What tree or large shrub will compliment my cottage style front garden

Discussion in 'Gardening Discussions' started by Sienna's Blossom, Feb 11, 2020.

  1. Sienna's Blossom

    Sienna's Blossom Super Gardener

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    Hi, we have a 12 foot conifer in our front garden which unfortunately we think is going to have to come out as it probably wants to grow and grow and will just get far too big for the front garden. The rest of the front garden is cottage garden style and so what would compliment this style of planting?

    Things that are growing well under the conifer (slightly in front of) currently are hellebores and Japanese anemones, we also have roses and buddleia nearby.

    Ideally, I'd like wildlife friendly shrubs or a small/dwarf tree that wont outgrow its space.

    It's south facing, and clay soil.

    Any suggestions?
    :thankyou:
     
  2. Macraignil

    Macraignil Gardener

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    Viburnum tinus might be an idea. It's flowering at the moment so is good to brighten things up when other plants are not at their best and for pollinators. Here is a clip of a young one in my own garden. Osmanthus, spiraea, purple leaf elderflower, abelia, ceanothus and camellia might also be ideas and I noticed a winter-flowering honeysuckle (lonicera fragrantissima) on my walk to work recently that is looking great at the moment if you could find one.
     
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    • KFF

      KFF Total Gardener

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      Hu @Sienna's Blossom , if you want a gorgeously scented, properly old-fashioned cottage type shrub how about a Lilac. If you look out for a Canaduan bred one you get a lovely scented shrub that grows to around two and a half/three feet and flowers in Spring and Autumn.
       
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      • KFF

        KFF Total Gardener

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        Just found a photo of ours, this one is around four years old.

        20180520_182930.jpg
         
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        • Graham B

          Graham B Gardener

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          Instead of the larger lilac, you could get a lilac microphylla. It's a smaller plant (max 4ft high, 3ft wide) with smaller leaves and lots of small pink flowers, in May like a regular lilac. Unlike a regular lilac though, this one keeps flowering sporadically all the way through to autumn.

          Fuchsias would be a good call too. Plenty of varieties of various sizes. Just make sure the one you pick is fully hardy, of course.

          For something a bit bigger, philadelphus (mock orange) is lovely too. They all have white flowers with varying amounts of pink towards the middle. Lots of variation in bush size and flower size/shape, so you'd need to choose one which works for you.
           
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          • Mike Allen

            Mike Allen Total Gardener

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            KFF. That really looks good. Have you got the botanical name for it please.


            In general I find it sometimes difficult to advise/suggest what plant where? Yes of course members always give of their best with help and advice. However often what we may be doing is simply in a sense, kind of, taking over someone else' garden and planting something I/we like.

            With respect. It would be useful to know perhaps the size of the garden, and the surrounding settings. I love conifers, as to me they offer all year round attraction. Mindful consideration is called for when planting. Many conifers really go down and down with their roots. If planted too close to buildings, so often subsidence takes place, due to the roots seeking out water, this causes the soil to dry out and shrink, then the foundations begin to move.

            Depending much upon the specs I have mentioned. If the area is reasonably large, then if perhaps a tre is liked, then one of the Magnolias, there are some very attractive ones, either evergreen or deciduous. These can be used as specimen plants/subjects with either a simple lawn beneath or under planting of perennials and bulbs. As I say, much depends on personal preference etc. Then do we choose a shrub? So many to choose from. Not wishing to offend our friend Macraignil, but I consider Vibernum tinus as shrub better suited to hedging. Forgive me but. I find it stinks, and always looks dirty. Just me.
             
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            • luciusmaximus

              luciusmaximus Total Gardener

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              I have several Ribes in my front garden. Loved by pollinators and they smell absolutely divine in Spring with pink and white black currant fragrances. The leaves also have a slight black currant fragrance too. Very easy to care for.

              I've also got Hydrangeas, Weigela, Pieris and Lilacs ( not sure which Lilac as bought as 99p plants from a pound shop ). They are both very slow growing and still little more than twigs after several years. Previous owner also planted Lilacs and they are around 8ft tall ( but don't know how long they took to reach that height ).
               
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                Last edited: Feb 12, 2020
              • NigelJ

                NigelJ Total Gardener

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                Lilac microphylla is a good small shrub, scented flowers, mine flowers in several flushes a year. Does not sucker. Deutzia is another to consider. Viburnum chingii is a nice small shrub, but not easily found. Clusters of small pink scented flowers in spring that last well.
                 
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                • Sienna's Blossom

                  Sienna's Blossom Super Gardener

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                  Thank you all for these ideas, you've given me some great ideas here.
                  @Mike Allen I'll get out with a tape measure later, subsidence was one of the things we were worried about with the conifer as our clay soil really does crack and dry out in the summer although more so the back garden than the front.

                  The conifer was here already when we moved in, and whilst it does block out the house opposite, I fear it may grow as tall or taller than our house, so think we need something else that isn't going to outgrow the space, and something that would benefit wildlife to ease my guilty conscience of removing the tree.
                   
                • shiney

                  shiney President, Grumpy Old Men's Club Staff Member

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                  @Mike Allen botanical names included :blue thumb: :heehee:

                  @Sienna's Blossom If you want something that looks a bit more exotic and flowers Winter/Spring time you could plant a

                  Sophora microphylla 'Sun King' Sophora [Sun King] = 'Hilsop' (PBR) | kowhai [Sun King]/RHS Gardening

                  It's an evergreen and grows easily in our clay soil (with lots of garden compost dug in). It has just started to flower now but doesn't get into full flower until March and carries through to April. It's a fairly slow grower but ours tends to grow more than most as we talk to it nicely. :)
                  Don't be put off by the height of ours as it's unusual - and you can keep it pruned. I can't remember how long ago we planted it but @strongylodon may be able to give you a better idea of what height it gets to after x years. :blue thumb:

                  P1330076.JPG

                  P1330078.JPG

                  Another exotic and slower growing tree (could even be considered a shrub as it's a slow grower)
                  is Prunus incisa 'Kojo-no-mai' Prunus incisa 'Kojo-no-mai' | cherry 'Kojo-no-mai'/RHS Gardening

                  This is deciduous but a wonderful plant to have in your front garden, as is the Sophora. It certainly brightens up the front garden at the time you don't get too much colour. It flowers March and April.

                  P1410666.JPG

                  You can see the zig zag look to the branches
                  P1410596.JPG
                   
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                  • Sienna's Blossom

                    Sienna's Blossom Super Gardener

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                    Beautiful pics @shiney, decisions, decisions now! So much choice.
                    But feeling really excited to get started on some garden transforming :spinning:
                     
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                    • Macraignil

                      Macraignil Gardener

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                      No offence taken. I have seen Viburnum tinus used in a hedge but that is where I have seen it not looking its best. I don't think it likes being clipped back regularly as a formal hedge and my grandmother had a hedge of it that did not look great. I actually posted a video of it showing some aphids being farmed by some ants on one of the hedge shoots here. It is from the Mediterranean so does not deal well with a site exposed to the north and east but I have seen some very nice single shrubs of it when in a sheltered south facing position. Tried to smell a few of the small shrubs I have flowering currently just a while back and can only get a very slight impression of what it smells like but this is probably down to my sense of smell not being very good or that I'm near the top of a hill when the wind is blowing fairly strongly. I have never really noticed it smelling bad but think I remember the smell being more noticeable when it was growing as a hedge which I suppose makes sense since there were more plants and they were bigger.

                      That prunus incisa kojo-no-mai looks very nice shiney and I hope the one I planted last year produces a similar display.
                       
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                        Last edited: Feb 17, 2020
                      • Sian in Belgium

                        Sian in Belgium Total Gardener

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                        @Sienna's Blossom you have some lovely suggestions there!

                        Now, I don’t know what your soil type is, or how sheltered the planting site is, but a couple more ideas...
                        A Japanese maple. They come in so many shapes and sizes, and their roots are relatively well behaved. If your soil is neutral or acidic, I’m sure you will find one that you like, and they can give you colour from spring to autumn - even their winter shape can be interesting (many of the red forms have slightly coloured stems.
                        Not hugely loved by the birds, but the canopy can often have a bird or two hopping around.
                        A Kilmarnock willow. I know - they can look a little dated. But you know the height you are going to get. You buy a tree with the height of trunk that you want! They grow down, not up, so they only get a couple of inches taller over 10 years! You can prune it to be a dense, or thin branched as you want. They take a little maintenance (I’ve admitted in another thread that mine definitely needs some serious work this spring!), but it’s not onerous - no ladders required! A huge plus is the birds seem to love it! I think a lot of insects find shelter in the large winter buds, so our Kilmarnock is constantly twitching with tits - blue, great, coal, willow, marsh and long-tailed. Under the canopy, our resident robin, wren and blackbirds are often to be seen turning over leaf debris. The canopy can be quite dense, so I’d only under plant early spring bulbs, or plants that die back by late spring....
                         
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                        • Sienna's Blossom

                          Sienna's Blossom Super Gardener

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                          The Kilmarnock sounds wonderful @Sian in Belgium , I love the thought of attracting and watching all of those birds, you've got me thinking for sure.
                           
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                          • Sienna's Blossom

                            Sienna's Blossom Super Gardener

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                            @Sian in Belgium I bought a Kilmarnock today :)

                            Don't quite know where it's going yet as we have some planning to do, but couldn't resist it, so thanks for the recommendation as I don't think I would've thought of it without that.

                            Also bought a choisya sun dance, four hebes and a hellebore all from the reduced section in B&Q. So, off to a good start I think!
                             
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