My New Shade Garden

Lots of us have areas of shade in our gardens,  bits of space behind obstacles, fences, under trees and so on, and I have more than my fair share of shade, due to trees, as I've mentioned before. We have thinned out the trees to some extent over the years, but there is still a large area which will not accommodate plants requiring a "normal" amount of sun, and light. Additionally, areas under trees are often quite dry as the tree drinks up vast amounts of water, and its foliage acts as an umbrella to the ground below. This is a part of the scrubby bit of garden that I've chosen for my shade garden, where nothing much grows apart from weeds. So this is a "before" picture, the "after" picture will be a bit later...

Anyway, enough complaining, I have decided to make more of shade loving plants, and for the water requirements I will just have to bite the bullet, and make sure that I provide sufficient irrigation for them to survive.  If anyone's looking for planting ideas for such an area, the plants I've used so far are

Hosta  -Fire and Ice
Digitalis Lutea - the yellow foxglove
Sarcococca Confusa and Sarcococca Hookerianum, - Christmas Box, or Sweet Box in the US I think
Tellima grandiflora
Primula bulleyana - Candelabra primula
Primula denticulata - White Drumstick primula
Dicentra spectabilis Alba - the white form of  bleeding heart
Polygonatum hybridum -  no shady area would be complete without the wonderful elegant arches of solomans seal - one of my favourite plants, (I have it under some other trees)

All the above are plants known to do well in shady areas, but I have also planted a few things in slightly better conditions, in the hope that they will do ok. Concentrating mainly on white and lighter colours I have planted

Philadelphus, Belle Etiole - shrub with white scented flowers in summer
Physostegia Alba - vigorous herbaceous perennial, with spikes of white flowers
"Ground cover" rose - white, these are sold by most garden centres, and although not a choice plants for a rosarian, they are tough as old boots, grow in difficult positions, and are very trouble free and floriferous. Some of the colours are a bit garish, so white should be ok I'm thinking.
Viburnum plicatum "Maresii" a wonderful shrub with tiers of white blossom in early summer.
I already have the native viburnum opulus, or guelder rose,  which is doing reasonably well, in the mid-shade area.

Some of these are experiments, so I will have to keep a regular eye on them and watch the watering needs, especially over the first summer.  Updates follow in due course.


  1. I love Soloman's Seal and just put some in my shade garden (basically most of my yard). You have given me some good suggestions.

  2. Oh, I would love a lovely English garden. (Not much shade here, I'm afraid.) It is going to be wonderful and I am sure a lot of work! (But worth it!)

  3. I just wanted to say I really enjoy your blog! Keep up the great work!!

    Common Cents

    ps. Link Exchange??

  4. Your shade garden will be wonderful. They are a perfect place to sit on a hot summer day. I am envious of your shady spaces. Too much full sun here. I guess too much of anything is not good.

  5. Looking forward to the "after" post and progress. I love shade gardens, ours is the result of a very large Redwood (Sequiadendron giganteum) which I planted in 1982. It also makes the soil very acidic, nothing seemed to grow there except Acanthus mollis or Bear's Breeches, which has flourished. They are very easy to propagate and have not only glossy green foliage but get that lovely flower spike.

  6. how are you going to sort out the slug menace?

  7. Sounds like it should be lovely! I love Foxgloves, but cannot seem to grow them. I am thinking maybe now its due to the heat here and sun...I will try some in the shade. I didn't realize they were a shade plant!

  8. i love shade gardens....solomon's seal is wonderful.

  9. Hi Louise, I'm sure it will do well for you in that environment

    Hello Sharon, Ah but would you love the english weather to go with it? Funny how we gardeners never quite get the exact balance of sun/rain that we want, I guess that's life though!

    Hi Leslie, I'm afraid I'm often to be found bemoaning my excess of shade...wish I could swap some with you

    Thanks Steve, you're very kind.

    What a good idea, Doc, I will definately add the Acanthus mollis to my plant list.

    Hi John, Do you know I haven't given it a thought yet.. my son has had some success this year with the water-on nematode thing though, I might try this at least in the most vulnerable periods if I have to. Thanks for the reminder.

    Hi Texan, funny thing with foxgloves, they seem to like choosing their own residence I've noticed, sometimes in the oddest places - I think you have to coddle them a bit until they get established, plenty of water should help.

    Hi Chasity,yes, solomon's seal is one of my favourites too, thanks for commenting

  10. Solomon's seal bring to mind elves and fairies dancing in your beautiful garden. I would like to plant some new plants on our property, but the chickens would eat the new stuff. I will enjoy your lovely garden!

  11. Hi Callie, I'm keeping the poultry well secured in runs for the time being, the fox menace is so high currently, that we would have none at all if I allowed them to free range again. They are just everywhere this year.


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