As summer approaches and last year’s bustling pub garden springs to mind, you may be considering sprucing yours up with some bright summer plants, striking purple wallflowers or Mediterranean lemon trees - for that authentic Sicilian touch! However, if your patch is plagued by shade, you’ll need to pick plants carefully, sourcing ones that will thrive in such environments. There’s nothing more frustrating than a wilting garden come July, after a considerable planting effort and just as your focus turns to the summer rush.
There are an abundance of plants, which flourish in shade and they don’t have to be dark, gloomy shrubbery. Use green and silver foliage to break up colour and select standout pastels shades; such as pale yellow, lavender, cream and pale pink to brighten up dappled, sheltered spaces.
Starting with colour for shady spaces:
1. Foxgloves are an essential component of any shaded woodland planting scheme. The tall flower spikes bring height and structure, and are especially loved by bumblebees. Go for the simple, but charming Common Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea).
2. Primroses are a familiar sight in spring and the beginning of summer, and thrive in areas of damp shade. They are also a source of nectar and pollen for pollinators, which make them particularly environmentally friendly. Pick the easy-to-maintain Primula vulgaris in a pale yellow hue.
3. Heucheras have eye-catching foliage and offer year-round interest at the front of borders. Choose from the huge range of leaf shapes, colours and patterns, and plant in groups for impact. Partial shade is best, where they’ll bloom from June through to August.
As for foliage to break up the colour:
1. Ferns are renowned for their ability to grow in inhospitable spots, many of these plants are evergreen, and there's a huge range of shapes and sizes; from shiny-leaved asplenium to tough polystichum and the elegant, moisture-loving Osmunda regalis.
2. Euonymus fortunei ‘Silver Queen’ can be grown in partial shade and is edged with white and pale pink. It makes a good specimen shrub and can be clipped into a hedge; it can also be trained up a fence, so is fairly versatile, dependent on where you want coverage.
3. Hakonechloa Cacra is vibrant deciduous plant that thrives in damp shade and has mounds of cascading leaves. Variegated and golden forms are the most eye-catching and will have the brightest colour in partial shade. They are also good in pots.