Posted: 02/02/2013 at 12:29
Thank you so much everyone for your advice!
Lavender Lady, your garden is stunning! It gives me hope to see what you have achieved. Like you, privacy is our biggest problem (along with being in deep shade most of the year!) but your fences and walls look amazing! Such a beautiful, lush garden, but with a strong structure too.
Can I ask how you keep your gravel clean? We have terrible trouble with ours in the winter - it's impossible to get all the soggy fallen leaves up, and by the time the debris from the bird feeders has fallen on it too, it's disgusting. Last week I tried to clean it with hot water (prefer wildlife-safe solutions), and it's still sitting on top of the soggy gravel in a big puddle! I think I'd like to get rid of the gravel, rip up the weed suppressing plastic altogether!
I was delighted to hear that you have a visiting hedgehog - that's so rare on new estates!
Busy Lizzie, thank you for your small tree suggestions. I didn't know rowan stayed small, so that's great - they're light and airy and good berries for birds too. We already have an amelanchier - beautiful blossom and amazing autumn colour, though it hasn't performed so well in the last few years, which I put down to the soggy summers. I'll have a look at crab apples too.
Nut cutlet - I had better heed your warning about willow. I'll just have to admire others from a distance!
Flowering Rose, thanks for suggesting a Hawthorn Hedge. I like that idea too, not least for the blossom and being good for wildlife.
By the way, is there always a correlation between the size / height of a tree or shrub and the potential problems with roots? Just wondering if there's an easy way to tell?