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By Lausie

London, United Kingdom Gb

I have a small city paved garden which has a little border at the back, around 4m long and 0.75m wide (see photo). The majority of it catches all day sun but a small section is behind a shed thus quite shadey.

For a long time now I've wanted to create a really nice and interesting border but really just don't know where to begin. I've just spent a few days looking on various websites trying to work out what to get. I'm not really into flowers, rather coloured foliage of different heights and sizes. At the same time I realise my border isn't very deep so layering could be difficult.

The following have caught my eye so far:-

Blue Oat Grass
Turf Lily
Wingled Spindle Tree (compact variety)
Hosta Gold Standard
Emerald Gaiety (would this be easy to cut back so that it keeps within my available space?)
Leather Leaf Sedge
Flaming Silver Lily of the Valley Shrub
Japanese Tassle Fern
Carex Comans Frosted Curls Sedge Grasses

I suppose my thoughts are that I could have 3 bigger shrubs surrounded by smaller, lower level plants. Ideally I'd like as much evergreen as possible.

Perhaps some of the more experiences gardeners out there would let me have their thoughts on my selection - am I looking at too many plants for the space available, will they not work well together etc etc.

Many thanks in advance,




I think your plant selection would work fine Lausie. The Euonymus Emerald Gaiety responds extremely well to pruning/trimming so absolutely no problem there.

Regarding the amount of plants for the space, I would say that's fine indeed once planted, you may find space for a couple more! Remember, nothing needs to be permanent and you can tweak them if they don't look right. That's half the fun of gardening.

28 Jun, 2010


Many thanks for such a prompt reply Fractal – glad to hear I’m not totally off with my planning!

28 Jun, 2010


Something you need to consider, though - the Pieris (Lily of the Valley shrub) must have acid soil. Do you know what soil you have? You can get a simple test kit very cheaply from a Garden Centre, or take a look at what your neighbours grow. If there are Rhododendrons/Azaleas/Camellias, then it's likely to be acid where you live.

I 'do' like your design ideas, by the way, I just don't want you to pay out for a shrub that won't thrive.

28 Jun, 2010


Oooh, good point – I’m not sure what my soil type is so I’ll grab a testing kit over the weekend and find out.

Saying that, in a ridiculously bad attempt to make a start on the garden earlier this year, I did plant 3 azaleas which haven’t survived too well. One of them is still vaguely alive, which you can see in the photo. However, I thought that had more to do with my dog weeing on them (something which she doesn’t do now)!!

It would be such a shame if my soil isn’t acidic enough for the Lily-of-the-Valley, the colour is absolutely stunning!

28 Jun, 2010


Have you got room for a pot? I have one in a large pot of ericaceous compost in dappled shade, and it's doing well there.

28 Jun, 2010

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