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I am creating a flower bed by constructing a retaining wall parallel to an existing brick wall using railway sleepers. The sleepers will be 25cm (10") and also be used a place to sit. Ideally I don't want the flower bed to be more than 30cm (1ft) wide - it will be 3m (10ft) long and 50cm (1' 6") deep. I would like to create a contemporary look to include something with some height - possibly planting bamboo(with clump forming roots), ferns, grasses and lavender for example. The wall is 2m (6' 6") high and the bed will not be exposed to direct sunlight. Can you please recommend what to plant and confirm whether a width of 30cm is sufficient?



Ferns are a 'Yes' as they grow happily in the shade - as long as the bed isn't too dry. I'm afraid that Lavender is a 'No' as it likes sunshine - it wouldn't thrive or flower in shade. There are some grasses which would be OK - Carex morrowii being one example - but be careful in your choice as many species again will not grow in shade.

Bamboos - again a no - not in that space or depth. There are some invasive ones, to be avoided at all costs, too, like the Phyllostachys group, even though they would grow in shade and give the height you want.

Hostas would be fine there, as would Epimediums and Pulmonaria for early spring flowers.

I am always recommending the Euonymus fortunei group of shrubs - 'Silver Queen' will climb up your wall if you want it too! Otherwise, don't shy away from variegated Ivies (as long as it isn't a house wall). Another climber that is great for autumn colour is Parthenocissus henryana.

I hope there's something in the list that will help you.

11 Dec, 2008


Oriental hellebores would be good for Spring. Being in a raised bed you can see the detail inside the flowers well. Plant something to trail over the edge in places such as Persicaria affine which is compact.

11 Dec, 2008


Hello, would defo agree with all of the above, and have some others to add, i have quite a few, shady semi shade spots in my garden, and my beds are not all big, i would ideally recomend woodland plants as they don't need a huge amount of growing space, as used to having to deal with tree roots and don't need to much sun. Cyclamen would be a good one, or dog toothe violet- Erythronium, Bergenia, Ajua reptans, or some varieties of Saxifraga would be good in this location, 2 i would recomend would be S. umbrosa (London's pride) - not hugely contempory i know, but i have a really nice variety that is varigated, so really interesting leaf colour even during the winter months, and much better behaved than some of the all green varieties, and S.fortunei, this is a lovely plant, autumn flowering, not evergreen but very attractive copper coloured leaves through out most of the year, if you want something a bit different, how about Tricyritis (toad lily) - but bare in mind this does need acid soil. Or Bletilla striata (Chinese Grond Orchid)- will tollerate semi/dappled shade, but won't perform well in full shade.

11 Dec, 2008


As long as they are kept reasonably moist, fuchsias will grow there too and give a long season of colour in summer and autumn

11 Dec, 2008


ooh something esle i just thought of you could also try a dwarf Acer, if you want a bit of back bone, they don't need a huge amount of space, and are often grown in pots, it sounds as if it might be quite a sheltered area, if so may get away with it, - acer needs protection from wind.

11 Dec, 2008


I will second Majeekahead and Spitzhenry. Not to the dwf. maple. Needs more sun. Rodgersia and a purple foliaged plant that I cannot think the name of. Darn.

Ferns. So many great ones. Autumn ferns, Painted fern and so many more. A dwf. golden bamboo, if it is planted in a pot and removed yearly and root pruned. Hakenochlea for a gold grass.

Hellebore niger instead of H. oreientalis. Native plants always .. you have great native orchids. Use them.

12 Dec, 2008


Think it depends on the variety Skyline, some don't like too much sun, i have two vareities that i have in semi/dappled shade, that i moved quite recently as they did'nt seem to like too much sun, - maybe not full shade, depends on how shady the area is, one of mine is in full shade this time of year when dormant, but gets a bit of sun for a couple of hours a day in the spring summer, the important thing to remember is they don't like morning sun, particually in the spring as, as morning dew can cause leaf scorching, but if you get the conditions right they are quite easy to grow and very rewarding, might need to ponder on that one Howard, can't remeber the vareities off the top of my head, but if Howard likes this idea i can come back to you on the varieties. - i have quite a few you see lol love um, such lovely leaf colouring. and yes i defo agree on the orchids,

12 Dec, 2008


Sorry I'm coming late to this - work took over "interest" reading!!
I'd definitely create a slightly damp area and plant lily-of-the-valley. Whilst I know the conventional wisdom is that they need some sunshine mine are very happy in a small area of the garden that get's none at all.

20 Dec, 2008

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