Tricky gardening question

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bonniethomas06
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Tricky gardening question

Post: #221758 bonniethomas06
Mon Jan 24, 2011 10:21 am

Hi,
I know this is not very ishy in that it is flowers not veg, but I know there are some execllent flower gardeners amongst our number and thought I would pick some brains.

Part of my cottage garden is walled on two sides by an eight foot stone wall with two trees at the back of the boarder.

Last year was a bit disasterous, in that the part shade loving plants struggled and there were ugly patches of bare soil everywhere.

I really need height and interest in this patch - and as we are renting (and don't konw how long we will be in our house) I need anything I plant to be quite fast growing.

Can anyone suggest a fast growing shrub (as I plan to have ferns at the mid level and low growers not a problem) that loves full shade and can tollerate dry soil (as the tree roots suck up most of the moisture)??

And if that is not too much to ask, do you think I could get away with some astilbe - if I lay a basin of old pond liner/newspaper/cardboard/plastic underneath to prevent moisture loss (as I know they are bog plants).

Sorry to ask so many questions, but I have scoured tinternet for ages and nothing seems to fit the bill.

Thanks
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Big Al
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Re: Tricky gardening question

Post: #221759 Big Al
Mon Jan 24, 2011 10:40 am

astilbie will grow if you keep the area wet and acidic. If you are putting in a liner etc to retain the moisture then why not incorporate loads of horse manure and some acidifying compost to help the astilbies on their way.

I'll look in my books for quick growing shade tollereny plants and report back soon in case I can help.

By the way, why is growing flowers not "ish" ? Flowers make you feel good, can provide food for you and the wildlife, be part of an ecosystem, solve problems of boggy garden soil and a whole load more reasons......... Well that's my take on it.

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Re: Tricky gardening question

Post: #221775 Millymollymandy
Mon Jan 24, 2011 11:57 am

The plants probably struggled last year because of the long dry spell that England had and shade lovers usually like moisture. Even those that can tolerate dry shade struggle if it is really dry plus with tree roots sucking what little moisture out of the soil.

I can't recommend any shrubs offhand - I think this is a case of googling as you are bound to come up with lists of plants that way - but do you really want a fast growing shrub that will cost you good money and you will probably have to leave behind when you go? What about annuals?

I have an astilbe - hasn't grown really big but is in mostly full shade where the soil stays moister because of that but when it dries out there's nothing I can do about it and it survived and flowered despite the dry summer! My soil is neutral.

Actually just had thought about your shrub - how about Japanese Anemones which are autumn flowering perennials - they don't like my garden :( but normally they grow fast and spread and become quite troublesome, and they like shade/part shade. Something like that could then be dug up (or part of it dug up) to take with you whenever you move on.

By the way can I move this to the appropriate section for flowers? :flower:
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bonniethomas06
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Re: Tricky gardening question

Post: #221784 bonniethomas06
Mon Jan 24, 2011 12:42 pm

Thanks MMM, please go ahead and move it - I have never realised there is a flowers section!

Have googled lots - So far I seem to be looking at ferns, cotinus and pittosporum - don't want to end up with yet another variagated japonica and skimmia etc so just wondered if anyone had particular success with something more unusual.

Will definitely go for Astilbe - have had them die on me before because of drought, but this time I will be more clever with mulch/humus rich soil than before. You are right, it was soooooo dry last time, really hope that doesn't happen again because it stunted so much in my garden.

And although I shouldn't, I can't resist buying plants - even shrubs. I always try to propagate cuttings etc so that I have mini versions of my garden ready to go if I move - but I think we will be here for at least two more years, so worth it. Plus I like the feeling of leaving a space looking better than when I arrived. :flower:
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Re: Tricky gardening question

Post: #221786 Millymollymandy
Mon Jan 24, 2011 12:58 pm

Cotinus/smoke bushes are beautiful and really drought tolerant but are very slow growing. Mine are out in full sun but I guess most things will grow in part shade.

I do have a quite fast growing shrub but probably a bit ordinary for you - just a variegated eleagnus but looks lovely all through winter with bright goldeny/yellow and green leaves and has quadrupled in size in 4 years and is exceedingly drought and wind tolerant (which is why I bought it).

Dry shade is a difficult one! But most ferns like to be moist apart from a few bog standard ones that can take dryness - think it is the 'male fern' (Dryopteris filix-mas) which is best. That one just self seeds here like a bloomin' weed!
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Re: Tricky gardening question

Post: #222098 phil55494
Wed Jan 26, 2011 10:51 pm

Two questions, how much shade are you wanting to grow in and how high are you wanting the plants to get to?
I was wondering about some of the woodland edge type plants, ferns you have, what about foxgloves? The standard purple ones can grow as tall as me (6ft) in our garden and you can get all sorts of white and slightly different coloured variations.

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Re: Tricky gardening question

Post: #222118 boboff
Thu Jan 27, 2011 8:11 am

What about pernennial fennel, this is about 6ft, and grows ok at the back of a dry border.

The Rhoddedenrum? Seems Perfect if your soil is a bit acidic, also some Hydrangeas may be ok, giant Rhubarb stuff, Hostas etc.

What about a structure and some thornless Blackberries? In terms of ish, at least some of my suggestions were edible!
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Re: Tricky gardening question

Post: #222147 Millymollymandy
Thu Jan 27, 2011 11:59 am

Hostas and hydrangeas no good for dry shade. That's the difference, moist shade is EASY PEASY. Dry shade is a nightmare!
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bonniethomas06
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Re: Tricky gardening question

Post: #222151 bonniethomas06
Thu Jan 27, 2011 12:12 pm

Thanks guys - I would go for Rhodos, but I have alkaline clay. So far I have ordered these, which seem to tollerate dry shade:
Osmanthus × burkwoodii
Dogwood (variegated - cornus)
Tiarella (foam flower - rampant apparently but would be a nice change from bare earth)
Aqueligia
A soft shield fern and a couple of other ferns that are native and cope with dry soil.
And will also try some lilly of the valley (apparently can cope with dry if watered until established)
and sod it - as I need some colour in that patch, I am going to buy an Astilbe and plant it with some of those gel crystals and with an old compost bag underneath to act as a 'sink'.

Thanks for the advice - to answer your questions, it is TOTAL shade for the main part (i.e in the corner of 2 8ft walls facing north east) and heavy shade where the tree canopy (tree planted in the corner) is. I do have some foxgloves, and will try to increase numbers this year, but the ones planted in the heavy shade just leaned forwards last year to try and get the light.

I like the idea of blackberries, but have them in the veg patch - they are productive but not pretty enough for my cottage garden!
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