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Thriving in the shade

The arrival of the Spring Equinox and the clocks going forward is a sure sign the coming growing season is fast approaching. This provides me with an opportune moment to answer some of the questions I have received. I shall start this month with plants that thrive in the shade.

Most gardens have a shaded area and it can look bare and dismal. Firstly, you need to identify what level of shade we are talking about. Is it the sort found at the base of a north facing wall? Or the more wide spread dappled shade created under the canopy of a tree? The soil can often be very dry or sandy which means it dries out quickly in summer and lacks nutrients. But shade doesn’t have to mean a no go area for plants. In fact you can create an interesting display with just a few of these suggested plants.

Hostas grow well in a range of locations including both dry and damp shade and also Hellebores with their large saucer- shaped flowers that flowered in February this year and provided a very early source of sustenance for the bees. Foxgloves with their upward –facing flowers work very well in dappled shade whilst Bergenia also known as elephant’s ears, thrives in deep shade and tolerates cold winds. The cup shaped flowers bloom in the spring and leaves develop a maroon tint in the winter.

Viburnum is one of my favourite shrubs and seems to revel in the shade with the tiny star shaped flowers appearing from late winter to spring complete with a delicate perfume. One plant that never fails to please is the Fuchsia as it is ideal for the sheltered areas that are moist but well drained – and keep flowering right through to September. Heucheras on the other hand tolerate both dry and moist soils and their gently ruffled edged leaves provide colour from spring to autumn.

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