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Well, I have been and gone and done it….visited the local garden centre today, (and also last weekend) and purchased 40 bare root natives to put in along the boundary fence that has blighted my garden these past few weeks.

Being a strong believer in that something positive comes out of something negative, and being the kind of gal whose glass is always half full, never half empty, I saw this adversity as a ‘challenge’ and I am rising to it….by painting my Nemesis with native plantings!

So, last weekend (and being a complete novice), I sauntered off to my local Garden Centre to enquire as to what I could possibly plant in solid shade for most of the day up against a 6 foot high panel fence (2 metres to the youngsters out there) that gets the sun first thing in the morning, then a few hours later it sidles around behind this ‘wall’ to cast a long shadow over almost the whole width of my 150 foot long garden. Long and narrow was how they did it back then, in Victorian/Edwardian times and this is my legacy; a plot of around 15-16 foot width by 150 feet long. However, this is NOT going to defeat me as yes, I am also a fighter, I shall rise to this challenge and plant my chosen shrubs, rosa rugosa(white and pink) I have 20 of those (10 of each colour), 10 hawthorn and 10 blackthorn; lovely! ready to go in along this boundary. I do like a bush/shrub/tree with an ‘attitude’ and oh, boy! this lot have that in bucketfuls…

My plan is to let a loose sort of hedge grow to put something back for the wildlife that have lost the natural shrubbery, trees and plantings that was scrubbed up when the new neighbours put up a fence in its place and to my mind is an eyesore and an effrontery to my sensitivities of being a Nature and animal lover, so I am looking forward to a healthy growth spurt of my young natives in the spring when Mother Nature warms up the ground once again after Winter’s blast thawing the ice in the earth and waking the plants up to stir the sap within.

Between then and now I shall be making regular trips to my local Garden Centre, Perrywoods, to see what else I can plant in between my lovely natives, to climb and ramble between them or scramble through them, although I realise not everything is going to thrive in a thick block of shade. The shade will eventually shrink back once the sun starts to climb as the seasons progress and I can only hope to add a splash of colour here and there by adding other ‘shade tolerant’ plants, from the Jasmines and the various honeysuckles and other sorts of plants that will not only give a pleasing patch of colour, but also fruits and berries to feed the wildlife during the autumn and winter months.

My first replacement has already gone in tonight against this fence outside in the border opposite my kitchen door where earlier this autumn I planted 3 small lavender plants; a beautiful honeysuckle, which is evergreen and will have creamy white and tinted, pink-tipped flowers with a heavy scent and that should scramble up and over and explode in a shower and tumble of delicate blooms, filling the summer evenings with its heady perfume and hopefully, if I prune it right, should manage eventually in a couple of years to cover at least one of the dreadful panels.

Ah, yes, already I can see it, in my mind’s eye, the beauty I shall paint on those blank canvases – all the way along with beautiful, gorgeous plantings!

Any suggestions, by the way, will be greatly appreciated! ;^)

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Sounds as if you are working wonders in your garden & certainly on the right track. The honeysuckle will be an absolute delight in the years to come. Pity your not so nice neighbours will have the pleasure of that heavenly scent wafting over the fence & into their garden. But I guess we should be pleased to share the beauty of our gardens with others. Well done! You will certainly enjoy watching your plants growing.

4 Nov, 2012


sounds a bit drastic dixie. keep the hawthorn in check when you plant them it is advised to cut some inches off the top this will encourage bottom growth or you will have some wide gaps at the base,??

4 Nov, 2012


All the very best Dixie, I hope it looks as beautiful as you have imagined it, please will you let us know how it gets on, particularly the rugosa as I wondered about planting that in an area just next to our garden that is quite wild.

4 Nov, 2012


It's a shame you've been put in this situation, but you've got the right attitude. When it happened to me, with tall Ash trees that even took away the afternoon summer sun, ... I moved lol
(but there were other reasons aswell)
Good luck, and I hope you find lots of plants that will please you, and be of benefit to the wildlife :o)

4 Nov, 2012


Well done Dixie on your positive attitude to this gardening challenge !
You asked for suggestions, and mine would be to remember to include a good amount of evergreens and other winter interest plants. :o)

4 Nov, 2012


Good for you Dixie, your plans are coming together, it will be good to see them coming into their own in the coming months.....

4 Nov, 2012


Thank you all! Love your comments, as always.

Snoopdog I will remember your advice and yes I will try to keep them in check although I wasn't planning a hedge as such - I was going to try to intersperse them with other plantings and I will trim the tops to bush them out at the bottom. I never thought of that before so thanks for that tip.

Hi Hywel, yes I was considering a move to Scotland lol, but I hate to be defeated when there are other options to consider. I was just so mad at the erecting of the fence, because it has changed a mature garden's formula completely, but so many of you suggested different things that I just had to try them out...I have yet to meed the neighbours as they aren't due to move in for a year so it could all change again. I hope you found your haven after your move.

Hi Terratoonie, I am looking into some winter colours too, but at the moment I am trying to rein in my spending! I'm like a kid in a sweetie shop at the moment as the garden centre has just this week re-stocked and it looks amazing up there! I just want to buy everything I see and I know I can't afford to! (or have the room width-wise) lol. The lads and ladies who work there all seem very knowledgeable and helpful too and encouraged me even to take photos of their suggested plants for my shade last week, gave me leaflets of what will grow in damp shade and dry shade. I don't think my shade is either damp nor dry (only under the willow its very dry) so maybe I'd have more choices to take my pick off both leaflets. How about that? How generous is that to let me photograph their products??

Dwyllys, hi, I really don't mind sharing my plants if it helps cover up (what is to me an eyesore) the fence, and as the land in there next door is being cleared of any living thing I think maybe its going to need some cheering up, eh? lol. I am planning more honeysuckles, Jasmines and then I'd like to dig up the wild part of my weed riddled part, relocate my huge compost pile, replant the greengage tree I lost with a new young one and the elder I had growing in the corner that also died some years back now, where the fence ends and my rosa rugosas I want to intersperse between the blackthorns and the hawthorns. I want colour all seasons, be it from berries and fruits, or evergreen versions of the climbers I love. I would also love a hawkshead fuchsia that I saw in a blog somewhere in here, how beautiful that plant is, but whether it is shade tolerant on not I still have to find out.

Hi, Stickitoffee, thanks too for your encouraging comments. I used to have rosa rugosa growing in a south facing border outside my old house down in the village, before I moved to where I am now 19 years ago. It grew against my old high brick wall outside on the verge and kept the kids and any 'dodgy' characters away and from scaling the wall to climb over into my secret garden and dump things in my swimming pool that I had at that property. It never kept them from throwing things over it although it was 9 feet high and surrounded my frontage all the way around. I never had a back garden at The Granary, but just a 70 foot by 50 foot front which had the pool in most of it and gravel hardstanding for the car, so I had a very dark north facing inside wall, but there was a grape vine that grew all over the wall and had bunches of green grapes hanging over it, which you couldn't reach due to the rugosa outside lol. However, the beautiful flowers and the wonderful hips I got off the rugosa were gorgeous and I cut it down after the frosts. I cut it back every year to just above ground level, which never stopped it coming back year after year with renewed vigour! It was a b****rd to cut down though and I got cut to ribbons most times, but it was truly a wonderful 6 foot (2m) display every year. I never knew what it was when I lived there as I'd inherited it along with the old house as with the swimming pool (very expensive to clean, heat and run if anyone it wondering! and I'd never opt for another one even if I could afford it). I only recently found out this rugged, wickedly prickled plant's name (I thought it was dog rose) by an article in a magazine I picked up by chance last month; there it was on the front cover nicely displayed in a glass vase, so i was supposed to have found this to help ease my frustration over the blasted fence. I am thrilled to have found all these native plants at my local GC; just up the road to me and although I started weeding and digging over the border last night by my kitchen door to plant in a new honeysuckle, the rugosa are going to go in much further along the garden as are the hawthorn and blackthorn and I shall have to dig up the grass and moss to be able to put them in along the run of the fence. I will take photos of course to let you all see how I am getting on, but today is a total wash out as its absolutely tipping it down here in Essex and the rain is pooling like rivers on the road outside. Not a good sign and I am keen, but not THAT keen yet! lol Love Michelle xx

4 Nov, 2012


Glad to hear you are getting on with things your side of the eyesore Dixie - you are certainly 'sounding' more positive since your first posting. I'm pleased for you.
Whilst I don't mind doing a wee bit in the rain - it's the absolute teaming rain that always sends me indoors!!
Looking foward to seeing your pics :)

5 Nov, 2012


Hi Dixie, glad to hear you live in Essex. Just north of you near Ipswich is the Beth Chatto garden.
When I went there years ago, the covered sales area had all the plants set out in conditions for different types of garden. Shade area, strong sun area,
part shade area, alpines, rockery etc.
People had gone there because whatever type of garden they have, they could find a selection of the right type of plants, just waiting to be bought.
If you have a dry day, you would enjoy going up there.
Better than leaflets and catalogues to worry over.
Its all done for you at Beth Chatto Garden.
nb. it used to be closed on Sundays, best check before travelling. There is a website for it.

6 Nov, 2012

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