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Planting advice

We are looking for some advice regarding planting.

We maintain some residential communal gardens and there are three of these circular flower beds. Normally, they are planted with some seasonal bedding plants but this year we would like to do something different. Can anyone recommend some perennial shrubs, or something that would still give a bit of colour in winter? When we took over the grounds last year, the previous gardeners had put the three flower beds in with a small tree inside. The owner would still like to keep the small trees.

Thanks in advance for any help

Susan

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Replies

  • perhaps a mixture of cornus and dahlias? cornus look stunning midwinter. Just the first thing that came to mind :-)

  • Skimmia, Hamamelis, Mahonia, Cornus alba 'Sibirica', Viburnum tinus (always seems to be in flower)

     

  • Coppiced dogwoods always look good over winter (even the dark purple kesselringii), evergreen ground cover like Epimedium, Vinca minor, Euonymus fortunei, maybe blocks of ornamental grass, the right ones are good late season, winter colour; some of the Stipas, pennisetums....?

  • Hi Susan.

    I'd consider existing planting before making suggestions on what to go with it.

    It would be useful to know what the tree is? It looks like a hawthorn judging from the flowers? If so, not all hawthorn produce berries in autumn/winter- does this one?

    Melissa

  • PRO

    Thank you Gareth, Chris and Tony for your suggestions- really helpful thank you. Some really lovely choices there. There are a lot of varieties of Cornus on site so looking for something a bit different.

    Melissa- Yes, it is a hawthorn but this one does not produce berries.

  • Hi Susan

    ok, that's a shame so no winter interest. I'd probably recommend then that the lower foliage is pruned away to allow a more tree habit than a spreading shrub at ground level. this would allow you to underplant under the canopy too and give greater impact of planting in the bed.

    I like the sound of you changing away from bedding plants as not really in keeping around the tree. Off the top of my head (and not knowing the size of the area and site, soil conditions etc) cornus would be a good option - a group of purple stemmed ('Kesselringii') are great with the green stemmed ones (e.g. Cornus sericea 'Flaviramea'). You could go for grasses to complement as ground cover such as carex or luzula. Or as mentioned before epimedium would look good too. 

    Keep it simple, greater impact. Another option would be to plant a rambling rose - one with winter hips - to grow through the tree. This really depends on the look and maintenance you're after.

    Food for thought!

    Melissa

     

  • Just another suggestion perhaps some winter cyclamen and spring bulbs, they always make a nice little addition!

  • Good idea- and to give some late summer and autumn interest try some ceratostigma plumbaginoides.Beautiful deep blue flowers on a low spreading plant with foliage turning fiery red in autumn whilst still holding the flowers.Prefers a sunny well drained site.

    Tony Goodridge said:

    Just another suggestion perhaps some winter cyclamen and spring bulbs, they always make a nice little addition!

  • Maybe there is scope for widening the beds a bit... if the trees are staying centre. Cornus with Ophiopogon planiscapus 'Nigrescens' and Galanthus is a nice winter combination too. But if you already have lots of Cornus and looking for something different, maybe some of the domey Hebes that take on colour in winter (eg H. 'Mrs Winder') or smaller ground cover such as H. 'Red Edge' - looks effective with grasses such as Stipa tenuissima or Anemathele lessoniana (evergreen with bronze tones also over winter).  Could add some long flowering Geraniums (eg G. 'Rozanne) to mix for summer/autumn interest - and could include some spring bulbs with this combo too - Alliums would look great..  Or....maybe consider shrubs with winter fragrance (eg Sarcococca confusa) with if its somewhere where people pass by.... 

  • PRO

    Thank you so much for all the replies. Lots of food for thought and I have been looking into all the combinations of plants that everyone has been discussing. The tree is ridulous where it is, I am not sure who put this in- they were here when we took over last year. The other two circular flower beds have maple trees in the middle!

    The photo on the first post was taken when we started the maintenance for the grounds. My husband who maintains them informs me that he has since pruned the lower branches so they are looking more tree like.

    When looking at arranging the plants in the bed i realised that I needed some input into the different types of look that you can acheive. Therefore....(sorry to change subject) but you have all inspired me to learn more about garden design.

    Where can I start? Are there any formal qualifications/training that anyone can recommend?

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