Gardening for shade


Shade gardening

 

If you find that your garden has limited access to natural light then fear not, there are still many plants available for growing in partial or even fully shaded areas.

 

shady-garden-bench

 

Highly shaded areas need not be a deterrent to getting active in the garden and are in fact increasing becoming more popular as gardeners in many urban areas are finding ways of making the most of every possible little piece of space. Be creative and you will easily find something that can fill almost every little corner of the garden.

 

Balcony in Ang Mo Kio area. Growing flowers and herbs in hanging pots balcony/corridor is very popular in Singapore .
Balcony in Ang Mo Kio area. Growing flowers and herbs in hanging pots in a balcony or corridor is very popular in Singapore.

 

Creating your own border when light is restricted can actually be an easy process and doesn’t differ too much from planning a sunny border.

But first!

Two essential considerations when selecting shade loving plants….

 

  • Good drainage
  • Make sure the soil receives a good level of nutrients

 

During the wetter periods of the year and in particular when little light is present to absorb the extra moisture on the surface, good drainage will help maintain a good growing environment and provide the best chance possible for the roots. Because the sun is restricted then you can help the plants in shaded areas by adding a natural organic substance or fertiliser to the soil to help enrich the soil. This will help replace the nutrients that may be missing and hopefully help avoid the soil from drying out.

 

shadey garden path

 

Creating your own border when light is limited can be an easy process. When choosing plants have a check to see if they will tolerate partial shade or full shade, then let your own preference be the guide. Have a look now at some of our suggested plants and bulbs, all suitable for planting now in preparation for flowering next year.

 


 

Perennials

The range of perennial plants and shrubs available is quite extensive and there is sure to be something for everyone.

 

Hosta

Hosata smaller

Designer Hostas are a popular choice because of the wonderful foliage they offer and can really add a touch of class to the border.

 

Ferns

Mixed ferns

Ferns will prosper beautifully and come in such a variety of colours that they must be worth a try.

 

Tricyrtis

Toad lilies

Tricyrtis (Toad Lilies) can also be used to add an unusual effect with their truly amazing spotted flowers in autumn.

 

Heuchera

Heuchera

The front of a border can benefit from the stunning foliage that Heuchera can bring, particularly since recent developments in breeding have introduced new colourful varieties such as ‘Autumn Leaves’ (bright ruby red foliage) and ‘Plum Royale’ (shiny purple foliage). These low-growing plants will easily fill gaps and spaces in the border that may be left between larger trees and shrubs.

 

Convallaria Bordeaux

4.1.2

If you would like to add little fragrance in spring then we suggest trying the very reliable Convallaria Bordeaux (Giant Lily of the Valley), great for planting in groups where the white flowers show themselves from the middle of spring on wards.

 

Monarda

Monarda

Monarda are a superb choice for fragrance in summer and autumn, where the spiky head flowers are complimented by a wonderful mint aroma.

 

Bergenia Erioca

Bergenia Erioca

A new improved version of the more common Bergenia. The hardiness of Bergenia makes it suitable for gardens all over the country, even in some of the colder parts of northeast Scotland.

 


 

Shrubs

Popular shrubs for a shade-loving border come in all shapes and sizes. Some can be grown as stand-alone items in a border, while all those listed below will work side-by-side with many perennials and shrubs to add a really varied showing.

Big leaf Hydrangea

Hydrangea Magical Revolution Blue

The big leaf varieties will do well in shade. Our pick is Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Magical Revolution Blue,’ which will tolerate even fully shaded areas where almost no natural light gets in. This variety produces large headed blue flowers, which actually turn deep purple as the flowers mature.

 

Juniper Sky Rocket

Juniper Rocket Juniperus

A marvellous narrow conifer tree that can grow up to 3m, and because of its slender column shape it will not restrict light for other areas of the garden.

 

Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia Creeper)

Parthenocissus quinquefolia - Virginia Creeper growng with Hedera - Ivy on house wall

If you have a south-facing or a wall where light is obstructed then why not try growing a climber up the wall, with Virginia Creeper the ideal candidate because of its remarkable leaf colourings, especially in autumn.

 

Vinca major ‘Variegata’

Vinca Major Variegata

A great variegated leafed evergreen shrub that will grow in almost any garden soil and location. Wonderful for growing underneath trees as well, where the blue flowers appearing in spring can last up until autumn.

 

Pachysandra terminalis

Pachysandra terminalis

For year around appeal you could also try the increasingly popular Pachysandra terminalis, which will save hours of intensive garden labour by suppressing weeds and acting as a ground cover shrub. The vivid green, succulent foliage is a real sight when planted in rows and can act as a low growing path boundary or screen.

 


 

Bulbs

A good way to make the most of shaded areas under trees and large shrubs is the introduction of naturalising bulbs, which left undisturbed over time will often multiply to create a beautiful woodland effect.

 

English grown Daffodils and Narcissi bulbs

Narcissi

Many varieties are suitable to grow is shaded areas and our favourites to give a try are ‘Cheerfulness’ (Showy double white variety), ‘St. Patrick’s Day’ (Lemon yellow blooms) and the original native UK Daffodil ‘Obvallaris’, fondly known as the Tenby Daffodil. (Illustrated in order mentioned from left to right).

 

Crocus and Miscellaneous bulbs

misc bulbs

Great for planting en masse and leaving to multiply in highly shaded areas. The dwarf nature of these perennial bulbs make they great for adding a little bit of colour where needed. For some spring colour try planting Crocus ‘Prince Claus’ (colourful blend of white and blue) or the wonderful yellow Crocus ‘Fuscotinctus’. Iris reticulata ‘Cantab’ will offer an enchanting pale blue display or the popular Muscari armeniacum will create a sea of lavender blue/purple.

 

Bluebells

1000547_b

The perfect flower to round up our list. Coming across bluebells in the wild is a real treat and many people like to grow their own. They love being plantedunder trees and are a real delight in dappled shade. We also supply these ‘in the green’ for easy transplantation and reliable results. You will find them here but they will only be available when in season.

 


 

 

Use your garden to help attract some of the wonderful wildlife of Britain.

butterfly on violet scabiosa
Wild butterfly on a violet scabiosa

By allocating just a little bit of time and space to your garden this Autumn, you can easily attract various wildlife to your garden all year around. For many people wildlife is a welcomed addition to the garden providing extra character and also the knowledge that they are doing their bit to help with British conservation.

Online now you will find many varieties of plants and shrubs which will help you along the way, by both attracting and providing food/shelter for various forms of wildlife. Composting and letting a few patches of your garden grow a little wild will help to encourage visitors (and what gardener needs to be told the virtues of compost!).

If you have the space grow trees and big shrubs. By devoting even the smallest part of your garden to attracting wildlife you can turn it into a paradise for beneficial birds, mammals and insects.

bird hanging under peanut birdfeeder (goldfinch)

Birds are attracted to areas where they find both food and shelter. A good way of doing so in the autumn/winter is by planting up shrubs and trees which produce berries, such as Ilex (Holly), Pyracantha or Gaultheria. Not only will they produce valuable food but they also produce some much needed ornamental value in the Winter months. A bird table is also a fantastic way of enticing birds into a specific area of the garden. Ornamental grasses are also a popular way of making the garden appealing to seed eating birds.

Butterflies will visit most gardens, especially if they find plants in sunny or sheltered locations. The secret here is to make available nectar rich, fragrant flowers which are colourful and from which they feed.

Perennail strip for Blog pollinatoors
Lavender, Buddleia, Syringa, Forsythia and Echinacea are just a few fantastic garden favourites for attracting butterflies and all look great in the garden!

SquirrelSquirrels of course are fascinating wildlife to watch as they scurry around during the day. They feed off acorns, buds, nuts, berries and seeds. They will initially appear scared and frightened but with regular feeding they will soon feel at home in your garden. They are easily found around

Insects need water too! You can create your own insect water bowl – make sure you use stones or glass beads to prevent the insects drowning!
Insects need water too! You can create your own insect water bowl – make sure you use stones or glass beads to prevent the insects drowning!

woodland areas, large trees, beech tress and are especially attracted to your bird feeders, although take caution as they can damage them over time.

Provide water and shelter for Toads! These are great for keeping unwanted pests at bay and if you have a pond or one nearby its likely you already have Frogs and Toads living nearby. (If you have a dog remember Toads will release skin secretions which are toxic to dogs.

A pile of old logs or bricks, some overgrown grass or turned over empty pots can all help with providing shelter for animals – Hedgehogs will happily take advantage of your hospitality and thank you by eating pesky slugs and snails – an ideal natural defender of you Hosta plants!


 

Some simple ways to create an eco-friendly garden

With economic difficulties over the past few years and with an increased attention given to environmental issues (both domestically and around the world) now is a great time to take stock and evaluate exactly how environmentally friendly (eco-friendly) our gardens actually are.

Eco
Eco Friendly Gardening is all the rage

We may never reach the scales of the popular 70’s BBC show ‘The Good Life’ but we can all do a little here and there to help. Regardless of whether your garden has an aesthetic focus (ornamental only) or a productive (food producing) focus there are many small, simple to implement and relatively low cost techniques which can easily be introduce to improve the overall friendliness of the garden.

Reduce, Reuse and Recycle – The overall goal should be to create a wonderful garden; somewhere you can easily relax and enjoy the rewards of all your hard work. Simultaneously this should be done with one eye on the environment! Eco-gardening is a way of making the garden more self-sustainable by reducing the energy /water the garden uses up, improving air circulation, promoting recycling, attracting wildlife and in essence being less wasteful.

Saving on water is a great way to get started – One of the best ways to get start is to look at ways in which you can reduce the amount of water used in the garden around the year. By using water from the mains less and less you will help significantly to reduce the overall national water use rate, but on a domestic level you should see the yearly household water bill come down (which can be no bad thing). Some key ways to reduce water used are as follows :

  • Water plants early in the morning or late at night. Watering during hot periods (such as lunchtime and early afternoon) when the sun is at its strongest will waste water due to evaporation and will be less beneficial to the plants themselves.
  • Watering
    Watering at the right times can reduce water waste

    Install a water butt and re-use rainwater. Why not, it’s free and will reduce your water bills? Water butts can be an efficient and cost effective way to collect and reuse natural rainwater. The beauty of living in a country like Britain is that we get plenty of rainfall throughout the year. The thought that we do not collect and reuse this, instead being depending on water from the tap can be a little hard to understand at times. Some very large water butts can store over 24,000 litres of water (although there are plenty to choose from to suit all garden sizes) and can easily be transferred to the water can for use around the garden.

  • Introduce drought-resistant plants. There are many great drought resistant plants which can be introduced to the garden and will thus reduce the dependence on manual watering during dry periods. For more advice on drought resistant plant visit the RHS website for their comprehensive list of recommended plants.

 

 

 

Improve air circulation and quality

  • Planting trees in the garden. To improve the purity of air you could try planting some larger trees such as conifers, Betula, Beech trees and Magnolia. Not only will they look beautiful through the year they will help improve the circulation and quality of air. This is even more important in urban areas where the actual air is more likely to become polluted because of increased exposure to chemicals and gasses.The role of trees is not one to underestimate. They produce the oxygen we need to survive and also help to remove particles from the air that could potentially be harmful. They also act as protection to other plants, provide a cooling shade in the summer and also can help reduce noise for your garden.
  • tRANQUIL
    Create a space for peace and tranquility

    Create a water feature or pond. You could also look at introducing a water feature into the garden area to improve purity of air. A steady stream and flow of water, not only adds a sense of tranquillity and beauty but also helps to remove harmful pollutants from the air. This along with some well positioned trees will help create an environment of lovely fresh air and help the plants, soil and your own health as well.

Reduce Electricity used in the garden. By reducing the overall amount of electricity the garden uses your bills will come down and you will be using less national resources. This can only be a good thing, and combined with the work done by wind farms and solar panels we should see an overall reduction in usage from the national grid.

  • Use solar garden lighting – Instead of using large outdoor lighting you could try to introduce some solar garden lights. They come in many shapes, sizes and budgets and can easily be installed. They will store energy from the natural light during the day and release this when needed at night time. They have become much more reliable in the past ten years as an alternative and are certainly an area to explore.

Choose alternatives to chemicals/pesticides – Where allowable we suggest using organic pesticides and products in and around the garden. Choose the right product for the job and make sure it will not have any detrimental effect on other insects around the garden. You could try using some alternatives to pesticides such as crushed egg shells or grounded coffee beans to deter slugs and snails or by planting marigolds in your flowerbeds (they are known to deter insects and pests).

Strong smelling perennials such as Lavender and Rosemary can also have the effect of keeping pests away from you borders so introducing a number of these will help avoid using chemicals. Many people choose to actually introduce certain insects into the garden as a way of scaring off those pests that will do damage to plants. Lady bugs are great at eating aphids and will help preserve your plants.

Recycling will help create an organic compost or mulch You can create your own organic compost by recycling gardening waste, food waste and fall leaves. By recycling this waste we will be helping to keep it out of the ever increasing landfills and also will in turn create a moisture retentive and rich compost or mulch that can used around the garden. The plants will benefit hugely from this natural and organic addition to the soil and also will save you buying manure or compost the following year.

Animals
Attracting and caring for Wildlife is key

The choice of goods to use in the compost bin or heap is almost endless and getting the balance right may take a number of attempts. Luckily the internet can be your friend and will the popularity growing hugely in this area, there are many good gardening forums and websites to offer advice. Some of the most popular, everyday items from the household to find their way onto the compost heap include raw vegetables, crushed egg shells, fruit peelings, newspapers, cardboard and even teabags. Gardening waste such as fallen leaves, wood cuttings, grass cuttings, old bedding plants and plant foliage are also used regularly.

Make the garden wildlife friendly – A key feature to creating a garden that is in touch with nature is to make sure that it is attractive to wildlife. By allocating just a little bit of time and space to your garden, you can easily attract various wildlife to your garden all year around. For many people wildlife is a welcomed addition to the garden providing extra character and also the knowledge that they are doing their bit to help with British conservation.

Make sure you have an area to enjoy and relax – Make sure that you allow an area for enjoyment. Creating a garden full of colour and fresh fruit/vegetables is great and highly rewarding, but one key aspect to making sure your love for gardening lasts a lifetime is getting out and enjoying the garden. Have an area where you and your family/friends can sit around and enjoy the fresh air and beauty you have worked so hard to create.

Gardening should be enjoyable and relaxing

Many people love the summer barbeque as it allows people to gather together outdoors and enjoy their surroundings, with some good food. These great moments are vital to enjoying the garden and the summertime. Get out there and enjoy it! Getting in touch with your own little piece of the environment is critical to becoming an environmental gardener.

Grow your own fruit, vegetables and herbs – Growing your own fruit, vegetables and herbs is a fun, rewarding and can be a great step towards being less dependent on supermarkets. Even in gardens when space is at a premium you can easily grow strawberries, raspberries and blueberries in pots or containers.

If you have the space available why not allocate a patch or raised bed towards growing some potatoes, carrots, asparagus, beans or whatever vegetables take your fancy. You could also look at planting some fruit trees which not only produce great tasting fruit but will add ornamental blossom on spring.