Plants for Places - 1
Any Questions?

Q. The area where I wish to place a trellis climber will be in the shade of my garage and not therefore in a sunny spot. Could you please recommend a suitable foliage and/or flowering climber that I can plant in a container.

A. I'm not a great fan of climbers in containers as they can grow pretty big and then they either don't do well or you have an awful lot of watering and feeding to do.

Clematis are a good bet for such a position, they prefer some sunshine if possible, but you don't have the problem of the flower colour fading if they are in some shade, Jackmanii hybrids should do well.

Ivies of low vigour will also be good, make sure they don't get a hold of a wall to grow up if you don't want them to. Avoid the variegated or yellow leaved varieties as they will go darker and revert to green in the shade. "Duckfoot", "Tres Coupe" or "Parsley crested" would be suitable (the latter in a larger container).

Q.  I want to grow a fairly fast growing ivy (or other suggestion) up the west facing wall of my house. The wall gets full on sun from 2pm to sundown. I would preferably like something evergreen or at least for 3 seasons good coverage. Any suggestions?

A.  I think ivy is your best bet here. There are many varieties available. As a rule of thumb, they grow faster the more green they have on the leaf, the variegated or yellowish ones being less vigorous. They also colour-up better in full sunshine, though it sounds as though you have enough for a good colour to develop if you go for a variegated variety.

Green varieties "Saggitifolia", Variegated "Sulphur heart" aka "Paddy's Pride", "Goldheart" - also has nice red-coloured young stems.

Q.  I am looking for a medium shrub / small tree that is : between 2 and 4 metres high, an "open" habit (like a Silver Birch for example) and elegant, with leaves which allow the sunlight to show through, it also needs to be fully hardy.

It is intended for a mostly sunny spot which is fairly well sheltered. I had considered an Acer but think that the intensity of sunlight might damage the leaves. Have you any suggestions, please?

A.  You're right about Acers, they need some shade so as not to be scorched, also, they're quite dense, while individual leaves can be quite filigree, the overall effect can be quite dense coverage.

The obvious answer to my mind is a bamboo which fulfils all of your characteristics admirably. They'll stand the sun and will give an open effect, particularly as the leaves move in the breeze, the shelter is ideal and will stop them from getting wind scorched and by a careful choice of variety, you will get the right height. The only aspect that might not fit with your requirements is that they form a clump rather than having a single trunk.

Others - Dogwood, such as Cornus alba "elegantissima", variegated leaves. Spirea arguta "The bride" arching and so doesn't appear so dense. Most shrubs however will be pretty dense.

Q. I want to find a tall thin plant to put in a narrow flowerbed to act as a screen so that I'm not overlooked by a neighbour's window. It mustn't be too tall or too bushy as I don't want to block their light - something about 6-7' tall which grows up rather than bushing out would be ideal. It mustn't be too high maintenance as I'm disabled & can't do much gardening (occasional pruning no problem) & mustn't be high pollen / scented as I have hay fever! I can't think of anything - do you have any suggestions?

I should also perhaps have said that the flowerbed is mostly in shade, though it gets a bit of early morning & late afternoon sun, that the soil is rich clay, slightly alkaline, & that to fit in with the colour scheme in that part of the garden any flowers should ideally be white/yellow/blue/purple (ie not red/orange/pink).


1/ Trellis held up by two 3" square posts with a climber growing up it - instant and fits your very precise requirements. Space taken by trellis irrelevant as it doesn't root! Grow an ivy up it, not variegated as there's little sun, could also grow Clematis, but deciduous, many will grow and flower in partial shade - in fact prefer it.

2/ 2 x obelisks, metal or wood, easy to make if you're "handy" or know someone who is. Grow ivy or Clematis as before.

3/ Privet - sounds boring, but takes to trimming very well and grows quickly, you could topiary (topiarize?) it into a more interesting shape. Golden privet could be used, not so fast growing, won't be really golden due to little sun.

4/ Lonicera nitida - same idea as privet, smaller leaves.

5/ Conifers, Juniperus "skyrocket" or Italian Cypress.

Q.  We are looking for column-like conifers to grow in pots on either side of our front door. The house is north/northwest-facing and therefore doesn't have a lot of sun. Any suggestions would be most welcome.

A.  The two main column shaped conifers that are grown are Juniperus scopulurum "skyrocket" and Cupressus sempervivens stricta - the Italian cypress. Both of these need full sun to do well.

There aren't really any naturally narrow upright conifers for your situation and conifers generally prefer a sunny position. Thujas tolerate shade and you could try a couple of Thuja plicata - Western Red Cedar, that you could trim to shape as they're often used for hedging. Alternatively Box or Yew which could be trimmed to shape though are slow growing, if bought in a container they are instantly larger than plants in the soil. How about a pyramid support covered with a delicate variety of ivy?

Q.  What bedding plants will grow next to a privet hedge in a dry soil?

A.  Realistically - none. Privet is notorious as a greedy shrub for both water and nutrients, it's the pay off for it being so hardy and reliable. You could try Geraniums as they tolerate dry conditions pretty well as do Mesembryanthemums and Portulaca, but the further away from the hedge you can get, the happier they'll be and like most plants that tolerate dry conditions, these are sun-lovers Depending on position of the hedge, you could try some taller plants a little distance (2-3ft) away so the gap is not noticeable, say Nicotiana.

Q.  I am in the process of trying to re-home a large Rhododendron bush for my Father, it was housed in a wooden barrel that over the years has rotted. I need to find a Ceramic/Pot Pot if you get what I mean to house a root ball of about 22" x 22" with a depth of 10", I would prefer about an extra 2-3" added to the measurements of a new pot to allow for re-planting. The last and most important thing is the cost!, everywhere I look all the large ones are about £60.00 and with fancy glazes and patterns, these are not required just a plain pot.

A.  Sorry I can't find anything on the web that suits your purposes. I have seen large simple pots at garden centres for less than £60 - forget how much though, but they've been part of special purchases.

I wouldn't feel too happy though about getting a cheap terra-cotta pot that large though, even cheap would be around £30 or more and the risk of breakage would be too high for me to consider. Terra-cotta or glazed ceramic (often concrete) needs to be thick and heavy - read expensive - in order to last.

There are cheap resin pots that large available. though to my eye they still look like resin. If you're handy with a hammer you could knock up a square one using decking boards cheaply, line with plastic and raise off the ground for a longer life - I also paint inside mine with bituminous paint to further prevent water leaking in - wash it out well when the paint is dry before using.

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