Deep shade

Gardeners' World - - Right Plant, Right Place -

This is a sit­u­a­tion that most gar­den­ers strug­gle with. Deep or full shade is usually classed as three hours or less of di­rect sun each day, and nearly all gar­dens have some, cast by trees, bound­aries or build­ings. The first thing I look at is whether the soil is dry or con­tains mois­ture. Is there clay or silt, or is it sandy and dry? This is what in­flu­ences my plant choices. There are lots of ex­cit­ing plant com­bi­na­tions to try, es­pe­cially those with in­ter­est­ing leaf shapes and tex­tures.


These de­light­ful wood­land shade-lovers make great ground cover, with heart-shaped leaves and beau­ti­ful, del­i­cate flow­ers in spring. It’s best to dig in lots of leaf­mould when plant­ing [see page 14 for more on epimedi­ums].

Dry­opteris ferns

Many ferns like shade, but if I had to pick just one type, it would be dry­opteris. The fronds bring beau­ti­ful tex­ture, and many species hold their leaves right through the win­ter.

Hardy gera­ni­ums

These are such ver­sa­tile plants – dif­fer­ent species like dif­fer­ent po­si­tions, but many thrive in full shade, flow­er­ing pro­fusely. Af­ter the first flush of early blooms, cut them back hard and they’ll soon come back with strong lush growth and of­ten a sec­ond flush of flow­ers.

Epimedi­ums Dry­opteris ferns Hardy gera­ni­ums

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