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].
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.
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