Perk up a shady corner with an exciting combination of plants – choose contrasting leaf shapes, interesting foliage colour, and pretty seasonal flowers.
Shade-loving shrubs and perennials can be used to add colour and interest to your garden for long periods of the year. Many shade-tolerant plants have beautiful leaves in interesting shapes, as well as eye-catching flowers.
Spring-flowering plants such as hellebores appear just as winter begins to ease, and the large and flamboyant blooms of hydrangeas come into their own in September, after many other summer flowers have faded. Add a beautiful white stemmed birch tree for a ghostly winter shimmer, and you’ll have something to admire all year round.
To get started, make your border as wide as you can – ours is roughly 1.2m from front to back – so that you can plant in ‘layers’ or bold ‘blocks’. Position contrasting leaf shapes and colours next to each other for added impact, and customise the effect by swapping plants from our suggested border plan with those of a similar shape and height.
How to Improve a Shady Border
- Mulch over the soil surface, with farmyard manure or landscape bark, to help conserve moisture and reduce weeds.
- Remove the old leaves of hellebores before the flowers appear so you can see the blooms at their best.
- Plant spring-flowering bulbs between shrubs and perennials – daffodils and dwarf iris work well.
- Feed plant roots with a general-purpose fertiliser, such as bone meal, in early spring.