Gardening Magazine

Plants for a Shady Spot

By Plantedd @Plantedd

Choosing plants for a shady spot is always seemingly presented as a problem.  However, after Desert Island Discs was on this morning, I got to thinking about my ‘Desert Island’ garden and I’d find it hard not to plump for a woodland garden.  There’s very little that is more atmospheric than the landscape underneath a canopy, with its different layers of trees and shrubs and perennials and bulbs.

(Incidentally, here is a list of episodes of Desert Island Discs that feature gardeners including Alan Titchmarsh, Monty Don, Geoffrey Smith, Penelope Hobhouse, Rosemary Verey, Graham Thomas and Percy Thrower.)

When we are faced, then, with shade in the garden it makes sense to look to woodland plantings for inspiration.  I think the reason that these are so often effective is because the gardener has a more limited palette of flowers to choose from and, through necessity perhaps, there is more restraint in their plant combinations.  That’s not to say that there’s a shortage of plants that will live in the shadow of a tree.

I did a bit of daydreaming and planted a border in my mind’s eye.  These are the plants that I came up with for dappled shade that doesn’t dry out.  As soon as I get the chance, I’ll be putting these together in real life!

Magnolia laevifolia

Magnolia laevifolia. Photograph: Carl Lewis/Creative Commons

Dryopteris wallichiana

Dryopteris wallichiana. Photograph: Barbara S./Creative Commons

Pulmonaria 'Diana Clare'

Pulmonaria ‘Diana Clare’. Photograph: Madelein Vreeken- Buijs/Creative Commons

Dicentra spectabilis alba

Dicentra spectabilis ‘Alba’. Photograph: Facing North East/Creative Commons

Lilium martagon var. album

Lilium martagon var. album. Photograph: Vincent Dunne/Creative Commons

Athyrium 'Ghost'

Athyrium x ‘Ghost’. Photograph: Safia/Creative Commons

Nectaroscordum siculum

Nectaroscordum siculum. Photograph: edgeplot/Creative Commons

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