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Old 01-04-2017, 09:53 PM
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Question Help for a newbie

I am Paul, from St Helens. As the title suggests, I am somewhat of a noob when it comes to gardening, in particular finding the right plant/shrub or tree has me tossing and turning at nights with an over active mind. I don't know nearly enough to make a confident decision moving forward with my little green fingers, hence why I have joined this forum hoping to pick the brains of people who know a whole lot more than me. Hopefully you wont mind sharing a little experience and steer me in the right direction.


I re landscaped my garden a few years ago, creating a tiered planting area.


The tiered planting area is a pretty hefty build as I don't do building by half, generally overdoing it but at least I know it will last. The upper tier is held back by concrete block with iron re bar faced of with another layer of red brick. The lower tiers are build out of red brick (double with a cavity) that act as planters. The downside to the structure is that water retention is quite high. I have thought about drilling drainage holes but that will ultimately damage and clog the grassed area below. The soil is usually damp, but not completely wet as I did put a layer of lime stone at the bottom of the planters to help with drainage, just probably not enough but its a bit late now.


On the right side (behind my shed) I have laurels to provide privacy, interest and the benefit of low nesting birds. The laurels have been in for about 3 years, bought from a nursery that was looking to get rid of some stragglers they had in the back of their compound. They were certainly destined for the fire heap, however 3 years on they are about 5-6ft tall and very dense. They cover an area of about 9ft x 4ft. In front of them in the lower tier I have a flamingo willow, also planted around the same time and has had to be cut back a couple of times.


Now, off to the left side, On the top tier I have a snow queen multi stem birch (that I adore) 3 years old and she is growing on beautifully. She was a 5ft twig when planted, now over 12ft and is just about displaying her lovely white bark across all 3 main stems.


To the left of the birch (about 3m away) I planted 4 rhodies hoping that by now they would be the height of the fence, nice and dense with lots of flowers.... not even close. Instead I've got a 2ft spindly sad looking mess.


On the mid tier adjacent to the the willow, I have a canarian palm which although alive, barely. The soil is just too wet for it so it's going to be replaced with lavender I think. Plus I love the wildlife coming into the garden, lavender will certainly bring the bees in.


So, as it stands and several years on, I have acidic soil, ph of 5.5 to 6.5 depending on where and how deep I probe. Its only a cheep probe that does misture and ph, probably not accurate but so long as I have a general idea I know which direction to go in. On the moisture scale 1-10, I get moisture readings of around 7-8 (we have had a bit of rain over the past few days).


My garden is SSW facing so my planting area is against the north side of the fence. The area is in shade until about 1-2pm then has full sun until about 8-9pm in the summer. At the moment it is around 3pm but as the sun gets higher it does get better.


What I would like some help with is deciding on a shrub that can go in place of the rhodies that will thrive in the conditions mentioned. I don't want it to over power the birch but do want to fill the corner up as the view of the fence is so boring. Ideally a dense evergreen flowering shrub, growing to around 8-10ft if taller then able to take a cut back. I realize that I have quite a specific requirement and may not be able to gain the ideal shrub, but I would like to get as close as possible if at all possible. Something has to give, I know, but I just don't know what.

Any advice or comments would be most appreciated.

Pics can be seen on the link below.

Thanks for reading,

Paul

https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/?

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Old 02-04-2017, 12:22 AM posted to uk.rec.gardening
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Default Help for a newbie

On 1 Apr 2017 21:53, fishtycuffs wrote:

I am Paul, from St Helens. As the title suggests, I am somewhat of a
noob when it comes to gardening, in particular finding the right
plant/shrub or tree has me tossing and turning at nights with an over
active mind. I don't know nearly enough to make a confident decision
moving forward with my little green fingers, hence why I have joined
this forum hoping to pick the brains of people who know a whole lot more
than me. Hopefully you wont mind sharing a little experience and steer
me in the right direction.


I re landscaped my garden a few years ago, creating a tiered planting
area.


The tiered planting area is a pretty hefty build as I don't do building
by half, generally overdoing it but at least I know it will last. The
upper tier is held back by concrete block with iron re bar faced of with
another layer of red brick. The lower tiers are build out of red brick
(double with a cavity) that act as planters. The downside to the
structure is that water retention is quite high. I have thought about
drilling drainage holes but that will ultimately damage and clog the
grassed area below. The soil is usually damp, but not completely wet as
I did put a layer of lime stone at the bottom of the planters to help
with drainage, just probably not enough but its a bit late now.


On the right side (behind my shed) I have laurels to provide privacy,
interest and the benefit of low nesting birds. The laurels have been in
for about 3 years, bought from a nursery that was looking to get rid of
some stragglers they had in the back of their compound. They were
certainly destined for the fire heap, however 3 years on they are about
5-6ft tall and very dense. They cover an area of about 9ft x 4ft. In
front of them in the lower tier I have a flamingo willow, also planted
around the same time and has had to be cut back a couple of times.


Now, off to the left side, On the top tier I have a snow queen multi
stem birch (that I adore) 3 years old and she is growing on beautifully.
She was a 5ft twig when planted, now over 12ft and is just about
displaying her lovely white bark across all 3 main stems.


To the left of the birch (about 3m away) I planted 4 rhodies hoping that
by now they would be the height of the fence, nice and dense with lots
of flowers.... not even close. Instead I've got a 2ft spindly sad
looking mess.


On the mid tier adjacent to the the willow, I have a canarian palm which
although alive, barely. The soil is just too wet for it so it's going to
be replaced with lavender I think. Plus I love the wildlife coming into
the garden, lavender will certainly bring the bees in.


So, as it stands and several years on, I have acidic soil, ph of 5.5 to
6.5 depending on where and how deep I probe. Its only a cheep probe that
does misture and ph, probably not accurate but so long as I have a
general idea I know which direction to go in. On the moisture scale
1-10, I get moisture readings of around 7-8 (we have had a bit of rain
over the past few days).


My garden is SSW facing so my planting area is against the north side of
the fence. The area is in shade until about 1-2pm then has full sun
until about 8-9pm in the summer. At the moment it is around 3pm but as
the sun gets higher it does get better.


What I would like some help with is deciding on a shrub that can go in
place of the rhodies that will thrive in the conditions mentioned. I
don't want it to over power the birch but do want to fill the corner up
as the view of the fence is so boring. Ideally a dense evergreen
flowering shrub, growing to around 8-10ft if taller then able to take a
cut back. I realize that I have quite a specific requirement and may not
be able to gain the ideal shrub, but I would like to get as close as
possible if at all possible. Something has to give, I know, but I just
don't know what.

Any advice or comments would be most appreciated.

Pics can be seen on the link below.

Thanks for reading,

Paul

http://tinyurl.com/k35bz7f




--
fishtycuffs


Well my first comments are...limestone and Rhodos don't go together.
Lavender and wet soil do not mix either, they need full sun and a
dryish soil.
Big problem in your garden is lack of sun, so you need to think about
shade loving plants, search the net for those. It will and does
restrict what you can grow as does the pH (if it's right).

Damp soil and shade suggests ferns, lilly of the valley, Hostas,......


--
Regards
Bob Hobden
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Old 02-04-2017, 11:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Hobden[_6_] View Post
On 1 Apr 2017 21:53, fishtycuffs wrote:




Well my first comments are...limestone and Rhodos don't go together.
Lavender and wet soil do not mix either, they need full sun and a
dryish soil.
Big problem in your garden is lack of sun, so you need to think about
shade loving plants, search the net for those. It will and does
restrict what you can grow as does the pH (if it's right).

Damp soil and shade suggests ferns, lilly of the valley, Hostas,......


--
Regards
Bob Hobden
Thank you for your reply Bob. I realize my limitations with regard to the shade, hence why I am hoping someone will be able to suggest something that I have missed whilst indeed searching the web. A weeping Larch is something I have been considering. I'm just looking for suggestions to give me more options and something to research before turfing out the rhodies.

The plants are not in shade all day, if you look at the photo's the sun hits the rhodies around 2pm (earlier in the height of summer) and they have sun for the rest of the day so I can only assume it does open up some options a somewhat limited area.

When you say about the pH "if its right" are the cheap probes really that inaccurate?
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Old 02-04-2017, 11:32 AM
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I forgot to mention, I have also googled the plants you have kindly suggested, however I'm looking for something that will grow the height of the fence. If said shrub ever gets there, it will enjoy full sun all day long (at least at the top of it).


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