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By Bondy

Wiltshire, United Kingdom Gb

What plants for a raised planter?

Can you help a complete novice please.

We have just had two raised planters put in with soil area 1 metre by 2.5 metres. They are positioned in a south facing garden in Wiltshire (south west England) and have full sun all day. At the moment they are empty and I would love some advice on what plants to put in them.

The garden is a bit dreary with no other areas with flowers and so lots of colour for as long as possible throughout the year rather than just green would be preferable. To be honest I don’t really know where to start!

I imagine there should be tall things in the middle and then reducing in height towards the edges with some plants draping over the edge (which is seating height). A bit of research has provided me with some plant names which look nice, but again I’m not sure if there are really suitable, namely Foxglove, Golden Sword Yucca, Cone Flower, Chinese Hibiscus, Rudbeckia.

Ideally a plan for each planter would be fantastic (or maybe they should be identical as they are either side of the patio?) or just some advice on particular plants would also be great. And I guess if we had a choice we would prefer plants with big flowers and leaves (if that makes sense!)

Many thanks in advance!



If you are a complete novice who plans to learn I would suggest you put in annuals this year - if you have the cash to spare you can buy these as small plants later in spring from any garden centre. This will give you time to look around other gardens near you to see what you like and what seems healthy, and to read up on plants that appeal to you - a book from the library if you still have one would be very useful.

A Yucca certainly has big leaves and would like the sun but it probably wouldn't flower for a few years and it would get rather big - also it might look a bit out of character with the more "cottagey" plants you listed. Foxgloves usually grow leaves only the first year and flower the second and then die, leaving lots of seedlings wherever the seeds happen to fall.

Chinese Hibiscus is tender and would not survive outside here in winter.

If you want to plant once and forget it you'll need a different sort of planting than if you want to "garden" it. But in that case big flowers for most of the year would be a non starter.So more info about what your plans are would help.

23 Feb, 2016


More information please - although it's great you've said what the mass of soil is, and the light levels, can you please say how long, wide, and particularly how deep these beds are please? And is there drainage at the bottom of the beds?

23 Feb, 2016


Hi all, thanks for your responses.

The size of each bed is 1m x 2.5m x 60cm deep and there is drainage in the bottom.

I/we would prefer less rather than more maintenance / gardening. So maybe my initial idea of lots of flowers is a non-starter.

I will certainly continue to do some research but any advice is greatly appreciated.

23 Feb, 2016


Right. Heres a suggestion. I'm thinking least effort for colourul results .

Perhaps you could put an Ilex crenata fastigiata in the centre of each area which will slowly get to about six feet tall but stay pencil slim. It has tiny leaves and is evergreen.
For this year you could spend money and surround it with pelargoniums, which need very little maintenance but won't overwinter. Or if you want to economise plant some DWARF nasturtium seeds - don't get the trailing ones!!!Take them out in October and plant daffodil bulbs with crocuses round the edges. Then next spring plant some perennial geraniums.They come in many shades of blue and pink but ask about varieties as they vary in height and some would be too tall. . A few of these will give you flowers all summer. They disappear in winter and return next spring when the daffodils are over.
After that it will need little maintenance, jut removing any weeds that try to pop up and tidying the geraniums if they get too big. I have tried to think of things that flower nicely but don't need watering every day.

If you're in a hurry get the geraniums this year and pop the daffs in where you can in Sept or Oct. Be aware that many people still call pelargoniums geraniums - tell the nursery that you want the herbaceous ones.

23 Feb, 2016


If you want low maintenance - I would go with evergreen shrubs/perennials.
If either planter backs onto a wall or fence you can double up on space by putting a trellis - or wires up onto the wall/fence. I would plant Trachelospermum jasminoides on this (an evergreen climber with very scented white flowers in summer.)
For shrubs, an Abelia (try a compact form like 'Edward Groucher') is easy to prune to shape and flowers for ages during summer and autumn.
Euonymous - can come in silvers or golds and are as tough as old boots.
Hebes - again many leaf colours and flower colours and sizes.
For cascading over the front - a trailing rosemary would be lovely and has blue flowers in summer.
You could pop in a Vinca - one of the smaller ones that would run among it all. There's a lovely wine-coloured one but I don't know the name.
you say they are filled with soil. If they are I would dig 8" or so out and add some garden compost or multipurpose compost. Otherwise it might end up very compact and hard to plant in. To retain the health and vigour of your plants, add a top dressing (just an inch or two) of compost each year and a scattering of fertiliser in the spring. You could also mulch between the plants with bark chips to keep the moisture in.
If you want to have different styles - you could replace the top 8" of one planter with ericaceous compost and then plant it with 'acid' loving plants. There are several Pieris varieties that have lovely colourful new foliage as well as flowers. Evergreen Azaleas for late spring vivid colour and heathers in front.
Definitely plant small Daffodils in both, they are colourful and scented.
Any gaps - try Sages, green, silver or purple. A hardy fuchsia will flower from early summer till winter - not evergreen but there is a lovely gold foliage one.

23 Feb, 2016


Thanks for the information, this is great stuff!

23 Feb, 2016


Yes I would go with Hoya105 ,s suggestions I love ,euonymous, hebes ,heathers ,also sage and rosemary and the other plants suggested hope it all turns out as you want it .

24 Feb, 2016


Thanks again everyone.

Is there a particular website you would recommend to buy the plants from or are they all much of a muchness?

24 Feb, 2016


I hope you don't feel I'm putting a dampener on things, but, now that I know the size of these beds, bear in mind that whatever you plant, you won't get much in there, so what you choose should be based on the spread of the plants as much as the height. I'm assuming 2.5m is the length and 1 metre is the width from front to back, which means that even 3 Skimmia (considered a small shrub), average spread 90-100 cms, will fill the bed completely from end to end. Given that's the case, I've made a few recommendations below, but would add, if you actually wanted a drawing to scale, that isn't something anyone's likely to provide for free if they're a professional...Most of those listed flower, some are valued for their leaf colour, the majority are evergreen

Have a look at these:

Yucca flaccida 'Golden Sword'
Ophiopogon nigrescens
Helianthemum Ben series (Ben Mohr, Ben Fhada being examples)
Hebe youngii
Silene schafta
Erodium varieties
Sisyrinchium striata 'Aunt May'
Verbena bonariensis
Crocosmia Lucifer
Berberis atropurpureum 'nana' or Berberis 'Bagatelle'

Usually, I'd suggest Heuchera varieties, because of their leaf colour range, but the trouble is, in containers, they are very prone to vine weevil problems. Dwarf varieties of lavender such as L. augustifolia 'Miss Muffet' would work well, but need clipping over twice a year and will need replacing after five years, because they get leggy. I'm not suggesting you use them all, but they're all worth checking out... I haven't put Rudbeckia on the list because they disappear below ground completely in winter, and in a container, are more vulnerable to dying over winter; if they survive, they have a tendency to 'creep' (meaning they pop up near where you planted but not the same place) and they spread quite a bit - these aren't necessarily desirable traits in a contained, closely planted space, but you could always try some.

24 Feb, 2016


Thanks Bamboo. I now taken Rudbeckia off my list! How do you feel about foxglove?

24 Feb, 2016


Up to you - I like the flowers in spring, like everyone else, but they are essentially biennial, meaning they form basal leaves in their first year and flower in their second, then set seed, so ongoing, you'd need to shake the seed over the area, then remove any seedlings you don't want. This is easy in a planted bed in the ground, but not quite so easy in an area with restricted space and denser planting. In theory, there are perennial forms of foxglove, but they're not reliably perennial, so are usually treated as annuals or biennials.

If, as you describe, the rest of the garden is 'dreary', maybe you could create a bed or border in the ground somewhere and plant foxgloves, rudbeckia and anything else you fancied!

24 Feb, 2016


A Yucca is definitely a No No. OK for poor soil area in a corner of a park. Even then after a few years they get a
motorised digger to get the wretched thing out.

25 Feb, 2016


Oh dear, Diane - whilst that might be true of some Yuccas, the variety I've listed (Yucca flaccida Golden Sword) only reaches a max height of 2-2.5 feet, with a spread of about a foot or foot and a half. You are probably thinking of Yucca gloriosa, which does grow very large.

26 Feb, 2016


Just letting you know that I popped to a garden centre and picked up some Hebes and Berberis to get me started. It's difficult to really get a good impression of what they look like online so a trip to the garden centre was great.

Space is indeed a bit of an issue though as you rightly said Bamboo so I've only got a few in right now but they looks better already!

Thanks again everyone.

27 Feb, 2016


I only know the one I had to dig out. Took all afternoon.
Even now the bits of root are still coming up.

28 Feb, 2016

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