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11/11/2013 at 20:46

Hello gardeners!  I found this forum while looking for ideas & it seems really helpful so I thought I would see if anyone can throw some suggestions at me. 

I’ve been concentrating on the larger back garden up until now but now I'm ready to sort out this walled area to the side of the house.  Its a 7m x 14m blank canvas,   Christmas is coming (along with guests) & I need design ideas & plant suggestions please! 

The doors at one end lead from the Dining Room & I'm thinking of a small patio area in front of those.   The rest is open to suggestion.  It faces SW & has nice views of the sunset & surrounding country.     

I’m planning to underplant the old trees that are to the left of the house (looking from it)  with a new hedgerow but might put some screening up there until it grows.  There is a quiet road to the other side of the trees.

And... just so this isn’t too easy for you; this is on the North Pennines, the soil is claylike (though I'll be improving it).  There is lots of rain, wind & weather in general.  Temperatures can get to -10.  This little spot is fairly sheltered but plants need to be tough up here!  Any suggestions very welcome.





11/11/2013 at 20:56

Do you mean you want to finish it before xmas?

11/11/2013 at 21:13

Hi Stargaze,  No..I mean I will be finishing it by Xmas, its over a whole month away  .  

I do understand I'm going to have to let some things grow ..apparently & I wont be doing it alone so dont let my bonkers timescale put you off. 

AND..I've already started..i've ordered solar fairy lights .    


11/11/2013 at 21:54

I love your enthusiasm but I wouldnt be planting anything now. You need to dig over where you intend to put your beds ans add some muck. The frosts will then help to break the exposed lumps down and ready to plant next Spring.

11/11/2013 at 22:14

Those pics were taken after the recent heavy rain.  The ground is dug and additional muck n stuff will be getting added.  I thought this was a good time to plant trees, shrubs, bulbs.. stuff..? 

11/11/2013 at 22:23

Yes I agree with punkdoc, I would dig the ground over and level out. Perhaps make a few plans on paper and think what type of shrubs, climbers plants for pots etc. Plant in the spring after frost or hopefully not--the snow. There will be loads of plants to choose come the spring. You will also have time to plan without rushing into things.

Did you want plants to attract wildlife,  maybe bird baths or a water feature. a pond. Maybe a seating area further down the garden as well as the patio by the house.

Best wishes 

11/11/2013 at 22:28

I absolutely totally and completely recommend a pond - I made an enormous mountain out of a molehill about making one (a wildlife one, not a koi one) and even though I only finished it a month ago and it therefore isn't fully planted, it is attracting birds and insects -  we now have a toad, and have had a visiting dragonfly.  I can see mine from the living room window (as you'd be able to) and it is fascinating.  It's nowhere near as hard to do as I thought, just labouring really.

11/11/2013 at 23:33

Linda. Inthat case yes you culd plant trees and shrubs

11/11/2013 at 23:36

Hi Sara, good idea.  I love ponds!  I actually do have a largish fishpond in the larger back garden & that is pretty popular with the wildlife & had thought about another here - but actually a wildlife one is a really good idea.   What plants have you used around yours? 

13/11/2013 at 23:58

Sorry for long delay in coming back to you Linda - work irritatingly interfering with my leisure time, instead of just sending me a cheque ... I didn't finish my pond until last month, so it isn't fully planted as of yet but I have a lot of arum lilies, irises and ferns etc around the outer edges, have planted the world's tiniest Rodgersia in a boggy bit and a heavenly bamboo (nandina) at the back of the beach bit.  There are a few pond plants which might burgeon in the spring - flowering rush, water mint and some other natives I have forgotten the names of.  I have seeded with things like loosestrife in the non grass area, but I'm really looking forward to the spring when I can put in water lilies etc and plant the boggy bits up properly with things that might want to grow! 

14/11/2013 at 07:30

Sara that sounds lovely, especially the beach part, do you have pics?. We were going to make a section 'beachy' next year . Hoping to get a summer house.

14/11/2013 at 07:30

Sara that sounds lovely, especially the beach part, do you have pics?. We were going to make a section 'beachy' next year . Hoping to get a summer house.

14/11/2013 at 15:32

I have only one question Linda, is that leyllandi on the left?

If it is you will have trouble getting anything decent to grow next to it!

They suck up so many nutrients from the soil, improving soil next to it will only encourage more growth in the leyllandi.

Their root systems will spread 4-5 meters into your garden and out compete anything you plant.

If they are yours I would halt any improvements till they can be taken out.

14/11/2013 at 19:31

You asked for it Lily .... Sorry about Ursula Andress emerging from the water!  If I try and take a photo of her she won't keep still, if I don't want her in it she turns into Kate Moss ...


15/11/2013 at 00:13

Hi again, my turn to apologise for not replying.  I've had Sara's problem; apparently I am expected to work in order to be paid & it really eats into my day sometimes.  Sara I love your pond, the pics look great..especially the one decorated by the lovely model aka Moss-paw.  I think if I was to put a wildlife pond in my little spot it would look more like a puddle in comparison.  I do have a bigger pond in the back garden that i'm also going to be planting more eventually too.  Mines more a fish pond than a wildlife one but the local wildlife dont seem to have recieved that memo & like you I've edged it with rocks & stones to try & keep a natural look.  I am sometimes not sure what to put in different places but find I learn a lot by asking the names of plants others use so thanks for that info.




15/11/2013 at 00:34

As for the Leylandii, thank you for warning me about that Dave.  There are a few of them, all very negelcted & overgrown.  I've already ordered some bare root hedgegrow plants to replace them but was thinking of just cutting back the ones that were there and leaving them to shelter the new plants for a while.  It sounds like it might be better to just remove the old ones?

15/11/2013 at 00:52

Thank you for the compliments Linda - it really is not as big as it looks particularly in the second photo.  I have had a huge amount of help with potential planting, much of it from this site (this is how I know the names Rodgersia and Nandina!) also from huge quantities of web research which confused me so much that I nearly ended up doing nothing at all.  For buying pond and marginal plants, I find a helpful site is

The man who runs the firm seems to be a very ethical one man band, isn't ruinously expensive and is very willing to share his expertise with those of us who can't tell a native pond plant from a flying saucer ...



15/11/2013 at 07:40

Linda, my best advice is to get those Leylandii out before you do anything else.  Then you can grind the roots out and clear the space ready to plant something else.  Doing it later will cause havoc and a real mess.  As you say you've a bare canvas at the moment so take advantage of it.  

Leylandii will not make fresh growth when you trim them back so you'll be left with horrid brown dead-looking patches if you try that.

Good luck and have fun with it all 

17/11/2013 at 14:48

Thanks for the advice everyone!  Its helped with the plan, which is now to remove the Leylandii & extend the drystone wall all the way around.  Some of the hard landscaping; a patio area and path has been started in the meantime.  It really only leaves me with two smallish borders to plan now.  I'm thinking of a cottage garden look with roses etc.  but then again I want some Winter colour too. Plant suggestions very welcome...I wonder if Santa can send me Joe Swift for Xmas... 

By the way, Dovepondplants - great site, thanks, thats going to be really useful.

I'm also looking out for something nice to put at the end of that path; perhaps something that the birds will like.  Anyone have any equally spectacular websites for garden ornaments?


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