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what will survive?


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Dear all - I would like to pick the brains of any gardeners out


Our garden is more of a field.  The soil is clay with stones and

the only thing that seems to grow well are weeds!  We're south facing and in a

valley so our plants are pretty exposed to the elements.  The garden borders a

field and I'd like to create a very long plant border that gives us some privacy

without blocking the view... and that gives us some interest through the


I'm thinking of making a shrub border that I can expand later to

add flowers, climbers and bulbs, but initially I'm looking for shrubs that grown

to about 1.5m tall... obviously some taller and some shorter is fine.  I've put

together a long list of possibilities but experience of trying to get things to

grow and survive around our pool has taught me that I shouldn't trust everything

I read on the plant advice... so I'm asking others living with similar

surroundings for their advise.

So... what grows well in your garden? 

What have you had great success with and what would you avoid?  I'm a novice

gardener and I'm looking for a fairly low maintenance solution.  I'd love to

hear about your success stories!

many thanks in advance [:)]

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Roses do well in clay - take advice on what types to choose for the height you want.

We have a border as you describe and it's not 100% successful but the best things are the roses and two huge white gaura bushes . Not exactly shrubs as I cut them right back each winter, but they have been in flower since May.

If you google arbustes pour argile you will get a long list.

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Rose - what grows well in your neighbours gardens ?

Our Sundance is going really well here in N Lot though it did have some dead bits after last winter. Hot summers don't seem a prob for it though it can be a bit of a chore applying SPF 30 to each leaf every morning.

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If you like roses, have a look at www.davidaustinroses.co.uk and the variety hyde hall as it may be ideal for you.

I buy all my roses from DA and can well recommend them. If you order a brochure and prefer an english version you will have to order it via the phone as they automatically send out a french version if you give them a french address. They deliver to france but there is postage to pay.

Hope this is of help. Chris
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Gaura and lavender definitely also a bluish flowering plant / shrub with a name like prerushka (someone will correct me here I am sure) they seem to grow in poor soil and flower for a long time. We were told anything with a silvery leaf will survive the sun and the heat.

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[quote user="Iceni"]

Our Sundance is going really well here in N Lot though it did have some dead bits after last winter. Hot summers don't seem a prob for it though it can be a bit of a chore applying SPF 30 to each leaf every morning.


John - I almost thought you were serious :)

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I also have a clay soil and we are relatively exposed. My roses do well - Pierre de Rosard is a beautiful climber, but I have bought all mine in France. I have a tall blue sage that is very happy, Helenium, Shasta daisy, Iris, Hosta, various Poppies, Perenial Sunflowers and Michelmas Daisy are others that thrive and come up each year.
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I cut my UK lavender a couple of days ago, and it's now scenting various rooms beautifully. It sounds as though your conditions would suit it well. Mine get a haircut towards the end of summer each year; all the stalks and into the new wood - easy to do with shears.


I garden mainly on clay with some gravelly parts, although my garden isn't as open as yours; it faces south and has shade at the bottom from tall trees.


Roses should do well, as should choisya ternata (green) although sundance (yellow) will probably do less well. Mine are just coming into flower for the second time.


Hebes are very forgiving plants, as are elaeagnus and euonymus; Emerald Gaiety is a good example of euonymus. It gives extra, as it’s variegated, although if a branch grows just green or just white it needs cutting off right back where it comes from a main branch. Other than that, it just grows happily and is very forgiving – when it gets a little large in any direction you just chop a bit off, with no ill effects or loss of shape. Rosemary should also suit well.


Most of these are evergreens, some with flowers, so you get good variety throughout the year. When you introduce your bulbs, climbers etc you'll have a very good show.


One deciduous shrub I'd suggest is cornus; they are supposed to like full sun and well-drained soil, but I have them in all areas of the garden, including clay, waterlogged in winter, and they give a lovely show. I love Elegantissima particularly, and let them grow fairly tall in places; they move beautifully in wind, and I cut parts back hard each year so there are lovely red stems in spring.

Happy gardening!  [:D]


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Thank you all so far for your ideas!  soooo helpful!  I'm planning to plant the border in Autumn... It's going to be about 40m long so I have a bit of digging to do [blink]  but I hope in a year or two it will be worth the effort!

don't suppose any of you have a solution for a garden that doesn't need weeding [Www]

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You want jam on it!

You could always put membrane down, but rather time-consuming and fiddly to plant through it, and expensive for the size you're talking about - I've done it on the front garden, then cut large cross slits in it and planted through it. That's all then covered with gravel. A lot of people use bark chippings to deter weeds.

With a border with lots of evergreen shrubs you'll find that as they grow they'll cover a lot of the soil, so large amounts of weeding are eliminated eventually. I've a large bed with mainly euonymus, hebes, cotoneaster and cornus that gets a little grass in it, but very few other weeds; I have to be vigilant for ash saplings though - dreadful things hide amongst other foliage, bide their time and wait for me to pop off on a trip, then emerge as 6 foot trees that are difficult to get out!

There's a growing group of people who'll be very fit in the autumn - Sweet and Gemonimo from their long trek and you with all that digging and bending! And remember, bending is good for the waistline!  [:D]

If you'll be digging but not planting straight away, old carpet will keep down a lot of weeds. I've usually got a carpeted patch somewhere in the garden, and as I've not been able to garden for a few months, there's carpet down on an unused vegetable area which got a bit out of hand; in another couple of months the weeds will have been smothered without me lifting a finger!  [:D]


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It's not too difficult to see why Gardengirl is your avatar, GG!  You should post some piccys of your garden as it sounds fabulous.

Rose, I have a border of clay soil (it separates the vines from the grass) and when I planted quite a few years ago I just put in anything I saw and as yet it has all survived.  I have climbing roses, cotoneaster, oleander, mimosa and heaven only knows what else. It's all rather wild and anarchic and like GG, I have trees which pop up uninvited although mine are erable - a real pest.


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what a lovely informative bunch you are!  thank you so much for the replies and for the tips for weeds too!  ... GG dont suppose you now of any easy way to dig the border do you? [;-)]

p.s. Concrete?  please dont give Greyman ideas [:P]

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