In the early 2000s, I moved into my first garden. It was cramped and shaded throughout most of the day by a mature hazel tree in the bottom corner of the plot.
In an attempt to banish the gloom, I planted some of my favourite flowers - salvias
and then watched, perplexed, as they became spindly and sickly.
Sunflowers require a lot of sun!
I had made a common mistake – planting sun-lovers that were never destined to thrive in my dark garden.
Over the years, I’ve come to see shady areas as wonderful places to use a wide range of plants that don't mind less light.
Whether your border is situated in deep shade or in the dappled light under deciduous trees, there are many fabulous planting combinations that will rival any display of sun-loving plants.
These plants add a range of special qualities to borders – spring interest, attractive foliage, subtly different shades of green, evergreen structure and even highlights of vivid colour.
As with all border designs, it is helpful to consider evergreen structure first.
Shade-tolerant evergreen shrubs include Fatsia japonica
- happy in the deepest shade - and butcher’s broom
– a plant that has glossy red berries throughout summer and autumn.
Year-round foliage can also be added with shade-loving perennials such as the strap-like leaves of Liriope muscari
, the dark greens and deep purples of bergenia foliage (Bergenia ‘Overture’ and Bergenia cordifolia ‘Purpurea’
Bleeding heart 'Alba'
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Many edible plants require six hours of sunlight to crop successfully, but there are others that can be grown in partial shade and still produce a good harvest.
If your garden has a shady area on a patio or in courtyard, try growing low-growing hardy geraniums in pots like Geranium pratense
‘Midnight Ghost’ or Geranium sanguineum
They create a naturalistic atmosphere with soft foliage and months of blooms.
are also ideal in containers (it’s easier to keep the slugs at bay) and grouping different varieties together work really well.
look good in containers, although we find it’s worth treating pots with nematodes to prevent vine weevil grub damage to the roots. They thrive in partial shade and pair well with sedges like Carex buchananii or Carex elata ‘Aurea’.
Finally, for a burst of hot colour in a shady spot, fill pots with Begonia
‘Illumination Orange’, ‘Inferno’ and ‘Funky Orange’. With plants as dazzling and resplendent as these, shady areas will never be dull again!