Q Can you help me add colour to my shady border?
THIS SHADY BORDER is a bit on the skinny side, in my view. Whenever a border is set to run alongside a fence, it’s bound to be cast in some of its shade during the day. Making the border deeper allows plants at the front to enjoy a bit more sunshine, or part shade, so your planting choices can be a bit more varied. So, first off, I’d recommend that owner Dave Hamlett digs it out to almost double its current width by sacrificing some of his lawn. You can see where the grass looks a bit patchy; why not take it out as far as that? The grass is suffering because the shrubs (osmanthus, fuchsia, berberis and philadelphus) are shading it and their roots extend under the lawn and are competing with the grass for moisture and nutrients. Dave points out that the shrubs help to create a bit of privacy, so we’d recommend he keeps them, but raises their leafy canopy by tidying up (removing with secateurs/loppers) any straggly or crossing lower branches to give the shrubs a more decisive silhouette. Underneath these more shapely shrubs, Dave can bring in some shade-loving leafy perennials, such as heuchera, tiarella, brunnera and pulmonaria. His wallflowers (left of pic) may bloom, but they’ll only offer a temporary solution. The foxgloves and ferns will be more in keeping with the woodlandy theme, adding valuable height and in the case of the foxgloves, flowers too. Has one of your borders lost its direction? Write to us at the address on p103