Growing plants in shady parts of the garden can be a challenge, but there are simply two things you need to do for success:
- Improve the soil
Whatever your soil is like, it will be improved by incorporating organic matter in some form or other . Use plenty of home-made compost, soil improver or well-rotted farmyard manure and dig it into planting holes and spread it as a thick mulch (10cm/4in) over the damp soil every year. A mulch will seal in moisture, inhibit weed growth and gradually breakdown over a period of time to improve the structure of the soil.
- Choose the right plants
Make sure that the plants are suitable for shade and the soil conditions in your garden, otherwise they’ll always struggle and be susceptible to pests and diseases.
- Skimmia japonica Rubella: a low growing evergreen shrub with glossy leaves, has clusters of dark red flower buds in winter that open revealing white flowers in the spring. 1m high x 1m wide.
- Daphne mezereum Alba: a woodland plant, it has sweetly scented flowers in February-March before the leaves appear. 1.5 x 1.5m.
- Sarcococca hookeriana Digyna: a choice evergreen shrub, fabulous scent in winter from tiny white flowers. It needs good, fertile soil. 1.5 x 1.5.
4. Fatsia japonica: an exotic looking shrub with large glossy leaves, doesn’t like very dry soil. It grows to 2m high x 1m wide.
- Viburnum davidii: an evergreen shrub with handsome deeply veined leaves, the flowers aren’t very exciting, but these are followed by metallic blue berries in May on female plants 1.5 x 1.5.
These are plants that usually (there are some exceptions)die back in the winter and re-emerge again the following spring.
- Acanthus mollis: (bears breeches) a deciduous plant with large glossy, it has large purple/white tall flower spikes in late summer and prefers a rich soil. 1.2 x 1m.
- Arum italicum Marmoratum: has glossy, arrow shaped marbled leaves, in spring it produces spikes of bright red berries above the foliage. looks great with small bulbs such as snowdrops, crocus etc. 30cm high x 25cm wide.
- Bergenia Bressingham White: (elephants ears) large evergreen leaves, it produces attractive clusters of white flowers on tall stems in early spring, 20cm high x 20 cm wide
- Liriope muscari: a small plant with neat, grassy leaves that has spikes of blues flowers in summer, the leaves are a good contrasting shape to many other plants. 25 cm high x 25 cm spread.
- Milium effusum Aureum: ( Bowles golden grass) golden yellow grass like foliage appears in spring, brightening up dark, shady corners. 60 cm high x 30cm spread. See photo above.
Next week I’ll be writing about plants for sunny spaces in your garden.
Photos: fruit&veg.co.uk, broadleighbulbs.co.uk,r.h.s..co.uk.