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my garden is dire, i would like to make it look much nicer all year round

i have two beds either side one side shady the other sunny and some very very patchy grass in the middle.

last year i planted wild flowers which look great but once Autmn arrived everything died and look bare and horrendious.


i am wondering if anyone has any ideas on some affordable plants i can use that will at least attempt to survive all year, possibly flower if im not asking much. 

i love to take photos of wildlife, insects. are there any flowers/plant that would attract these?

any advice would be great


Thank you


Hi incojim

If you do some web searches 'Plants for bees', 'plants for wildlife' etc you'll get long lists. You don't have to spend a lot, there are plenty of cheaper plants than the expensive latest fashions. Get some bulbs in, they'll come every year and a buddlia, bees love those. 

Gardening Grandma

Some plants come easily from cuttings - e.g. buddleia, hydrangeas, leycesterias (Japanese honeysuckle) so you may be able to just ask friends for pieces to bring on in pots. They grow fairly quickly, too, and you'll find instructions on how to do it online.  You can get perennials from seed, too, of course. Some perennials increase fast and you can collect these from other gardeners, or buy them cheaply from open gardens. Japanese anemones are an example. There are bulbs that flower in summer, as well as spring bulbs, and these will usually increase every yeat, such as crocosmias. I grew buddleia from seed, too. They root really easily. Once you get the bug, you won't be able to stop!


When you're starting out in gardening, it's really helpful to go round some other gardens, the sort that are open to the public if you can, and look at the flower beds in the sun and in the shade, and make notes of the plants that you like, the plants they look good next to, the colours and the textures, and the proportions of the beds.

Some gardens are  open in the winter, showing you gardens that have structure and texture and look good in frost and snow, even without flowers.  

Take a camera and a notebook with you - no matter how good your memory is, it won't be good enough 


I'm not the most experienced gardener but i think the thing that makes a garden is to have some structural plants which are there all year and mix in a blend of different plants that mature at different times, this way they are always changing different plants taking the stage at different times of the year. growing from seed is great but cuttings and a well selected perenial or 3 will help keep things moving.



Erysimum Bowles Mauve is a terific doer. It flowers for 10 - 12 months of the year, is cheap to buy and propagates very easily from cuttings taken any time other than mid winter. It flowers so much it exhausts itself after two or three years - going woody and flopping over, but by then you could have lots of propagated replacements. 

Cornus Midwinter Fire looks fantastic from November till April, with stems that make it look as if it really is on fire. It propagates easily from suckers - I have given away six in the last three years. It costs around £7 to buy - I saw a large one at a garden centre last week reduced from £40 to £20 - mine was bigger and better looking within two years of planting. 

Lovely to have shade and sun borders.
If soil is good on shady side I'd plant a couple of shrubs. Sarcoccoca, hydrangeas and skimmias good evergreen and body. Couple of ferns, astilbes hellebores, astrantias. How long is this border? Don't plant it totally with perennials for now.....I would use new guinea impatiens in between.
On sunny side, again if soil is ok, Potentillas give summer colour, albeit not evergreen, berberis Darwinii, senecio with its grey foliage n yellow flowers, and buddleia ...wht better for attracting bees n butterflies? Mounds of foliage like santolina interspersed with asters, lupins, ornamental grasses, etc.
Verbena bonariensis,is a fantastic tall, see through plant always attracting bees etc and looks amazing for months.
Again though, don't overpaint with expensive perennials right now.....use summer annuals in between. There will be plants you will want to plant as time goes by

Our Mahonia Japonica is a good all-year round plant. It's flowered for the past 6-7 months (good for the bee's!), and should in the coming months have it's yearly crop of berries (which the birds love).

I'd also include some spring flowering bulbs - daffs, crocus, snowdrops, bluebells etc. It's so uplifting to see them, and they come back year after year.

Maybe not the right time to plant them now, but later in the year ( maybe if you take up the suggestion for annuals as fillers this season), you can pop them in for a display next spring.

Nooooo! not Bluebells! They spread like crazy and damage other plants

Not keen then?
Hunter tony, I agree totally that bluebells should not go into the garden unless in a wild spot somewhere.
They do invade, take over and spoil other plants
A friend has woodland with bluebells naturalising there with daffodils and,they look superb......but in that situation not a garden one

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