Plants for shade

by Adam Pasco

Shade is probably one of the most challenging situations for plants to flourish in. Whether it's buildings, walls, fences, shrubs or trees, on the south side your plants bask in full sun but on the north side they'll be in cooler shade.

Plants for shade, Brunnera 'Jack Frost' Shade is probably one of the most challenging situations for plants to flourish in. Whether it's buildings, walls, fences, shrubs or trees, on the south side your plants bask in full sun but on the north side they'll be in cooler shade.

Choosing the right plant for the right place can be a difficult task, and the reality is that often the site we have is far from ideal.

Take the left-hand border in my garden. A beautiful silver birch sits close to the boundary fence, but at about 10m or more in height its spreading branches cast quite a shadow over the bed below. Being a deciduous tree its full canopy doesn't really develop until later in May, so many early flowering plants have time to bloom before the shade takes over.

My star performer over the past few years is a plant I can't recommend highly enough ... Brunnera 'Jack Frost'. Its large silvery leaves delicately tattooed with a green margin and veins shine out almost all year, even from deep summer shade. On dull days it cries out to be admired, and I'd grow it for its leaves alone. But at this time of year it adds a new dimension by producing erupting clouds of dainty forget-me-not blue flowers. Gorgeous! My brunnera grows alongside ferns and foxgloves, and my oriental hellebore.

The developing leaf canopy of the silver birch acts like an umbrella, preventing even the heaviest downpour from reaching the bed below, so this is one area I must carry a few cans of water to every month to ensure nothing dries out. Brunnera 'Jack Frost' copes well with dry shade, but if its leaves do flag I give the surrounding soil a good drenching.

A hundred snowdrops bought 'in the green' last month have also been planted through this border, and I'm keeping these watered until they completely die down. I can't wait to see their display next spring.

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Gardeners' World Web User 10/05/2008 at 14:42

I completely agree with the comments about Jack Frost. I myself planted one last year at the foot of my ancient apple tree. This year it is ten times the size and the flowers are just stunning. A real centre piece to the border which includes heuchera mocha and caramel as well as ferns, snowdrops, bellflowers, dwarf gladioli, astilbe the list goes on. A genuinely beautiful plant

Gardeners' World Web User 11/05/2008 at 08:45

As a beginner to this gardening I feel I need all the help I can get! Can anyone help me with any flowers that will survive with a small amount of sun (new flower bed is under a beautiful but large copper beech)

Gardeners' World Web User 12/05/2008 at 10:15

Yes, you can make a garlic solution to deter slugs and snails. I think this was shown on Gardeners' World last Friday if you saw the programme. The recipe demonstrated by a grower on the programme was, I believe: take 2 heads of garlic and crush. Boil in 2 pints of water for a few minutes. Make the solution back up to 2 pints. Now use by diluting 1 tablespoon of this solution in 1 gallon of water, and water the solution over the leaves so it dries on to form a barrier. Repeat applications after rain.

Gardeners' World Web User 16/05/2008 at 13:03

Does anyone know if the Garlic solution used against slugs and snails would also deter Rabbits? Or would they just consider it a tasty addition? It would be incredibly useful to deter two pests with one application of Garlic solution.

Gardeners' World Web User 20/05/2008 at 15:22

I have some shaded areas in my garden,one area I refer to as the woodland garden,this area is under a huge maple which I've named the devil tree, because of the thousands of little trees which have come up allover the garden this spring.I think this might be because of the wet weather in spring, because last year I didn't get any and we had at least 6 weeks of hot dry weather anyway all sorts of woodland plants do well,I have a watering system in it for very dry weather but I find a good few inch or pine bark works for most of the year.Under a silver birch on the other side is very different, its heavy clay soil dries out to a very hard cracked surface but 3 plants which do very well are Pulmonaria(lungwort)which is so bright and lovely,Aquilegia which come in so many colours and Hardy geranium and the best thing about these three is the slugs and snails leave them alone,unlike the woodland flowers which I've started visiting at dark looking for slugs and snails.

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