Lovely to see the bigger picture of your garden David.
Roses and clematis are coming out now.
I wanted a big pot when I was short of funds so I used an old dustbin and painted it to look like stone, mottled beige to match the walls of my house.
She was probably afraid you were going to cut off her bit.
We've had rain and wind since my last post but the last 2 or 3 days have been pleasant, sun and cloud, temperatures in the teens, cooler that usual for Dordogne in May.
Would Choisya be any good? You can prune it too stop it being too big.
I have Vinca Minor under a conifer, doing fine. But do you really need anything under them? You could make island beds in the lawn and plant pretty perennials.
That is gorgeous. I don't have a tree peony, but here is what the RHS says about looking after it, pruning included. https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/profile?PID=711
Could they have been talking about the variagated one? I have some as ground cover. It's a thug, but nothing like the weed one and mush prettier. Deer don't eat it so if you have deer it can be useful.