The Magic of the Shade Border – Part 1

More often than not, the shade area in the garden can be put on the long finger and is the last area to get an overhaul, but it doesn’t matter when it’s done as long as you give it a go, because there is nothing as nice as sitting in the shade and admiring beautiful plants.

Ferns, Image source: Flickr

Shade loving plants often get the reputation of being boring or just not interesting, but nothing could be further from the truth.  Having an area/border where these beautiful plants can shine can really be breath taking.  The secret to achieving this is contrast, contrast in leaf shape, texture and colour, and a mix of evergreen and deciduous plants and different plant heights.  Plants like: Ferns, Astilbe, Hellebores, Brunnera, Hostas , Pulmonaria, Polygonatum (Solonom’s Seal) to name a few, all tick the boxes for a wonderful shade area.

Pulmonaria, Image soure: Flickr
Pulmonaria, Image soure: Flickr

One thing to consider is where your shade area is located or what is giving the shade, is it a wall, the gable end of the house or shed or a mature evergreen or deciduous tree.  Get to know the area by having a look at what sunshine it gets throughout the year and bear in mind that winter sun will be lower in the sky than summer sun and therefore not as hot.  Shade increases under a deciduous tree as it comes into leaf and reduces as the tree loses its leaves, making and ideal location for the clever late winter and early spring flowering plants that take advantage of this e.g. Hellebores, Snowdrops and Bluebells.  Evergreen trees should give the same amount of shade throughout the year; however, because the winter sun is lower in the sky, they could very well get a bit more sun at this time of year.

Snowdrops and Bluebells are perfect for planting in the shade of a deciduous tree. Image source: Flickr

It doesn’t matter whether you have a majestic tree to under plant or an area that just needs to be brightened up, the effect will be just as wonderful.  So, don’t be afraid to experiment with different combinations of plants and you will create something magical.