Author Topic: Recommendations for North-facing wildlife planting please  (Read 866 times)

gray1720

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Recommendations for North-facing wildlife planting please
« on: December 15, 2019, 13:59:44 »
Preamble time - shift to the second paragraph if this gets boring, that's where the meat and drink is: I'm in the process (ie if I don't slip a disc it'll be done by dark) of removing my back hedge. Fundamentally it was big, fugly, and blocked the light to next door's kitchen window, and I didn't like it anyway. However, it provided a lot of cover for the neighbourhood sparrows and other birds, and I feel quite guilty about losing that. It's being replaced with a 6ft panel fence (which should hardly obstruct the window) and its removal has left me with a bed that will be 4-5 feet deep at the bottom of the garden that I can play with. Not all will be garden as the shedette (small plastic pot store) will go in one corner, with a space behind full of logs for invertebrates and the like, and hopefully hedgehogs if any survive the roads, and there will be a bit of pottering area hidden behind the greenhouse as well.

However I'd like to plant the rest with stuff that will look good while providing cover for the birds. The one solid plan is a Maiden's Blush rose in the middle because it is pretty, smells wonderful, and is almost obscene in French. So... what can you recommend will provide good wildlife cover, including winter (this will mean at least one evergreen shrub/bush), and thrive facing North? We are suburban and the bed will be right under next door's wall, so relatively sheltered from the worst of frosts, and on a mid-to heavy clay-loam soil. I'm not too worried about fertility where the Leylandii have been as I have access to well-rotted horse manure, plus a compost dalek that produces at a terrifying rate, so I can dig in plenty of sh1t.

See photo with the hedge in the background for details of the situation - next door is pretty much due South of us.

Many thanks,

Adrian

(probably should have thought of this first... but the allotment is too wet to dig, so I started on the hedge while I was thinking of it!)
« Last Edit: December 15, 2019, 14:03:59 by gray1720 »
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Recommendations for North-facing wildlife planting please
« on: December 15, 2019, 13:59:44 »

small

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Re: Recommendations for North-facing wildlife planting please
« Reply #1 on: December 15, 2019, 15:37:04 »
We have a cotoneaster in a nasty corner, it needs watching for too much spread sideways. but it is alive with bees for months on end, and because it hugs the ground it shelters wrens and dunnocks, then the blackbirds love the berries as well, it's a real multi-purpose plant.

Obelixx

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Re: Recommendations for North-facing wildlife planting please
« Reply #2 on: December 15, 2019, 16:11:33 »
Pyracatha would be good for training over the fence.  It will have blossom and nectar before your rose and berries afterwards so provides food and shelter for many over a long period.   https://www.rhs.org.uk/Plants/79022/Pyracantha-Saphyr-Rouge-Cadrou-%2528PBR%2529/Details and the orange version Cadange are both resistant to fireblight.

Buddleias provide nectar for a wide range of insects and now come in many colours.  An evergreen mahonia would provide structure and early flowers then berries later on as would berberis darwinii.   I would plant hellebores, bergenias and snowdrops for early nectar seekers and some of the creamier shades of daff for a bit later on as their colour will show better than yellow that early in a northerly aspect.  Foxgloves and aquilegias for later still.  Hydrangea paniculata is good for pollinators and there are several hardy geraniums which will provide ground cover as well as leaf forms, height and flower colours to suit your scheme.

You could use variegated ivy for ground or fence cover and, when mature, it will provide nectar and fruits for pollinators and birds as well as shelter.

Obxx - Vendée France

gray1720

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Re: Recommendations for North-facing wildlife planting please
« Reply #3 on: December 15, 2019, 16:55:28 »
Obelixx, C'est magnifique! Small's suggestion is near-perfect too (it would only have been better if I'd thought of it myself first...) as we have a cotoneaster hedge at the front, shaded by our house, and lots of seedlings that I normally have to get rid of, so the soil is right.

Obelixx - I'm drooling at the thought already. There's so much in that list that I already love. We've already got foxgloves and aquilegias (at least in part because they need to really be in the wrong place for me to remove them) and after last year when I left the local cranesbills in to brighten the place up I think we may be hacking our way through impenetrable forests of bubblegum-pink geraniums!

I'd never heard of that particular hydrangea, but it looks rather lovely, and we were admiring other people's pyracantha only this morning. I even have a Mahonia (probably x media "Charity" as it is so strongly scented it's like walking into a wall), though as it's a year-old single leaf cutting it's a bit tiddly at the moment - it's about a foot across and about 4 inches high!

Presumably the variegated ivy will be less vvigorous than its green cousin and easier to keep in check?

Thank you both, I may not have space for any more ideas, but keep them coming!

Adrian
My garden is smaller than your Rome, but my pilum is harder than your sternum!

gray1720

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Re: Recommendations for North-facing wildlife planting please
« Reply #4 on: December 15, 2019, 18:35:36 »
You may be amused to hear that I posted on our neighbourhood Nextdoor forum as well (if it grows locally, must suit the soil), and someone has somewhat ardently (three replies!) suggested Vinca minor. I may choose tactfully not to mention that next door have finally got rid of the periwinkle that spread from the previous owner after four years of spraying with hideous concoctions... Nice in its place, but that place is at least two doors down!
(I've a nasty feeling the bulbs I unearthed are muscari... equally bad!)

Adrian
My garden is smaller than your Rome, but my pilum is harder than your sternum!

Obelixx

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Re: Recommendations for North-facing wildlife planting please
« Reply #5 on: December 15, 2019, 23:01:16 »
That bubblegum pink geranium can be a pain but there are many more - white, blue, purple - that will be really good.   Variegated ivy is slower and there are creamy and gold varsions with different sizes of leaf so have a good look round before you choose one.

You can find all sorts of info about plants on the RHS site - colours, size, soil preferences etc and whether or not they are good for pollinators.   Things with berries will attract birds and do, please, let the birds deal with any aphids.  Tits and sparrows will feed them to their nestlings.
Obxx - Vendée France

gray1720

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Re: Recommendations for North-facing wildlife planting please
« Reply #6 on: December 16, 2019, 23:03:43 »
do, please, let the birds deal with any aphids.  Tits and sparrows will feed them to their nestlings.

More than likely anyway - I try to keep the hedge bindweed from getting too rampant with Stuff and one or two of the houseplants get a little spray when they get bugs but beyond that, I really don't use any chemicals that aren't either in Tomorite or are dihydrogen monoxide. I've always tried to encourage tits into my garden. And small colourful songbirds too.

Adrian
« Last Edit: December 16, 2019, 23:08:44 by gray1720 »
My garden is smaller than your Rome, but my pilum is harder than your sternum!

lavenderlux

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Re: Recommendations for North-facing wildlife planting please
« Reply #7 on: December 17, 2019, 12:17:47 »
For wild flowers, plant some 'Ox-eye Daisies' and Red and White Campions, they are excellent for pollinators, they are perennials and will self seed;  for attractive flowers and then seed heads grow some Teasels, the flowers are attractive to pollinators and the seed heads will attract Goldfinches over the winter. 

gray1720

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Re: Recommendations for North-facing wildlife planting please
« Reply #8 on: January 05, 2020, 22:23:41 »
Well, I am attempting to make a start. A couple of annoyances lie in the way at the mo. The other next door neighbours have yet to shift the last bit of leylandii (it's over their side of the fence, despite the root being on my side, and it's behind their greenhouse - if  I drop a tree on mine, que sera sera, if I drop one on someone elses...), and I can't really get the fence up until the last stump is out. I've also found what I assume was originally the support for the washing line - a large, deep lump of nuclear bunker grade concrete with a steel post through it - right where I want to put my rose bush. I may have to see just how deep the blighter goes, but 10" down it's still like Gibraltar, can belt it with the pickaxe and all that happens is I break my wrists.

On the other hand, I've worked out where I'm going to swipe spare cotoneaster from and, as it's in my front garden, I know it'll be fine for things like light and soil.
I've also found a couple of pyracantha in the "reduced" section at a local nursery, so paid £10 instead of £35.98. Trained into an odd shape, and rather pot bound, but a bit of TLC and space will sort both. I've also got some golden ivy that fell off my mother's garden potted up ready to go, and I've found that our local nursery (as opposed to garden centre - this is the real thing) will flog me a bare-rooted Great Maiden's Blush for a tenner - more cash for other things like appropriate seed mixes.

Add to that the three free trees I've just removed from the front driveway and heeled in that will fill another gap, and I'm doing OK... just need some action from next door on that last d**n tree!

Adrian
« Last Edit: January 05, 2020, 22:26:16 by gray1720 »
My garden is smaller than your Rome, but my pilum is harder than your sternum!

gray1720

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Re: Recommendations for North-facing wildlife planting please
« Reply #9 on: June 30, 2020, 17:25:39 »
In case anyone is bored of lockdown, and desperate for some drivel to read, I thought I'd give an update.

The bad news. That last tree is *still* effing there.

The good news - I am slowly accumulating bits and pieces to "do" the fence and garden. Only yesterday I picked up a bunch of re-usable metposts that will save me a a tenner apiece, and today picked up both plants and ideas at nearby Waterperry. They sell a number of different Hydrangea paniculata and dwarf buddhleias which will be added in Duke Horse. My efforts to grow geraniums from seed have finally borne fruit as I have a single Geranium phaeum seedling. Meanwhile I'm weeding out the local cranesbills furiously...

I've put much of my vast collection of "might come in handy" compost sacks down on the ground to keep the weeds from getting out of hand and I've also made a "pea fence". I reckoned that legumes would be a good call for something that would grow in crappy soil starved of nutrients by leylandii, and didn't know how often I'd be getting to the allotment, so I put up some wire net and planted peas along it. I now have several varieties of pea along it, hopefully giving a sucession, and enough for a few pleasant helpings and fresh peas in salads. Only problem is it's worked so well it might have to become a fixture!

As it turns out, despite facing almost due north, the garden is long enough that it will actually get a fair amount of sun from east and west. There will be a darker corner owing to the shedette, which I can exploit, and at the moment it gets a bit more sun that it will because the existing boundary fence is 3ft and I intend to go to 6ft, but I think it will be alright.

Then I have to replace the disintegrating shed... remove the concrete hardstanding... replace with topsoil, except the bit I want to pave... Ah well, it keeps me from spending all my money on beer and women!

Oh, ETA that I finally shifted the lump of concrete with a pick axe but buggered my back in the process and walked like John Wayne for a fortnight as a result. I reckon it started wobbling, so someone dug a big hole round it and threw in lots of brick ends and more concrete. It took some shifting!

Adrian
« Last Edit: June 30, 2020, 17:35:49 by gray1720 »
My garden is smaller than your Rome, but my pilum is harder than your sternum!