Help with planting small, shady border

For 15 years I have been very unhappy with my garden and I'm at a loss what to try next.
We have a very small garden which is paved. A raised shaped walled border provides our main planting space, but at its widest point is only 5' and at its narrowest is about 2'. To help with visualising it, imagine a rectangle with 2 overlapping circles in it (that's our paved area) the bit between the circles and the rectangle is the border. The border backs onto garages, which must be about 8' high. The only time the border gets sun is in the summer when the sun is directly overhead, but because of the side fences the period of time is very short. The second problem seems to be that due to its size it seems to have its own microclimate! We're inundated with slugs and snails and aphids. Although we encourage wildlife, we just don't get much other than the odd toad and sparrows.
Previous planting has involved plants not thriving, being eaten or ultimately being too big. Plants we've used include hostas (eaten) choisya (doesn't thrive), firethorn (doesn't flower), solomans seal (eaten) bamboo (died) periwinkle (overgrew everything). We've also got a varigated holly, which is okay, fuschia, which grows okay but too big. We've a lovely climbing rose, but the stems look very ugly because the rose (although tolerant of shade apparently) just grows upwards to reach the light, leaving nothing at eye level (remember these plants are already 2' up in the air because the border is raised). The only things that thrive are the ivies climbing up the garage wall, which is fine.
We have come to the conclusion that we need to scale everything down and start again. This time we're thinking maybe an ornamental type garden, with hostas and ferns, but how would we cope with the slugs. Would it help to put bark or slate down?
Any suggestions would be welcome.
Many thanks
Jane
--
Jafa

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For the slugs, put a pie tin with an inch of beer into the ground just enough so they can slide into it. Or go out at night with a flashlight & salt shaker and sprinkle them generously. I have no suggestions as to what to plant, but the ideas are more open without slugs. Nan in DE
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I'll put in my 2 cents by mentioning ferric(-3) phosphate(+3) (FePO4) is a snail and slug bait that is part iron, part phosphate (plant nutrient) which is used to poison the little gastropods. It is the active ingredient in Sluggo and "Home Despot" has an in house brand. See: http://projectcleanwater.org/pdf/ipm/snail_slug_pestcard.pdf This is a informational sheet put out by the University of California and it states that iron phosphate is save around children, pets, and wild life.
I have used it for about 18 months and it has relieved me of doing the midnight rounds with a flashlight to save my crops.
I'm very happy with it.
--

Billy
Kleptocrats Behind Bars
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Don't try to purchase the active ingredient from
<http://www.sciencelab.com/
Ordered on 7/2/08 and paid and still waiting.
call 1-800-901-7247 for a trip into no response
Bill
Bill
--
Garden in shade zone 5 S Jersey USA






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On 2/15/2009 1:40 AM, Jafa wrote:

Sorry for chiming in so late, but I just returned from a vacation in Maui. In the past, I also vacationed in Canada and England. Each has a different climate from my own.
This brings me to an important point. Where are you? What is YOUR climate?
--
David E. Ross
Climate: California Mediterranean
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