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We do not have weed suppressing plastic underneath our gravel. We put down a good layer of hardcore and a thick layer of sand on top of that and then the gravel on top of that, we do not get a problem with weeds. This helps with the drainage (with the garden being clay) therefore any water just drains away. I rake up the leaves etc and it just keeps itself clean from rain etc.
I would think twice about pyracantha in a tight space unless you are really going to keep it under control. Birds love them but they are very very prickly. I let mine get too big, about 3 m in every direction and it was a nightmare to get back to a reasonable size.
Pyracantha is thorny but is naturally upward in its growth and very easy to trim if it does send out horizontal shoots. It is a good foil for showier clematis. You need some horizontal stems for density but any that stick outwards can be safely removed without harming the plant or passers by.
Thank you bunnysgarden. Cannot wait for the spring can you?
We have snow again !!!!! and more forecast for tomorrow. The ground is frozen solid so no able get out in the garden just yet. I am making plans though, am going to plant a box hedge around my front garden. Just a little bit inspired by Monty Don's French gardens last night. The front already has lots of foxgloves, roses, lavender so I think a box hedge will just finish the look. Mind you is going to take quite a lot of box hedging I will be taking cuttings from my box I already have and will have to wait a couple of years before it is big enough to plant out. I have found that box does grow quickly though so hopefully not to long before I can put my plan into action.
I have a low box hedge around one of my front beds - 7m x 4m and bounded by 3 trellis panels for climbing roses in one corner and then box hedge for the rest. It's planted up with Gertrude Jekyll, Sceptr'd Isle and William Shakespeare roses plus geranium marcrorhizum, aquilegias, alliums, oriental poppies, cyclamens and other bulbs plus assorted clematis on obelisks and the hedge just keeps it all together especially in winter.
Everyone seems to forget that if you prune a hedge that inhibits potential root formation. In heavy clay Beech is not a good idea so I would use Hornbeam. It keeps it leaves and looks smart when established (at least 3 years after planting depending on initial plant size).
Hornbeam can be kept less than 20cm thick, roots are not a problem (in clay soil you want it to soak up water much of the time), so that is the hedge plant that I would suggest. It does look very similar to Beech and also keeps its leaves.
For privacy laurel is good but it gets very thick, to thick unless you have 1-2 metre at least to let it get thick. Thuja is also worth a look at - it takes a good prune and is a great privacy screen, Bamboo is also another good screen for urban gardens and it is light enough to let light in.
I agree. Hornbeam is good for a damp site or heavy soil but is less wildlife friendly as pyracantha which can also be kept quite narrow.
Since I'm a fan of clematis and other climbing plants, and since there isn't much room for roots, I like the suggestion of pyracantha with clematis through it, obelixx. I find pyracantha quite slow-growing, though. It would take time to come to something. Clematis Montana is great, but is obviouslt tall and thinnish, so trained across a strong fence or trellis would not clothe the bottom much. I'd favour a mixed climber 'hedge' with different plants providing interest througout the year - various early and later clematis, jasmine and perhaps trachelospermum for scent, a rose and the pyracantha for winter interest and structure throughout the year. No huge roots involved, something for neighbours to admire and enjoy as they pass and beauty and perfume in the garden. Small-space gardening requires viertical gardening, as Lavender Lady's glorious photographs show.