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Once you start weeding and clearing you will get bare patches of earth which you can sow with hardy annuals. You can gradually build up your collection of plants by cuttings etc as Perki says, but in the meantime sow annuals and you will have some colour for the first year that isn't too expensive. You can learn about your garden and plan for it during this year.
Fatsia Japonica http://www.rhs.org.uk/Gardens/Wisley/About-Wisley/Plant-of-the-month/November/Fatsia-japonica
Hostas are hardy and can look exotic, they like shade, but watch out for slugs.
Cannas for sun, but will have to be dug up and put in the garage for winter.
Bamboo, ask for ones that don't spread too much.
There are some good websites to look at.
Glad I helped daydaisy.
I'm leaving mine for a bit, as Chicky says.
My OH is about (I hope) to replace my coldframe lids. He'll be using polycarbonate. Lighter and more insulating than glass.
I used a membrane covered with sand - it was what I had.
They are phlox drumondii, I think, David.
I remember Busy-Lizzies! I still grow them every year from plug plants. Had a few ill ones about three years ago, but all OK since. Perhaps France didn't suffer so much.
This is what I came up with after searching Peter Beales site.
I don't think any rose is really evergreen. You don't give a colour.
I've met you before here Lisa and there are still people here who were there when you last came. The odd one has changed her name though, like Matty 2.
WW Waterperry is beautiful. We went in July 2010.
The long herbaceous border
But it's not just herbaceous borders