Beth Chatto believes you can transform a shady spot with easy-care planting that includes foliage and flowers for a brighter Spring garden. Illuminate a shady spot under trees with a range of flowers and plants.
Top Ten Spring Shade Lovers
- Honesty purple or white forms are good when in flower but also produce airy white seedheads
- Forget-me-nots are flowering all over my back garden at the moment from self-sown plants.
- Bluebells can be white as well as blue or even pink. They normally grow in shady woodland and will flower without sun. They also spread quite quickly particularly the thuggish Spanish variety. Do not take wild bulbs from there natural habitat.
- Hellebore the Lenten Rose is another shade loving plant that is happy under trees although the flowers tend to hang down and be hard to inspect.
- Tulips can brighten the darkest spot. I plant them in pots so I can move them to where they will have the greatest impact. I can then replace them with other plants later in the year.
- Other bulbs like Iris Reticulata, Crocus Stripped Beauty and Muscari will perform in some shade.
- Surprisingly Hydrangeas like shade and Paeony Sarah Bernhardt will fill an area with pink flower and lush scent.
- For a slow growing shrub try the old stalwart Spotted Laurel. I do quite well with a Bay tree. Although it never flowers in the shade it is 5 feet tall and evergreen.
- Doronicum Lepord’s Bane will flower with 2 feet tall, yellow, daisy like flowers and produces heart shaped leaves that die back by late summer
- Pullmonaria, traditional name Lungwort, has pink flowers that age to blue
Tips for Shady Areas
This Lonicera Baggins Gold performs well in consistent shade. It needs pruning and trimming to keep the tight shape and not become leggy and if too shady it becomes progressively greener loosing the gold colour.
Some bicoloured plants do not like sun and loose one of the colours. I have a bed of Euonymous and similar plants under a shady wall.
Beth Chatto has an extensive list of plants for shady areas for all year round interest
When planting in deep shade under the canopy of evergreens, adding compost to the garden will increase nutrients and the soil’s ability to retain water. Before you begin planting look up to see if there are any branches which could pruned to allow dappled sunlight into the garden.