Shady char­ac­ters

Dis­cover the beau­ties lurk­ing in the shad­ows, writes Tony Tony Fawcett Fawcett

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - Home - - GARDENING -

t’s a ques­tion that plagues most gar­den­ers at some stage: What can grow in the shade? While many plants per­form mag­nif­i­cently in sun, it’s not so easy to find beauty flour­ish­ing in the shad­ows.

Un­for­tu­nately, most gar­dens have their share of shade. Over­hang­ing trees, fences or other struc­tures can be cul­prits, while side pas­sages, be­tween house and fence, are no­to­ri­ous for shade.

While knock­ing down a tree might be a so­lu­tion, it’s not al­ways de­sir­able — and some struc­tures sim­ply can­not be moved.

But don’t de­spair. Even the dark­est, gloomi­est cor­ners can be coaxed into ver­dant life. You just need to choose the right shady char­ac­ters for the job.

There are ba­si­cally two types of shady ar­eas: moist shade, where the soil is per­pet­u­ally damp; and dry shade, in places such as un­der an old eu­ca­lypt whose roots are suck­ing the ground dry.

Be­fore do­ing any­thing, de­ter­mine what kind of shade you’re deal­ing with — not all shade-lov­ing plants will thrive in the same spot. You also need to know whether your shady zone is al­ways shady as many plants, such as some camel­lias, aza­leas and rhodo­den­drons, can cope if they re­ceive even a lit­tle dap­pled light.

Of­ten, the best so­lu­tion is to look to na­ture. Think of a fern glen in the bush, all lush and green. If you have a sim­i­lar spot, ferns are a log­i­cal choice.

If yours is dry shade, it’s a bit trick­ier. Some plants, such as clivias, cope in dry con­di­tions. Or, you could put in a wa­ter­ing sys­tem — but they’re not al­ways ideal in these drought-prone times. Pot plants un­der thirsty trees are an­other op­tion, as long as you wa­ter and feed pot­ted plants reg­u­larly.

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