Wild flower meadow project (January 2021)

Happy New Year everyone.

I was asked the other day “how is your wild flower meadow coming on” which made me realise that an update is long over due. My last update was last April and at that stage I thought things were developing OK.

May 30th

Along side the fence there was a strip about 1.5 metres wide where I had added extra soil to fill a depression in the original sheep field. This was beginning to look promising.

The annual mix that had been added to the seed was beginning to look good together with some perennial wild flowers.
And there was evidence of Yellow Rattle in the grass

June 20th

By mid June this strip was looking great although we could see it was mainly the annuals that were flowering, not quite the wild flower meadow in our dreams.

Looking across the meadow it was clear that the only really successful plant was the original grass. The meadow had sheep on it for many years but I had been told that if I cut the grass really short and scarified the ground before planting the wild flower mix then it should be OK. Clearly the grass was too vigorous and maybe the ground to fertile.

I contacted our local wild flower seed supplier, Naturescape, for advise. They suggested a number of ways forward but they all involved killing off the original grass.

July 6th

The first task was to cut the grass.

The grass prior to cutting.

I had already purchased the mechanical scythe and this was its first outing together with the operator with a very lock down amount of hair. (in the UK lock down hairdressers where closed)!

It made short work of cutting the grass.

Next it was now time to kill off the grass. I do not normally use glyphosate in our garden but needs must. After a couple of weeks the grass had died back and I rotavated the ground to break up the surface layer. This action also encourages weed and grass seed to germinated so after another four weeks I sprayed the glyphosate again.

By now the ground was looking clean and ready for seeding. However, before seeding we decided to plant some more spring bulbs.

The drifts of Narcissus Pheasant Eye had been beautiful earlier in spring and we took the opportunity to plant more.

Another 1000 Narcissus Pheasant Eye, 1500 Snakeshead Fritillaria Meleagris  and 1000 English Bluebells, Hyacinthoides non-scripta all planted over a couple of days!

September 1st

The ground was now ready for seeding. This time on the advice of Naturescape we had a bespoke mix made up. Normally a seed mix for a new meadow would be 20% wild flower seed and 80% grass seed. We had a 50% wild flower seed mix made together with the least vigorous grasses.

October 19th

The ground has been seeded and the autumn leaves are beginning to drop

December 15th

The seeds are beginning to germinate and we are keeping our fingers crossed!

The wild flower seedlings and some grasses

Closer up a good range of wild flower seed has germinated. At this stage we would not expect all the seeds to have germinated. Some need winter frost and others will not appear until April/May.

So far so good. What I have learned is the importance of having a clean seed bed before you start. Unless you are sowing in particularly poor soil then you will probably need to eliminate any existing grasses ec.

We are all hoping 2021 is going to be a better year. Mass vaccination should help us all get back to normal although I fear it will take six months before we can start to relax a little. Thank goodness we have our garden to continue to enjoy.

End of Month View – March 2018

18_03_29_8568Another frosty morning but at last all the roses on the wall have all been pruned. It has been slow work with a week of snow on the ground and at least another week of rain. 18_03_29_8570There are a few roses that still need sorting out. A bit late but I am sure they will survive. 18_03_29_8571The weather certainly resulted in an early finish for the snowdrops which were looking great. In the last week the sun has come out and the temperature is more back to normal, around at 11c. With the extra temperature you could almost see the garden bursting into live. This bed should be full of tulips in a few weeks and it is great to see flower buds coming through as well as leaves.18_03_29_8572One big job that has been completed is the annual cut of the pleached lime hedge, Tila platyphyllos rubra. See Creating and maintaining a pleached lime hedge

18_03_22_8560The Indian limestone paving by the house was put down about twenty years ago and has started to move losing much of the grout.18_03_22_8558This is in the process of being lifted and re-bedded and re-grouted.

 

It should be finished in another week.

 

I am not a big fan of daffodils. They look great when they are out but the leaves do hang around for a long time after flowering. The solution I have used to good effect is to plant them around the boundary of the garden which is effectively the back of the beds. The leaves can then be left as other plants grow up in front of them.

 

Iris Histrioides Katherine Hodgkin has been a success elsewhere in the garden. At the end of last year I planted them through the Stone edged circle bed. I was concerned that the squirrels had been having dinner on the bulbs as last month there was no sign of them. However, they are now out and looking great. Over time I hope they will multiply and form a snake through the bed.18_03_25_8564This little gem flowered for the first time this year. This is Erythronium Snowflake and they were planted in 2015. A long wait but worth it so I may be tempted to buy some more!18_03_25_8562Another good doer is the corkscrew hazel, Corylus avellana ‘Contorta’, which always has a good display of catkins.

2018 Gardening Hours
Week beginning March 24th Total 2018 to-date Average per week
36 160 13

A busy week and the average is beginning to grow towards last years average of 20 hours a week.

Do have a look at Helen The Patient Gardener’s blog where you fill find links to other gardens at the end of March. Thank you to Helen for hosting this meme.

End of Month View – February 2018

18_02_24_8528The view across the garden has not really changed yet since the start of the year but elsewhere as we will see spring is beginning to burst out. It has been very cold -5c at night for the last few days and the outlook is snow so it is lucky I have taken some photos already.

Over the years we have split and planted snowdrops in a number of our beds and at this time of year they reliably put on a great display for little cost. I have never gone out of the way to buy some of the expensive snowdrop bulbs and have been more than happy with the effect that is created. There are some singles which were probably here 25 years ago when we moved here and some doubles which we introduced. The great thing about snowdrops is that once they have finished flowering the leaves etc soon die off and can be removed and the bed is ready for the next display eg tulips etc.18_02_25_8536Some of the cyclamens are also out with snowdrops and Iris Histrioides Katherine Hodgkin. These all look a bit frosted.

I had hoped for some new planting of crocus this year but unfortunately the grey squirrel has dug them up and eaten them. The odd thing is that once established the squirrels seem to leave them alone. Next year I will have to plant them in pots (out of the way of the squirrels) and effectively “plant them in the green” which has worked before.

Here are some of the Glebe House Hybrids. See Ashwood Hellebore Nursery18_02_25_8543The aconites  Eranthis Hyemalis that I planted last year have come back and are in flower. See Aconites and others spring delights18_02_25_8540Crown imperial fritillary are coming through at a great speed. They have been coming back each year for 15 years now.18_02_24_8532One of the delights of the winter border is Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire’ looking really good against the yew hedge. It does have a habit of running which means a bit of work later in the year to control it and maybe some free plants from the runners! However the colour at this time of year is hard to beat.18_02_01_8523One of the jobs that I have been slow to do this year is tidying up the climbing roses. This is Rosa ‘Shot Silk’  and you can see extensive vertical growth from last year. These vertical growths need to be persuaded into the horizontal. Unfortunately they are not well behaved and often you will find they have grown up behind the wires which can mean having to remove the wire, releasing all the other branches that have been fixed to the wire in previous years!18_02_01_8525In addition some of the growth has died back and this needs to be removed.18_02_24_8526After about six hours of work and many scratches then you can stand back and admire the result. To a large degree this is the main maintenance work on a climbing rose.

That’s the good news but we do have many climbing roses that all need tiding up. “Before” and “After” for Rosa ‘Alchemist’ a great rose that has been here for at least 25 years.18_02_25_8542And another one just completed, Rosa ‘Alister Stella Grey’.18_02_25_8545Lastly the Pyracantha ‘Orange Glow’ which has been trained horizontally above a lot of different spring flowers is really visible this year as there are also three Rosa ‘Jacques Cartier’ which are normally in front of the pyracantha. These had not done well recently and we have cut done right down to grown level to regenerate them.

2018 Gardening Hours
Week beginning
February 174th
Total 2018 to-date Average per week
10 70 10

So far this year we are well behind last years average of 20 hours a week. It is no wonder I am still pruning the roses! When the snow stops I must get out and do some more!

Do have a look at Helen The Patient Gardener’s blog where you fill find links to other gardens at the end of February. Thank you to Helen for hosting this meme.

End of Month View – November 2017

This year November has been the major clean up of the garden ready for winter and more importantly ready for spring.17_11_23_7452You can see that most of the herbaceous materials have been removed. In some ways I would liked to have keep more of the seed heads for the birds etc., however, in order to plant the bulbs (over 1500 bulbs, see list here)  and spread mulch we need access to the beds.17_11_23_7453The twiggy material goes through a shredder and is then added is bagged up ready to add to the compost heap, the softer material goes straight on to the heap. Only the pertinacious weeds (eg ones with tap roots) get thrown away. In this way we recycle at least 95% of all the plant material. The green link stakes are stored in one of our outbuildings. Given we have 1000’s of such stakes in many different sizes this is quite an exercise in itself. If anyone has a good suggestion of how to store these stakes I would love to know it.17_11_23_7455A border almost totally cleared ready for bulbs etc

17_08_25_6889
And the same corner in August!

17_11_28_7465Tulip bulbs ready for planting17_11_28_7464And the under-gardener planting bulbs on a cold, crisp November day.

17_11_24_7462Now we have easy access to the climbing roses I need to turn my mind to pruning and tying in the new growth.17_11_28_7463To the right of the pond more tulips bulbs waiting to be planted.17_11_24_7460The plastic sheet hanging from the pergola serves two purposes. It keeps the rain off the wooded bench but more importantly it keeps the rain off two small peach trees which are planted in tubs either side of the bench. This should avoid peach leaf curl.17_11_24_7461Another border ready for winter and the spring.17_07_27_6785And the same border in July.17_11_28_746717_11_28_7466Elsewhere we have planted bulbs and have spread a mulch dressing onto the soil. This is Ivy’s bed on the garden map. There is plenty more mulch spreading yet to do!

2017 Gardening Hours
Week beginning Nov 25th Total 2017 to-date Average per week
30 1004 21

If you would like to join in with this meme you are very welcome – add a link to your post in the comments box and please link to this post from your blog so readers can find other EoMV posts. There are no rules about what you post. Maybe you want to focus on one area through the year or give a general tour, whatever suits you is fine with me.

Planning for the future – a design challenge II

In November I discussed a design challenge in our garden. This is an update prior to contractors arriving to lay down the hard landscaping. 6-mock-upThe design challenge was to create a plan for the area of garden behind the wall which had been used as a general dumping area. Things have moved on and we now have a plan for the paths which were to follow the diagonal lines above.LayoutThe bricks will be laid in the form of a “knot”although we do need to think through how the corners work. There are two options, the right end or the left but this is probably best done when we have the bricks on site and have measured out the overall shapes.

The bricks took some time to identify. They needed to be suitable for paths but also not to look  wrong next to the old wall which was built in 1704. The bricks we have chosen are Old English clay pavers from Chelmer Valley.old-english-5This picture shows them when they have been laid flat. However, we have decided to lay them on their edge. This has the advantage of better matching the bricks in the wall and it makes it easier to haunch them without the mortar showing along their edges.Cotswold-Blend-on-edgeTo give an idea of how they will look these pavers (slightly different from the ones we have chosen) have been laid on their edge, so our paths will be similar to the diagonal run of bricks.

Between the paths will be gravel; up to a metal edge along the edge of the lawn, up to the wall and around the trees themselves.

Picture5To achieve a unified design the gaps through the yew hedge and by the fruit cage will have have the same pavers laid in a similar way. These changes will give a very strongly defined lawn area which will be a precise rectangle and be symmetrical around the opening in the far yew hedge. This will also make lawn maintenance easier.

Lastly we shall have the same pavers laid along the edge of the small lawn which is up a step from the new design area. Picture3This small lawn is adjacent to the large pond area  which is surrounded by similar pavers bringing a continuity to the design.17_04_25_5378

6-mock-upWe have also decided on the trees. These will be Sorbus ‘Autumn Spire‘ – narrow, upright small trees with excellent autumn colour once established. The final choice of tree was determined by the site which only gets limited sunshine and the need for a tree that would not undermine the wall. Many thanks to people who suggested alternatives.

Until now the area has been a dumping ground!

but during the last few weeks I have been sorting out the good stuff from the rubbish and has amassed many river cobbles and granite sets that I am sure I will find uses for elsewhere in the garden. (I just need to find somewhere to store them now)

The contractors should arrive on September 19th so there should be another blog later in the year to show the result. We have wanted to do something here for at least 15 years so at long last something is happening. This is the last significant are of our garden to be developed.

17_09_07_6941And if you were wondering how the pigeons were doing here they are! They have just about doubled in just over a week and really the nest is hardly big enough for both of them.

2017 Gardening Hours
Week beginning
September 2nd
Total 2017 to-date Average per week
33 771 21

No room in the greenhouse!

At this time of year the greenhouse becomes an essential building in any garden, large or small.17_03_23_5111Despite having a relatively large garden the greenhouse is not very large. The location is not ideal either as it faces west and has a large wall to the south and east. You may well ask “why did you put it here?” I would say that the main reason was that we did not want to spoil the views down the garden and the only other sensible location was totally shaded by a large old apple tree. Actually the location does have the advantage that it does not get over hot in the middle of summer.

Nevertheless, at this time of year I am always wishing that it was a bit bigger.17_03_23_5105At the end are Osteospermum cutting that have been over wintered and a bay tree which I bring in to protect it from the winter frosts.

On the left you can see dahlia tubers that have been planted up in potting compost and about two weeks ago received their first watering. I tend to lift all our tubers as we used to get hard frosts which could be fatal for any left in the ground. After drying them off (in an upside down position so that any liquids can flow out) they are then potted up in dry potting compost and kept either in the garage or under the staging in the greenhouse. 17_03_23_5109There is not enough staging so some are started off on the ground.17_03_23_5108On the right as you enter there are even more! The issue I have is that I always end up with more dahlia plants than I started with and I am always reluctant to throw away anything that could make a good plant. The greenhouse just get fuller!17_03_23_5110It is amazing how quickly the tubers burst into life. This one is Dahlia Arabian Night a beautiful dahlia with large, fully-double flower-heads of dark burgundy-red.

In a few weeks the dahlias will all have grown to maybe 30 cm high and I will cut out the growing tips to encourage more bushy plants. However they will need to be kept in the greenhouse until the frosts have finished in May. This immediately presents an issue as during this time there are many seed to plant and grow.17_03_23_5106This is already underway with trays of cosmos and poppies and in the incubator tomatoes and many more exotic flowers. This becomes a huge juggling act and eventually the whole floor will be covered with plants and the scent becomes overpowering. The aconites and Anemone Blanda White Splendour have already been moved out and I described these in Aconites and others spring delights.17_03_23_5107Two trays that will soon be ready to plant out are Anemone Nemerosa Robinsoniana  which I treat in a similar way to the aconites.

There is a very critical timing when the tomatoes need their final potting up and need to be located in their final position in the greenhouse. To do this some of the staging is removed and I just have to hope that we can get the dahlias planted out at that time.

Gardening Hours
This week Total since June 19th Average per week
12 621 16

Aconites and others spring delights

After snowdrops Eranthis hyemalis winter aconites are one of the delights of spring. This woodland member of the buttercup family will swiftly multiply to form a glowing carpet of golden yellow flowers each spring. The cup shaped blooms of the winter aconite attract pollinating insects into the spring garden, and associate beautifully with snowdrops and bluebells for a spectacular woodland display. Virtually maintenance free, Eranthis hyemalis are ideal for planting in the dappled shade of deciduous trees, or naturalised in informal areas of grass.

However, I have found from experience they are hard to establish. The cheapest way to buy them is as small tubers but I have not had much success planting these directly in the borders. Maybe I was just feeding the mice but they seldom came up! However, I have found that planting in pots of compost in the autumn and leaving in a cool greenhouse is generally successful. 17_02_22_4980On the right the Winter Aconites and on the left  Anemone Blanda White Splendour which I treat in the same way. An additional benefit of this approach is that the greenhouse gets full of the scent of the Winter Aconites which is fantastic.

17_03_04_5026The border with the snowdrops beginning to fade.

17_03_04_5027The winter aconites ready for planting

17_03_04_5028The border now with a few splashes of yellow which will establish themselves into large clumps over the next few years.

Other spring delights

17_03_04_5031Everywhere you look at this time of year spring bulbs are bursting out.17_03_04_5032Crocus Pickwick coming back every year.

17_03_04_5035Borders of Helleborus Ashwoods Hybrids doing their own thing.17_03_04_5036

 

17_03_04_5037Crocus Joan of Arc under a row of step-over apples with tulips emerging behind.17_03_04_5038What could be more wonderful!

Gardening Hours
This week Total since June 19th Average per week
15 589 16

Creating and maintaining a pleached lime hedge

img_1907The pleached lime hedge in full summer splendor and below a week ago. 16_12_29_4654

The hedge was planted about 17 years ago as we were developing the structure of the garden.img060If you get the leaflet from the RHS on pleaching hedges then they suggest putting in metal posts with wires to train the horizontals as they grow. At the time I certainly did not have the time or inclination to set up the wires so I created a  frame using bamboo fixed to the trees themselves. img059Each year the hedge was tied in and, as the trees grow, new bamboo layers were fixed in place to train in the new growth.

The lime trees are Tila platyphyllos rubra and are under-planted with Rosa Alfred de Dalmas and Lavandula augustifolia Hidcote together with alliums and lilies. The alliums have been a great success but the lilies are no longer present.img061 The photograph above is about the third summer after planting.

27_05_16_2436The hedge above is at the height we have had it for many years. The bamboo frame has more or less rotted away and we think the hedge looks great.  .In spring the alliums stand out against the new leaves of the hedge and roses.2010_20100624_509And in summer the roses come into their own. In this photograph there are a lot of allium seed heads which I remove as I have found that leaving them results in far too many alliums the following year.2010_20100624_511Rosa Alfred de Dalmas is a Mossy Damask shrub rose with creamy pink, semi-double cupped flowers with yellow stamens, and a delicate sweet scent that attracts pollinators. It flowers from mid-June to November and benefits from lush foliage and tidy manageable growth. Its moss is greeny pink, turning to russet red on older shoots.

Hedge maintenance

17_01_04_4659Once a year there is a significant job to be done to keep the border looking good. 17_01_04_4660First the roses are cut back and any dead wood is removed. The vertical bamboo are a relatively new addition. I have planted a range of clematis that are designed to grow into the hedge to give late summer interest. It is early days but it seems to work. The clematis are Clematis Blue AngelClematis Perle d’Azur and Clematis Ville de Lyon.
17_01_07_4661The side of the hedge facing the lawn together with the top is then cut. I find it is best to do this with secateurs either reducing the shoots to a single bud or weaving the shoot into the structure as required.17_01_08_4665Almost complete, just the cuttings to shred ready for the compost!17_01_08_4662The finished hedge. A once a year job but it is worth it giving a unique pleached lime hedge.17_01_08_4664Technically the hedge is not a traditional pleached lime hedge which would have very distinct horizontals. 17_01_08_4663However, take a look at the pruned hedge and you can see that it creates an enormous amount of winter interest and makes an effective hedge.

Gardening Hours
This week Total since June 19th Average per week
15 498 17

Lawns, lawns,Lawns!

06_07_16_2770As is often the case in Britain, a lawn plays a fundamental part of the design and structure of our garden. The various shapes of lawn we have have developed over the years are designed to keep their maintenance to a minimum. 16_08_08_3140 For example we plan to extend the stone step across the lawn to make it much easier to mow along the edge of the yew hedge.16_08_04_2974However, there is no such thing as a maintenance free lawn. Through the year our lawns are cut (approximately once a week taking two hours to cut) and in addition scarified, aerated, fed and edged.08_07_16_2796As well as providing open spaces in a garden, lawns also provide a way of leading the eye into the garden. This is improved if the lawn edges are sharp and tidy.20_06_16_2693Our soil is a sandy loam which means that the edges of lawns were always disintegrating and crumbling away. Over the years some edges had moved up a foot from their original line. Last year we decided it was time to invest in metal edges. Metal edging is not cheap to do and our garden required 250 metres of edging.  There are contractors that will provide bespoke edging usually using 4 millimeter thick steel plus a lot of on site welding. Curves again create extra difficulties. In my experience they are also very expensive.

We decided to do it ourselves and used a product called EverEdge They have a range of products which would be suitable for small lawns as well as larger lawns. The product we used was ProEdge which is 2.5mm thick and comes in 2.5m lengths. I feel that the longer length is a real asset as it makes getting smooth curves easier and straight lines straighter.16_08_29_3313The product arrives in packs of five lengths.  Each length is designed to interlock to form a continuous edge. 16_08_29_3312I have ended up using a variety of tools to install the edging. The ideal edge to the lawn will need to be defined and where this is not adjacent to the existing lawn I use wooden stakes as a guide. In theory EverEdge  can be hammered into position using a mallet. However, any stone will make it impossible to hammer it home. I have found it best to use a spade and work along the edge down to the depth of the edging before the EverEdge is inserted. Any stones will  be located and can be removed before inserting the EverEdge. (There is one such stone near the small hand fork) Once this is done EverEdge can be easily fitted. 16_08_29_3314It is possible to bend EverEdge to form an an angle by hand although there will be a small radius on the corner. Unless you already have a perfect lawn there will be considerable work after fitting the EverEdge.  This involves sorting out dips in the lawn and back filling gaps where the original lawn did not run true to the line. 16_08_29_3311We have a number of walls adjacent to the lawn. We have always left a gap so that we could mow up to the walls. With the metal edge in place we have put down a weed membrane and gravel to give a very tidy finish. This photograph also demonstrates that with a little bit of persuasion 2.5m lengths of EverEdge can be made to  give a continuous edge that changes level and and the same time goes round a corner!

Overall, once installed the metal edge has made the whole process of lawn edge maintenance much easier.

The one job in the garden that we have contacted out is feeding, moss killing, weed killing scarification and solid-tine aeration. We currently use a company called LawnMaster.

The solid-tine aeration leaves small holes across the whole lawn.

Basically there are four treatments a year with the fertilizers designed for each season and moss and weed killing where required.

So lawns are not a way of avoiding maintenance but they can be a great asset to the overall garden._mg_1322

Planning for the future – a design challenge

This is the time of year when we all get out our garden notebooks and start to think about what needs to change in the garden.16_10_26_3589This is the view across our garden and shows the old kitchen garden wall. Actually our garden extends beyond the garden wall although the large sycamore tree is actually in our neighbour’s garden. The other side of the wall includes some utility areas.16_08_08_3140To the right is a fruit cage and then through the gap is the compost area. Directionally, this is looking to the south west.3area-looking-towards-south-westOn the left is a dumping area. Every year we feel we should do something here but what?2-area-looking-north-eastSame area from the other end, looking to the north east.4-the-wallArea viewed from the compost area.  The issues are that on this side of the wall, due to a lower ground level, the wall is very tall, behind me is the compost area which is shaded by the sycamore (mentioned above). The wall is running from the north east to the south west so, combined with the sycamore tree, the area gets limited direct sun although it is not a dense shade. See also the garden map to further understand the layout.

This area is not a prime area within the garden. We wanted a relatively low maintenance solution which takes into account the light issues. Ideally we also wanted an area that feels different from the rest of the garden.5-area-to-have-gravel-and-pavingFirst I have taken a photograph and modified it adding an area which I am planning to be some type of hard landscaping. (It is much easier cleaning up an area on Photoshop!). This will define the lawn and make it symmetrical around the way through the yew hedges.6-mock-upNext I have added some trees. These were provisionally multi-stemmed silver birch. I am yet to do a detailed plan for the hard landscaping but essentially the diagonal lines are to represent courses of bricks (about four courses wide ) that would create five 1m by 1m planting holes for the trees. The planting hole would have a weed membrane and gravel to finish. At this stage I am still thinking about the triangular areas by the wall and by the lawn. These could be gravel which would keep it simple or they could be cobbles which we have elsewhere in the garden and would form some continuity.

The big question is what trees to buy? On this decision there were a few of constraints. The centre of the planting hole is 1.45m from the wall so roots could be an issue, any wind we have comes from the south west and can be cold so despite the wall it is not the warmest of sites and lastly we wanted this to be fairly instant gardening so we were looking to buy trees of at least 1.75m. We are on a sandy loam soil which is free draining.

I have talked to one of the best local tree suppliers. Bluebell Nursery is an award-winning, traditional working nursery, specialising in rare and unusual trees, shrubs, climbers and conifers based in South Derbyshire, England. At this stage they have had the above brief and come up with some suggestions:

  • Amelanchier lamarckii ‘Ballerina’ – small, rounded tree with masses of spring flower and decent autumn colour.
  • Drimys winteri – unusual evergreen tall shrub/small tree with glossy green leaves and white flowers once established. Should enjoy being near a wall.
  • Sorbus ‘Autumn Spire – narrow, upright small tree with excellent autumn colour once established.
  • Eucryphia x intermedia ‘Rostrevor’ – small, upright and fairly narrow evergreen tree with masses of white flowers in late summer/early autumn. Should enjoy the shade and grow well next to a wall.

Another we considered was Styrax japonica but unfortunately, it would not be very tall initially for instant gratification. However, they would come into their own after a few years in which to get established. As for the  multi-stemmed silver birch the advice was that we would definitely risk damage to the wall in time and even if not the case, as the wall is so tall you would be unlikely to have perfectly symmetrical habits forming as they would tend to grow towards the light given the opportunity.

At this stage we favour the Sorbus but the jury is still out.

Any suggestions gratefully welcomed.