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Shady characters - a permanent home for shade garden suggestions!

(303 Posts)
shovetheholly Wed 05-Aug-15 07:42:15

Because we get the question about what will grow in the shade so often, posts about it sometimes don't get many answers. So I thought I'd make a permanent thread that we can point people to when this comes up. I know some of you have written the same thing 10 or 20 times before, so hopefully this will save the repetition!

I'm hoping we can post some pictures of shade plants here so that people can see what they look like. A lot of them aren't all that familiar. Plus, I love pictures!! grin

shovetheholly Wed 05-Aug-15 07:43:20

Some types of Japanese anemone are very keen on shade. I just bought one called 'dancing swan' which is white flowered with delightful purple backs. It is lovely and I am very pleased with it!! Here's a picture:

shovetheholly Wed 05-Aug-15 07:44:27

Another plant that is becoming very fashionable and is in flower now is thalictrum. There are many varieties with wonderful maidenhair like foliage and sprays of delicate flowers in white, pink or purple (depending on the variety). They truly dance in a shady corner.

shovetheholly Wed 05-Aug-15 07:46:16

Rodgersia is a lovely plant grown for its gorgeous big leaves, but it does have sprays of light-coloured flowers. Needs a lot of moisture, so not good for dry shade.

Pointlessfan Wed 05-Aug-15 07:46:24

Thank you - this is exactly what I need and I'll be watching with interest!

shovetheholly Wed 05-Aug-15 07:48:31

Another gorgeous big-leaved plant is darmera peltata - the umbrella plant. Will impart a jungly feel to any garden! Again, this is a bog lover, so it likes wet soil. Does flower (in pink) and leaves go a lovely pinky red in autumn.

Callmegeoff Wed 05-Aug-15 07:49:53

What a lovely plant. I'm off to the garden centre this morning to try and find one! My shady area is looking a bit sad, nibbled Hostas, gone over Foxgloves, browning Aquilegias and weeds!

shovetheholly Wed 05-Aug-15 07:52:11

Persicaria will do well in dappled shade too! There are so many lovely varieties of this, it's hard to choose a picture. Some are quite large (persicaria amplexicaulis, which comes in a bright barbie bink), some are grown for foliage (google image persicaria microcephala 'Red Dragon') others for flower - the picture below is persicaria bistorta 'superbum' (yes really), with it's drumsticks of pink.

shovetheholly Wed 05-Aug-15 07:53:19

geoff - I love it! Have you seen the movie My Neighbour Totoro? I think it might be a darmera leaf (or similar) that Totoro uses as an umbrella in the rain!! One of my favourite films - the attention to botanical detail in the animation is breathtaking.

shovetheholly Wed 05-Aug-15 07:57:33

I'm running out of my daily quota of pictures, so I think this is the last one I'm allowed for today... and I'm going RHUBARB!

The edible variety will grow in partial shade and wet soil (in my experience in deep shade it tends to suffer a little bit when picked, but this might just be me being greedy!!). However, you can also get ornamental varieties. These can vary quite a bit in leaf shape from something that resembles the edible rhubarb to a more divided leaf. Again, they're big-leaf plants and again they have quite exotic looking flowers, some varieties more delicate than others! Picture below is rheum palmatum.

shovetheholly Wed 05-Aug-15 08:02:02

Others... please, please feel free to post your own recommendations. I'm enthusiastic about shade but very, very far from expert about this stuff and would love to hear ideas from other people!

I've also realised that I haven't given much info about growing conditions - as far as I understand - and please correct me if I'm wrong- all of the above like damp soil. At least, they all grow very happily in my damp, north-facing, heavy clay garden in Sheffield. Rodgersia, darmera and rheum like it on the wetter end of the spectrum - if you have drier soil, check the growing conditions for the variety.

If a plant likes dry shade (oh rare and wonderful thing!), I'll try to state that quite explicitly.

Callmegeoff Wed 05-Aug-15 08:02:34

Xpost It's the Japanese anemone I'm after.

Your subsequent photos are amazing too, I doubt my nursery would have the Darmera, I haven't seen the film but will look out for it. Are these photos from your garden shove ?

shovetheholly Wed 05-Aug-15 08:08:42

Noooo, sadly not my garden - I'm pulling them off google images! They are mostly from grand estates and places like Wisley.

I will post some from the garden once I am able to post more images. It is a little more, uh, modest than Wisley!! grin

The anemone is lovely! I can't tell you how delighted I am with it. The nursery crossed their heart and hoped to die that it would flower from July to October too.

There are a whole bunch of 'swan' anemones - they were discovered by Elizabeth MacGregor, when an unusual hybrid plant just shone out amongst a bunch of seedlings. 'Wild Swan' was Chelsea plant of the year a few years back. I don't know how widespread these are in garden centres etc. - I think they are becoming more available now than they were a while back.

ThoseAwfulCurtains Wed 05-Aug-15 08:16:01

I've found that it's important to get the soil in shaded beds into the best possible condition before planting. It makes all the difference in shade.
Astilbe tolerate dry shade in my garden. Ivy is great for ground cover, especially with silvery variegated leaves. Ferns - some like damp, some like shade. Geranium phaeum and some campanula do well.

ThoseAwfulCurtains Wed 05-Aug-15 08:22:11

Hydrangea are tough and having a "monent". Lots of summer colour and good for cutting for the house. Burncoose nursery has a good selection. Darmera peltata is a bit thuggish after a few years so be prepared to have to hack it back. Ditto 'superbum". Aquilegia do well for me. My thalictrum are much earlier than your post suggests. Early June in my garden and all gone by the second week in July.

shovetheholly Wed 05-Aug-15 09:12:10

awfulcurtains Can you remember which variety you have? I know that Thalictrum aquilegiifolium tends to come out a bit earlier - June/July, but the delavayi 'Hewitt's Double' that I have flowers late July/August/September. I think this means I definitely need to buy an aquilegiifolium variety, to extend the season!

They had a lot of thalictrums (pl?) at Tatton Park, varying from very delicate sprays of tiny flowers to larger blossoms. All lovely, all different.

ThoseAwfulCurtains Wed 05-Aug-15 09:48:17

I have both in the same bed and they flower at the same time. I'm not sure whether my delaveyi is the same variety as yours though. I lost the label years ago. The aquilegifolium is from seed. I don't like it as much but some came up white and they're pretty.

Bostonpj Wed 05-Aug-15 10:00:46

Can anyone suggest a climber for a very small north facing front garden, loose gravel chipping but enclosed by iron railings. Something I can put in a large pot? Thanks very much flowers

ThoseAwfulCurtains Wed 05-Aug-15 10:07:24

Lamium orvala has done well too - even better this year after I'd moved it to a bed in deeper shade.
Geranium x oxonianum grows in all but the the deepest shade here too. I was given a donker and I don't know the exact variety but looking at Google, it's more 'Claridge Druce' than 'Wargrave Pink'
I've had no luck at all with heuchera or tiarella though sad

ThoseAwfulCurtains Wed 05-Aug-15 10:12:29

In 2 houses I've grown a passionflower on a North facing wall. They're a bit rampant, though, and I've never tried them in a pot. I've had flowers but no fruit.

You could train it all through the railings to make a 'fedge'. Or a variegated ivy - slower but pretty and tough so you can forget to water it smile. Try a cream or silver variegation if yellow doesn't appeal (it's yuck IMO)

Callmegeoff Wed 05-Aug-15 13:18:53

Thanks for this thread, I'm back from the garden centre having purchased a Japanese anemone honorine jobert which was £8.00. They didn't have the swan one although I've just noticed Sarah Raven does.

My Passion flower is romping away, most of the flowers are on the north side where I can't see them !

plipplops Wed 05-Aug-15 13:55:39

I'm trying to help my sister out who has a small garden that used to be a gravelly car park so very crappy soil, with a masseuse oak tree that takes all the light and moisture. I've told her she needs to mulch mulch mulch, she says she does but I think she means 1cm of compost once a year whereas I mean rather more than that?! Tempted to go round when she's out and chuck a load down...

funnyperson Wed 05-Aug-15 14:54:45

Good idea, perhaps link to other shade threads?

ThoseAwfulCurtains Wed 05-Aug-15 16:45:55

Plip under one of my trees, I dug the soil out as far as possible, laid weed suppressing water permeable membrane and got DH to build a little dry stone wall with the stones from the crazy paving we'd dug up. It's probably only 6 to 8 inches high but it was enough to give small plants a root run
I filled the bed with a good soil and compost/manure mix and it worked really well. I couldn't have planted in the bone hard, rooty ground that was there before.

plipplops Wed 05-Aug-15 17:29:19

Just reread my post, massive oak tree not masseuse?!?!? ThoseAwfulCreatures that would be a great idea, we were talking about how it needs loads of soil improvement the other day well I was talking at her about it and she said "you're talking about it like I don't ever do that", so I just think she doesn't grasp how shit her soil is and how she's going to struggle growing anything there unless she gives it some serious help. There's a nice little hydrangea, a lilac, some heucheras (no idea how to spell!) and some aquilegia but that's it, then lots of bare soil. It winds me up as she really wants it to look better and grow more but I can't convince her! I might just say I'll fix it, charge her for the materials and go and buy a couple tons of topsoil from somewhere...

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