Last week I was sunning myself by the pool of a Mallorcan villa, reading my book (Crusaders by Richard T. Kelly since you ask and a cracking good read), requesting/ordering my children to bring me drinks from the fridge. All was well in the world. And then it rained. Two months in England, seemingly without a drop of the stuff, I go to Spain and its suddenly as wet as an episode of Total Wipeout with the hose pipe left on.
Plan A completely ruined, it was time to swing Plan B into action – not listening to a falsetto former rapper now singing soul tunes*, but educating my six year old son on the power of The Force and the dangers of the Dark Side. In other words, getting out the Star Wars DVD box set and playing Lego Star Wars on the Playstation. However, I couldn’t muster the enthusiasm to control the computer generated Lego Luke Skywalkers. I was never one for video games, you see. I just think gardening and gaming are incompatible. I’d be happy to be proved wrong, but I’m yet to find anyone with the patience to prepare a hundred semi hardwood cuttings one day and the pace for a few hours of Grand Theft Auto the next. Its not a light side/dark side moral tension thing, its just the way things are. I’m happy gardening on the dark side, but battling with it on a games console leaves me cold.
You see, a lot of gardening does get done on the dark side ie. in the shade. Similarly, the appreciation of shade and shadow in any garden is an essential ingredient in a garden designer’s toolkit. So I embrace the dark side, not like a mixed up Anakin Skywalker foregoing Natalie Portman’s Queen Amidala (what a fool**), but with a ‘work with what you’ve got’ mentality. If its shady, lets just start thinking North Yorkshire woodland rather than Mallorcan poolside.
With that in mind, I thought I would come up with ten top plants for shade. I don’t normally do this, so make the most of it plant pickers:
Sarcococca confusa – shrub with small, dark green shiny leaves, small white flowers with powerful scent in January and small black berries to follow. Good medium sized structural plant.
Skimmia x confusa ‘Kew Green’ – white/acid green flowers in early spring. Looks good in the border, but also in tubs and window boxes combined with hellebores and white cyclamen.
Hosta fortunei var aureomarginata – large fleshy leaves with creamy white margins make a good display of foliage and look good in combination with ferns.
Asarum europaeum – evergreen heart shaped leaves make a good ground cover plant for damp shady places.
Digitalis purpurea f. albiflora – the white foxglove. Adds a bit of class to any woodland border.
Matteuchia struthiopteris – the ostrich fern. Its native. It produces beautiful fronds. And it’s a great foil for other more showy plants.
Polygonatum x hybridum – Solomon’s Seal. Graceful arching stems, nodding white flowers in spring and loves it damp and shady.
Fatsia japonica – ok, so there is a lot of it about, but not without reason. If you want a large architectural shrub with amazing leaves and fascinating flower which will thrive in all but the driest of shade, its difficult to beat a Fatsia.
Aquilegia canadensis – a columbine, its red flowers appearing like hanging jewels from the shady woodland undergrowth.
Epimedium x rubrum – its common name is Bishop’s Hat – how cool is that? Oh, and it’s a reliable spreading plant for partial shade, its bronze tinted leaves turning reddish brown in Autumn.
* An apology – I know this reference was a little obtuse, but I couldn’t help myself.
** The word ‘fool’ isn’t really strong enough for intergalactic stupidity of this magnitude – its Natalie Portman for goodness sake!
This entry was posted on Tuesday, August 10th, 2010 at 4:01 pm
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