate poor soil and good drainage in the outer part.  Thyme and other similar 'mediterranean' herbs would likely grow well there and the bees would love them.


I like both of those ideas thanks.  I will dig everything out - the narrow bits are pretty solid, though if you hadn't said that I might have been tempted to leave that bit. I like herbs, so I will put in some thyme, and I'll look up other mediterranean herbs.  The bees will be in for a good time with thyme as well. The bush in the picture has magnificent blue flowers and the bees flock to it (or whatever it is that bees do).

I've bought some bags of compost for another herb patch from the local DIY centre. I'm going to need a heap of "soil" for various mangy areas of the garden. What sort of places should I look for larger quantities?  And what would I ask for?  Soil? compost?


You probably want 'topsoil' which you can buy in those large 'tonne' bags from builders merchants like Wickes.  Ask at your DIY centre as they may well supply them to order.  The tonne bags hold about a cubic metre.  Those sort of places will also deliver any quantity of large bags (eg 70l) of multi-purpose compost and I'd mix some of that with the topsoil (say, 5 parts topsoil to 1 part compost.)  Note that most MP compost is of low quality these days, so if you are happy with the stuff you get from the DIY centre, I'd stick with it!



Thanks Bob. Soil isn't anything I've ever wanted to buy and had no idea where to get it. I'll investigate the local DIY centres and building suppplies. I couldn't tell good from bad MP, but the place I just bought some has it cheap, and it has a Which award from 2012 stamped on it - so I guess it has some merit.




I opened a bag of the MP I mentioned - the one with the Which best buy label on it. I know little about MP but I don't like this stuff at all. It has the consistency of finely shredded bark. I can't imagine planting anything in it without adding a whole heap of something more "soil" like. Now I have the rest of that bag and 5 more to use up . After reading your responses I was going to use this stuff for containers - I'll have to mix it with topsoil first.

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