Posted: 26/07/2013 at 10:38
Spent ages replying then it disappeared so I'll try again
I know you don't want to hear it Caroline- but you'd be better adding some well rotted manure and extra compost/topsoil to the borders and then you'd have much more scope for planting and anything you put in would have a better chance too. That said, some of the grasses will take those conditions and although they don't give as much colour with flowers, they do provide movement, have attractive foliage and have a long period of interest. Taller ones like Miscanthus for example, would also give some shade. Crocosmia will grow just about anywhere and flowers later- plenty of named varieties. Alchemilla (lady's mantle) can be invasive if allowed to seed, but will provide frothy flowers for months. Most of the hardy geraniums will take harsh conditions and although they flower early, if you cut them right back at this time of year they bounce back and give a second display at the end of summer. Whatever you plant, if you water them in well and apply a good thick mulch it will benefit the plants and prevent evaporation.