After a trip to B&Q and Homebase with my gardening expert friend, we came home (via friend's garden) with a couple of bags of compost and these:
we planted them all (following friend's detailed instructions) :
and found them a nice shady bit:
I also got round to (finally) starting the weeding on this little bit out front. Its the only bit of our garden which isn't paved or gravel, and I'd let it get into an awful state. I think what was putting me off is that someone had let their dog use it as a toilet, seemingly on a regular basis. Hopefully one day I will catch them and chase them down the road with a plastic bag!! Anyway, I begrudgingly cleared it of dog crap and will carry on weeding now until it looks beautiful.