Q. The area where I wish to place a trellis climber will be in the shade of my garage and not therefore in a sunny spot. Could you please recommend a suitable foliage and/or flowering climber that I can plant in a container.
A. I'm not a great fan of climbers in containers as they can grow pretty big and then they either don't do well or you have an awful lot of watering and feeding to do.
Clematis are a good bet for such a position, they prefer some sunshine if possible, but you don't have the problem of the flower colour fading if they are in some shade, Jackmanii hybrids should do well.
Ivies of low vigour will also be good, make sure they don't get a hold of a wall to grow up if you don't want them to. Avoid the variegated or yellow leaved varieties as they will go darker and revert to green in the shade. "Duckfoot", "Tres Coupe" or "Parsley crested" would be suitable (the latter in a larger container).
Q. I want to grow a fairly fast growing ivy (or other suggestion) up the west facing wall of my house. The wall gets full on sun from 2pm to sundown. I would preferably like something evergreen or at least for 3 seasons good coverage. Any suggestions?
A. I think ivy is your best bet here. There are many varieties available. As a rule of thumb, they grow faster the more green they have on the leaf, the variegated or yellowish ones being less vigorous. They also colour-up better in full sunshine, though it sounds as though you have enough for a good colour to develop if you go for a variegated variety.
Green varieties "Saggitifolia", Variegated "Sulphur heart" aka "Paddy's Pride", "Goldheart" - also has nice red-coloured young stems.
Q. Help!! On the north west side of the garden is a six ft high wooden fence, with mature trees behind in next doors garden. The border I inherited along this fence (40-50ft in length) contained nettles, bracken and snowberry. I have just had it dug out and a reduced to about 3 ft in width as I am no gardener. It is very shady for most of the day. What bushes and/or ground cover plants would suit such an area? I live in Sproughton, the soil is very good quality and moist with a lot of compost just dug in. Any inexpensive ideas? I am sure that I could find a lot of willing people who would give me cuttings, but which ones should I go for? I do hope you can help.
A. That's a long border that you've got and will need a lot of plants to fill it up! I could give you a long list of plants that would be suitable, but you'd then have a new job tracking them down and then would probably not be able to find the exact ones where you live that are quite common where I am.
The answer lies I think in the fact that you say you can find lots of people willing to give you cuttings. If this is the case, you can get a good idea of what the mature plant will look like and also where it is growing in their garden. Ask for cuttings from the shady parts! Also, I presume that these people are local, in which case the plants that they have will be suited to your local soil and weather conditions.
As you have reduced the width of the border go for relatively low plants. Taller shrubs in particular tend to spread out as far as they are tall, so you might get a plant that covers your fence admirably, but then spreads too far into your lawn. You could also look at growing plants from seed. Delphiniums, Lupins, Foxgloves and Hollyhocks are large perennials that can be easily grown this way saving yourself a fortune in garden centre bought plants in the process. Small ornamental conifers that grow to 6 - 10 ft will be good too as they will give height without width, go for the plain green ones as the variegated types need full sun to bring out their colour.
Height: between 2 and 4 metres,
It is intended for a mostly sunny spot which is fairly well sheltered. I had considered an Acer but think that the intensity of sunlight might damage the leaves. Have you any suggestions, please?
A. You're right about Acers, they need some shade so as not to be scorched, also, they're quite dense, while individual leaves can be quite filigree, the overall effect can be quite dense coverage.
The obvious answer to my mind is a bamboo which fulfils all of your characteristics admirably. They'll stand the sun and will give an open effect, particularly as the leaves move in the breeze, the shelter is ideal and will stop them from getting wind scorched and by a careful choice of variety, you will get the right height. The only aspect that might not fit with your requirements is that they form a clump rather than having a single trunk.
Others - Dogwood, such as Cornus alba "elegantissima", variegated leaves. Spirea arguta "The bride" arching and so doesn't appear so dense. Most shrubs however will be pretty dense.
Q. I want to find a tall thin plant to put in a narrow flowerbed to act as a screen so that I'm not overlooked by a neighbour's window. It mustn't be too tall or too bushy as I don't want to block their light - something about 6-7' tall which grows up rather than bushing out would be ideal. It mustn't be too high maintenance as I'm disabled & can't do much gardening (occasional pruning no problem) & mustn't be high pollen / scented as I have hay fever! I can't think of anything - do you have any suggestions?
I should also perhaps have said that the flowerbed is mostly in shade, though it gets a bit of early morning & late afternoon sun, that the soil is rich clay, slightly alkaline, & that to fit in with the colour scheme in that part of the garden any flowers should ideally be white/yellow/blue/purple (ie not red/orange/pink).
1/ Trellis held up by two 3" square posts with a climber growing up it - instant and fits your very precise requirements. Space taken by trellis irrelevant as it doesn't root! Grow an ivy up it, not variegated as there's little sun, could also grow Clematis, but deciduous, many will grow and flower in partial shade - in fact prefer it.
2/ 2 x obelisks, metal or wood, easy to make if you're "handy" or know someone who is. Grow ivy or Clematis as before.
3/ Privet - sounds boring, but takes to trimming very well and grows quickly, you could topiary (topiarize?) it into a more interesting shape. Golden privet could be used, not so fast growing, won't be really golden due to little sun.
4/ Lonicera nitida - same idea as privet, smaller leaves. Golden version available too, "Baggesen's Gold".
5/ Conifers, Juniperus "skyrocket" or Italian Cypress.
Q. I have a 52ft border (about 80cm wide) which spends all day in the shade. Can you recommend what plants to put there ? I am on a budget but would like something with a splash of colour if possible.
A. House builders have quite a knack for making odd shaped bits of the garden that don't really give much option of what to do with them. If the shady part is damp rather than dry then the options are opened up enormously.
First of all you can cover part of the fence with climbers, don't use self-clingers such as ivy as they keep the fence damp and decrease its life. Put up support wires and plenty of them.
Plants to use:
For seasonal colour use
Also, you could plant a tree/s in the border, as long as you trim the branches on the pathward side, they'll grow up to the light and spill over the path above head height eventually.
That should keep you busy for a while, I suggest you look them up in a book first before going to the garden centre and make a list before you go or it'll be like going to the supermarket when you're hungry - loads of food, but nothing to make a sensible meal out of - or is that just me?
Q. We are new to this area (Exmoor), I have looked at neighbouring gardens to see what grows. We are however in a bad frost pocket, I have lost Fuchsias, and Escallonia and a Potentilla to frosts very early in the autumn, early October. I need frost resistant plant advice please. Saw aconites in frost yesterday in Oxfordshire, they looked happy and healthy. when can I plant?
A. First of all, don't totally give up on your "lost" plants, keep an eye on them and you may find that they start to shoot in the spring when you can cut back the dead stems to the healthy live wood. Fuchsias - many are only half-hardy anyhow. Often it's a question of size, larger plants are more frost-resistant than are smaller specimens.
As for what to plant, most "hardy" plants available in this country are fully frost hardy, but as you've found out - to different degrees, shades of grey rather than black and white. The best strategy is the one you've identified yourself which is look around locally at what does best. If you get late frosts, it'll be as well to avoid early flowering plants though many bulbs are fine. Aconites? plant in the autumn as bulbs.
Q. We are not very good/successful gardeners and to make matters worse we are on solid clay. Hence we have had an extensive area of patio and decking in excess of 80m2 just laid and have decided to have lots of varying sizes of pots around the patio area. However, it appears that we need to be careful in what we plant as we are prone to quite a bit of wind and frost. Could you please suggest plants to put into these pots, some pots are already purchased and quite large. I like the idea of small trees and shrubs. The garden is south facing and is largely in the sun for the majority of the day.
A. If you going to plant a lot of containers, you have to make sure that you're going to water them regularly. They are more effort than having plants in the ground as they can dry out much more quickly having a lesser root system. If you have a lot it may be worth you looking at installing an automatic watering system.
It might sound like I'm avoiding the question, but I'd recommend you buy a good container gardening book as there are literally hundreds of plants you could grow, a book should cost you the same or less than one plant and so will easily pay for itself.
These will be ok in the conditions you describe:
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