The Superb Shady Border Collection

An article by our feature writer Christine Walkden

One of the most frequent questions I am asked, when sitting on a ‘gardener’s question time’ panel, is what plants can I grow in a shady border?  Therefore, I am absolutely delighted that we have decided to make life so much easier for you by putting together a collection that will bring interest to your garden for a long period of time.

The important thing, however, when establishing plants in shade is to ensure that the plants establish well during the first season.  To encourage this make sure you incorporate plenty of compost or organic matter into the planting hole and water the plants in well. Using a water absorbing gel in the planting hole will also help considerably.

If the summer and autumn are dry make sure you water the plants at least once a week.  This will ensure that the roots grow into the surrounding soil and will then be able to exploit the water and nutrients available the following season. If you just plant them and leave them, more often than not the plants will just die. They need regular water to ensure they make good root growth and settle into their new homes as soon as possible. If you do this, the following plants will give you years of pleasure.

For the winter period try Bergenia ‘Pink Dragonfly. This is a great plant, flowering during April to June.  It produces luscious bright pink flowers above bright, glossy green, leathery foliage which turns brilliant purple during the winter.  This is a plant that both Beth Chatto and Christopher Lloyd loved for both its leaves and flowers. It is a bold plant making a statement in any garden.

Over the past few years we have seen a great interest in the use of plants that not only produce flowers but also have interesting foliage. This combination ensures that the plant creates interest for a longer period of the year. The Heucherellas are great plants when grown in shade.  We are offering you a variety called ‘Stoplight’. This plant produces striking, large, vibrant yellow leaves with an attractive red centre and airy white flowers in the spring. It grows to about 20cm tall and between 30 to 40 cm wide. When in flower in April through to June you cannot fail to miss it.

Tiarella ‘Pink Skyrocket’ grows up to 20cm tall and is great at a base of a shady border or planted through a shrub border. Its masses of shrimp-pink flowers are held above marvellously cut, marked foliage which spreads to 40cm.

This is a plant that will look great from May through to August and combines well with summer bedding when grown in the shade.

I just love Hostas but have, in the past, really got fed up with slugs damaging the plants. But, over the years, I have come to realise that the larger leaved varieties, with tough foliage, are much more slug resistant than varieties with smaller leaves. One plant I am particularly successful with is the fantastic Hosta ‘Sieboldiana Elegans’, What a beautiful plant this is producing large, glossy, deeply veined, crinkled bluish leaves with strong flower stems which are great for use in flower arrangements or as a cut flower. This is a large plant that looks great either in the border or even planted in a container where it makes a very bold statement.  Growing up to 80cm tall and spreading to 70cm it creates a large effect from the spring right through to the frosts. Flowers will be produced from June until September.

Growing in my very dry, shady border are numerous Pulmonaria. We are offering the variety ‘Opal’ with its fresh green, neatly spotted leaves and clusters of pale-blue flowers produced in March to June combining so well with spring flowering plants. Growing about 30cm tall and spreading to about 40cm wide see what a lovely combination this plant makes with the smaller daffodils growing through it.

 

Scented Viola Miracle

I have always been a great fan of Violas for their scent and lovely foliage. For the first time we are offering you a great collection of Viola odorata called Miracles.

These are compact, hardy growing plants which will scent your borders from the late winter through until April.

I not only grow violas in the shady border but have them in containers and even in hanging baskets by my kitchen door so that I fully appreciate their scent during the flowering period. We are offering you Viola odorata Miracle Brides White, Classic Pink, Vanilla and Intense Blue.  Give them all a go and enjoy the scent on a warm day transporting yourself back to the shady leafy lanes of your childhood.


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