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Non poisonous /edible plants for shady clay soil.?

(10 Posts)
AnathemaPratchett Tue 23-Jun-15 23:06:35

Please help. Everything I plant dies. Or get trampled on. Or eaten - by slugs and/or children.

I have a south facing garden, and a bed of rosebay willow herb in the shade of the bottom fence - so it never gets sun. Rosebay willow herb and Dock seem to be the only things that flourish there. And they are not particularly pretty plants, and everyone knows they are weeds so I can't even pretend grin

So please.any ideas? My toddler keeps sampling plants after I took her strawberry picking so it needs to be fairly safe until I get her out of that habit. And she's killed the rosemary I planted by trampling on it. Not that it was doing very well anyway. The mints and thyme have been eaten by slugs and goodness knows what else. The lobelia and sweet peas are just looking sad and pathetic... I'm out of ideas.

The previous owners had very straggly and dying conifers there. Which we cut down.


Qwebec Tue 23-Jun-15 23:53:44

here for the edible part:

About half of the kinds of hostas get eaten up by slugs and the other half is left intact by them. The list is pretty long but here is an article with a few suggestions.

Apparently solomon's seal is edible when young and the slugs leave mine alone, but you would need to check about the edible part on mature stems, I'm not sure.

funnyperson Wed 24-Jun-15 01:02:36

Do you have an outside tap for your hose to be able to water the garden easily? I only ask because if everything is dying it could be that the garden is quite dry and perhaps your plants need a bit more water than they have been getting.
Also it could be good to spread a 4 inch later of compost and manure on top of your beds to give the soil a bit of nutrition and structure.
You need to plant tall things and shorter things. Peas and beans are good tall things to plant and are edible. Roses should do. Sunflowers are fun. At the front plant strawberries and mint (including nepeta six hills giant) and calendula and salvia hotlips would be fun and edible and flower for ages. In the Autumn you can plant bulbs for the spring.
I am of the opinion that a south facing garden gets the sun. This is probably amateurish.

funnyperson Wed 24-Jun-15 03:49:30

OP did you write this?

Anyway if the area really is shady try this for more ideas

AnathemaPratchett Wed 24-Jun-15 08:41:04

No I didn't write that, but wish I had! smile

Thanks everyone lots of ideas.

No outside tap so I probably am a bit lazy with watering but I think the problem is because the ground is pretty much pure clay - an inch of soil then you hit the grey slimey stuff you could make pots from - it is very very wet when it rains, and very dry when it doesn't.

The rest of the garden is sunny but this bed because it has a 6 foot panel fence immediately south of it, it never ever gets direct sun. Does that make sense?

Lots of garden have roses around here so I suppose they would grow well and the prickles might keep the kids off as well! But I thought roses needed a bit more light.

shovetheholly Wed 24-Jun-15 08:51:08

I feel your pain with the slugs! Most kinds of lobelia, sweet peas and rosemary tend to like sunny, hot conditions - so they won't enjoy a shady spot so much.

Funny hits the nail on the head: is it wet shade or dry shade? The rosebay willowherb and dock are saying 'wet' to me, but would you agree? If so, you're lucky - there are loads of great plants that will do terrifically well.

Alongside the usual suspects (fatsia, ferns, foxgloves), here are some slightly more unusual things I have growing in wet shade:

- Primulas and cowslips - forget the horrible carpet bedding primulas and take a look at the wild varieties and the candelabra and denticulata ones. So much more interesting.
- Persicaria and ligularia both give you a strong vertical in the summer, which is often a great contrast to ferny foliage.
- Geraniums - bit of an obvious one this, but there are some lovely shade-loving varieties. Be careful, though, the genus is huge and some like sun so check the variety you are buying.
- Hylomecon - spring-flowering Japanese poppy. Comes out at roughly the same time as pulmonaria, giving a lovely bright yellow/purple contrast
- Tricyrtis formosana 'Dark Beauty' - aka the toad lily. Extraordinary exotic looking thing.
- Thalictrum delvayi 'Hewitts double' - gorgeous clouds of pink above ferny foliage
- Brunnera 'Jack Frost' - grown largely for its lovely silver foliage, though it has some pretty blue flowers in spring too
- Cornus canadensis - a groundcover dogwood! Lovely bracts of white above semi-evergreen foliage
- Dicentra - ignore the somewhat dated 1970s varieties, you can get an amazing range of delicate whites and pinks
- Hellebores - for winter colour. There are some beautiful, deep-coloured doubles now.

If the soil is really, really wet, then you can grow bog plants! Rodgersia, darmera peltata, rheum are great and unusual plants.

As you can probably tell, I love shade plants grin. I feel like they really don't get enough appreciation, when they are every bit as lovely as anything you can grow in sun.

shovetheholly Wed 24-Jun-15 08:52:20

Oh, and your clay is a boon for these plants. They love it. However, you need to dig in bags and bags of compost (and leaf mould if you can get it) to enrich it.

shovetheholly Wed 24-Jun-15 08:54:15

Oooooops - I missed the part about plants needing to be edible! Definitely take hellebores and persicaria off that list. You might need to research the others...

DoreenLethal Wed 24-Jun-15 09:01:42

What I would do - is to put cardboard down this summer, and make it into a compost heap. So on top of the cardboard, add all the lawn mowings, plant trimmings and prunings, raw food waste [veggies] plus peelings, tea bags/coffee grinds - shredded paper, more cardboard etc etc etc - and dig out any dock that grows through.

The whole lot will rot down over the summer and winter, and suppress the weeds [dig out the dock though], and it will add lots of lovely organic matter to your clay. If you want, at the front - plant some strawberries which will form a lovely permanent front border and which are slower but will still fruit [they are originally a woodland plant].

Then next year, you can get a few bags of seeds of lettuces, pak choi, mizuna, mispoona, radishes, mustard, spring onions - mix them all together in a clean dry jam jar and every few weeks, all year round, you can scatter some seeds over the new bed and it will give you an edible shady bed that your daughter can eat to her heart's delight.

AnathemaPratchett Wed 24-Jun-15 14:53:23

Doreen- brilliant idea. Been thinking about doing a compost heap for ages so might as well use this sorry bit if the garden for it. Might stop my mother commenting on the weeds for a bit as well!

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