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I have nearly fininshed digging my border and am looking for inspiration for an all round the year planting scheme. The border is 1m deep and 20m long with a couple of ins and out ie. not straight. It is backed by a 3m high brick wall and faces north. The garden is surrounded on all sides but can still attract quite strong gusts of wind. The garden is narrow and I read somewhere that if you keep to pastel shades it will create an illusion of depth. Can anyone pelase help me with some planting ideas. Thanks

Emma Crawforth

Hello Rubber,

You've given us a bit of a challenge there! I would recommend starting with climbers suitable for a north wall:

Hydrangea anomala subsp. petiolaris, Garrya elliptica  - esp. 'James Roof' and various species of Parthenocissus. Variegated ivy would provide some nice pale colours, but in shade it tends to be less variegated!

You'll need some woody plants to provide some depth and height. Try variegated holly and Euonymus fortunei cultivars, Chaenomeles x superba, Cotoneaster species, Jasminum nudiflorum and Mahonia aquifolium cultivars.

At the base of all those you can plant some herbaceous perennials. The following will tolerate dry shade. You haven't said the border is either of those things but given that it's next to a three metre wall I'm assuming it's both. So try these:

Epimedium species, Heuchera cultivars, variegated vincas (vinca can be invasive, picking a variegated one makes this less likely), Brunnera macrophylla.

You can go to town on some of the spring bulbs - snowdrops, wood anemones and white siberian squill would suit you.

Polystichum and Dryopteris ferns usually cope well with dry shade. Keep them well-watered when you first plant them.

In the summer you can use bedding plants that don't mind shade - begonias and bizzie lizzies will take it.

None of my recommendations takes into account your soil type so do a soil test and check before buying that each of these is suitable for your soil.

I agree that pastel and white plants will help the area look brighter, but if you stick to those you'll have no structure, so pick them where you can - i.e. in bedding, bulbs and variegated plants.

Good luck, it sounds like a fun project to work on. Let us know how you get on.

Emma. team


Thanks Emma you have given me some ideas to get me started.


This is a photo I took this morning of the wall and border in front.

<img id="wc24:lrImg2" src="" alt="" width="580" height="386" />


<img id="wc15:lrImg2" src="" alt="" width="580" height="386" />


i love oak leafed hydrangers in shady corners


Emma Crawforth

Hello Rubber again,

I can see from the photo that you are getting some sunshine. This made me think about some of the lovely easy-care herbaceous perennials, like Rudbeckia and Echinacea. They'll flower like mad in a sunny spot. Other lovely choices for some colour in a sunny spot can be seen in our late-summer feature:

Emma team


An update on the border. For wall climbers I plnted 2 roses, a quince, a cotoneaster , the evergreen hydranga, a ceonanthus and several clematis. Unfortunately the clematis died and the hydrangas are struggling. The most successful so far is the ceonanthus which is interesting as it said on the label plant in full sun! in front of the wall I have planted a variety of perenials sticking to a blue and pink colour scheme with the odd white flower here and there. I will post a picture later in the year when everything is in flower.

What type of clematis did you plant?

I would recommend Alpinas and Macropetalas both hardy and fussy were planted, and no pruning


One was armandi because I thought an evergreen one would provide all round interest but unfortunately it died quite quickly. The others were the large flowering summer ones. Will look at the ones you suggested.

Armandi dont like cold winds, I grow about 60 different clematis in my garden. But I don't grow the large flowered varieties. 

If you want any ideas have a look on clematis on the web, its run by Hull university. 

My 2 Armandi are growing on a south facing wall.

If you would like any advice you can message me if you like.


Hiya rubber, just noticed this thread

I would plant a honeysuckle on that wall.....prob two different varieties.  Think,of,the scent. 

A metre deep is not a lot so I wouldn't cram a lot of different things in groups of threes I think

I would also plant brunnera hadspen cream....beautiful forget me not blue flowers in spring and early summer, a hardy geranium called Margaret Wilson for its almost white foliage, ophiopogon a black grass like plant, and a favourite grass of mine called hackonechloa, ESP if you can dig in some goodness too for it.  Bowles golden grass is a lovely yellow grass that will associate well with Heucheras there.  There are some well behaved carex too with foliage colours ranging from red to yellow to almost white. Another grass that lights up the late winter until mid summer is Arrhenatherum bulbosum...........variegated foliage with a clean white vertical look.  Check it out.  Euonymous emerald n gold is a superb evergreen compact shrub for all year round impact.  Two other shrubs worth considering are sarcoccoca ...sweet box for its wonderful winter scent and daphne odora aureomarginata for it's lovely foliage and perfume in spring.

I would add daffodils there too,,of course.   


Thanks for your ideas.


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