London (change)
17 messages
31/08/2013 at 19:18

I have just cleared a potential bed from ivy and brambles and am left with an empty space bar a couple of straggly hebes, a poorly peony and a smacking great holly tree which overshadows the area slightly less heavily now I've cut a lot of it off.  There are fir trees along one side, which are part of an avenue but of course shadow it some more, and our house on the other side which also blocks sunlight.  This is a raised bed with a slope at one end, where there is trellis (which was presumably put there to give the ivy a helping hand).  The whole area is shaped somewhat like a comma, about 18 feet long, 12 feet wide at one end and about 5 foot wide at the end.  Pictures follow:

 Any ideas as to what on earth I can plant here would be greatly welcomed - a full theme or design idea to work with would be great as I seem to have hit a blank as far as ideas go.  Thanks- Sara

31/08/2013 at 19:38

Hi Sara. I'm guessing it's going to be shady - and dry too? What kind of look do you want and can it be seen from the house? If you can see it from the house you might want to have winter and spring interest and you can always put some bulbs in amongst other planting. White plants help in darker areas as they stand out and if you can get some golden foliage in there too it will lift it. Hardy geraniums will be fine there and there are loads of bright ones if you want a burst of colour rather than white. Ferns are useful in those conditions too and you can get some lighter, more golden ones, and also some pale aquilegias and white hydrangeas. White wood anemones for the spring and also the Japanese ones for this time of year will grow there. Foxgloves for verticals.  I see you have a fuchsia there already- I had a very pale pink one many years ago and that could be a useful plant as it will lighten a shady space. The fir trees will take a lot of moisture and nourishment from the soil too so you'll need to use plants which thrive on poorer soil or be willing to put loads of manure and compost back in before planting. I'd do that anyway as the ground will be pretty starved.

Don't know if any of that's any use! 

31/08/2013 at 22:23

Hi FG - I had forgotten about anemones, that's a very good thought and I like the notion of lots of white/pale plants, perhaps with some aconitum and some hellebores mixed in?  Also someone said Heuchera grow in shade, but I don't know how much they'll take as the light is quite limited there.

I have some green and white stripy tulip bulbs coming soon, so I guess if I get those in first I'll have something to look forward to in spring if I haven't sorted the rest out by then!

01/09/2013 at 11:32

How about Lamium white nancy and tiarella for the bank



 Was just looking for a pic of white nancy to post but this one with the tiarella caught my eye and it too thrives in dry shade. There are also Astrantia and Epimediums both will grow in those conditions and don't forget Hostas too!

01/09/2013 at 12:02

Excellent thoughts, and looking up white nancy found me a nursery specialising in plants for shade, which isn't too far away either.  Have you (or anybody else) ever grown climbing monkshood? 

01/09/2013 at 12:10

Yes. Have to say a bit weedy. Looks better climbing in amongst something else. You thinking up the trellis or up a tree?

01/09/2013 at 12:17

Up the horrible holly tree, perhaps it needs something more vigorous - that flowers all the way up in the dark!

01/09/2013 at 12:25

Not sure if holly tall enough for Clematis montana Elizabeth. If not what about this one

01/09/2013 at 13:15

That's a pretty one.  The evil holly (the parent of the 60 million seedlings everywhere) is about 12 or 14 feet tall and too scary to top.  I have taken all the side shoots that weren't enormous boughs off up to about six foot because they kept prickling me in the er, nether regions while I was digging out ivy and sweeping the blasted leaves up.

01/09/2013 at 15:34

OUCH!  From the pic it looks like light coming in enough to get flowers lower down and this one does about 12 ft. Much pettier than the Hagley hybrid or Nelly Moser that grow in shade. They always look a bit wishwashy to me. You planning on any shrubs  there?   Weigela white knight would grow. You could have a mini Sissinghurst going on  White with a hint of....

01/09/2013 at 15:59


I,would not put your hebes or peony back there....they need sun. 

Dry shade means hellebores would struggle need to incorporate mushroom compost and plenty of it. Hydrangeas would not like it dry either.

Ferns.....funnily enough Monty has just used ferns for his dry shady area....would be first choice. The silver/red Japanese ferns too.

Sarcoccoca would go there. The yellow varieties of Heucheras would be happy there, appreciating the lack of sun.  I would also plant hackonochloa, acorus, Pulmonarias, brunneras, etc.  

Clematis nelly moser would like it there as would aucubas.  if you could ...again...incorporate generous compost arum Lilly would light up that area.  Skimmias ....get a couple for pollination.....and the shrubby winter honeysuckle would be happy there

01/09/2013 at 16:07
Sara 4 wrote (see)

Excellent thoughts, and looking up white nancy found me a nursery specialising in plants for shade, which isn't too far away either.  Have you (or anybody else) ever grown climbing monkshood? 

I have Sara. It's lovely but needs a little more moisture in the soil that I have here. I might try again as I've improved some areas of garden and it might work now. Better get some seeds

01/09/2013 at 17:51

Verdun, I might be wrong in claiming these things are hebe - they are small trees and you can see the one that's in the best condition in picture one.  Picture two shows the trunk of another one (there are three in total) but this only has greenery at the top, more or less hidden behind the himalayan honeysuckle.  I doubt if they'll ever grow any better than they do, so I suppose the choices are to chop them down or use them as a structure to grow something up.  I like the Japanese ferns Verdun and I  think whatever ends up going in here I'm going to have to find a way of diverting extra rainfall to it.  Enrichment wise I have an ongoing supply of horse manure and spent hops (I work at a brewery opposite a riding school) which hopefully should cheer the soil up.

I'm trying to aim for something a little different to what I have already in this odd section - Arums etc are going around the dark side of the pond, and I have quite a few Brunnera and Heuchera in and around yet another dark spot.

Japanese ferns AND Japanese Anemones have been mentioned though, so maybe that's a theme - I know Acers are ok with some shade but perhaps someone can tell me how much?

Cutlet, I've seen an advert for climbing monkshood corms, are these just seeds that have been around for a few years or is it a different thing altogether?

01/09/2013 at 19:46

Hello Sara, not sure that it's the same but I have a woodlandly bit underneath some mature beech trees. I've found that spring bulbs, ferns, cyclamen, campion, mallow, pulmonaria, bugle, wallflowers seem to do ok here. Looks like you've got a lot of dappled light there.

I've not grown them but maybe a dicentra bleeding heart might do ok as well

01/09/2013 at 20:18


Athyrium niponicum Ursulas Red.....Japanese painted lovely.  Blue grey leaves with red veins and stems.  Classy. There are others.  Yes, I would put an Acer there...dissectum purpureum variety would look good with those ferns.  White daffodils  and white tulips too.  Not sure anemones would like it too dry but with all that manure get some white hellebores.  I have some beautiful double whites.  Im drooling with the possibilities of,your new border.  Also try veronicastrum album.  Slender and graceful white spires in August

01/09/2013 at 20:35

You're only in Cornwall Verdun, you can pop up and give me a hand if you like ....  I have written a big list now; I have some green and white tulips on their way and I think the painted ferns with an acer would set each other off colourwise and go with what's left of the fuchsia;  I think the white nancy and tiarella would be good ground cover and as holly hock suggests a dicentra - perhaps alba rather than bleeding heart would look good, perhaps with green hellibores as well as white ones .... and now I have the opposite problem to not having any ideas because I want climbing monkshood and some other aconites too .....

Thank you everybody and I will put a picture up of this joint effort as soon as it comes to fruition .....

02/09/2013 at 23:24

Hi  ,  under our holly tree ( and I too took a lot of lower branches off for the same reason )  I find oddly enough that hosta's grow well if there is only a little light getting in - and being surrounded by holly leaves as a mulch for most of the year it keeps the weeds down and the sluggs away. alpine aqualiga too .plus many of the other suggestions. 

I keep the holly  leaves as they are a good mulch even in the summer they keep the moisture around the plants and they dont dry up so quick .They wilt a little but after a water they perk up .

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