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What to plant under tree cover/partial cover in autumn

Hello everyone  I've laid some turf but there is quite a bit of space in the border at the back as you can see from the photo. 

I'd like to fill that space with life rather than more lawn. My preference is for anything wildlife encouraging. 

There are some hawthorns and that wall is east facing so the plants will need to thrive in quite shady conditions. Could anyone throw some recommendations my way? I'd be happy with bushy perennials that can grow over time but am open to ideas 

Also, what about some kind of tree in the top right where there is nothing currently? 
Thanks in advance  


  • Depends on shady dry or wet and soil type. Under mine I have hostas, hardy geraniums,  crocosmia, ferns and even a small twisted hazel. Anything white will glow in the shade. All the above are loved by the birds, frogs and toads which with visiting hedgehogs keeps the slugs and snails down in the area. Hope this starts you with ideas.😁
  • For small wildlife tree you could try a hawthorn,an elderberry either native or one of the coloured varieties, a rowan or even a crab apple. 
    Shade plants Hardy geraniums especially  phaeum ones,ferns,agua, heucheuras, trillium, cyclamen  hederifolium etc
  • What a lovely backdrop you have there Paul  :)
    As above: a lot will depend on the soil type you have and the water retentiveness of it.
    In my woodland border, I have different ferns (including painted lady fern) for interesting leaf textures.
    Definitely yes to phaeum geraniums, as well as some white anemones (they give height too).
    Get some bulbs in: snowdrops, crocus, mini iris, narcissus. Lots to choose from, depending on your favourite colours. Stick in some cyclamen too (coum and hederifolium) for interest in spring and in autumn.
    Totally agree with purpleallim, whites are great to brighten shady areas under trees, but you seem to have a lovely, open aspect to your garden, so I imagine there will be quite a bit of sun reaching those area under the trees.
    I'd plant some snakes head fritillary bulbs too - they are gorgeous little plants that self seed and add a bit of height too
    and are naturally meadow plants that like partial shade.
    Some lower growing bushes to underplant the back of the borders would be nice too - sarcococca confusa will grow in dense shade, but also likes some sun, so it;s perfect for north and east. Tiny white flowers in deepest winter give way to black berries. The flower scent is so strong that you may like to plant it near a walkway or door, to appreciate the scent.
    Daphnes come in smaller forms too and can give you some heavenly winter scents.
    Many like shade and grow under trees in forests.
    Camellias? They grow fairly slowly and give a wonderful display - white versions are superb to brighten a darker corner. You can create a more ericaceous area for them somewhere in your border too.

    I can't work out what exposure that far right corner you mention is, but I;'m a huge fan of dwarf acers and the all year interest they give. Maybe one of them for that corner?

  • Brilliant thanks guys, really helpful. 

    FYI the soil is heavy clay. Nearer the grass is moist but mainly dry as the hawthorns capture most of the rainfall. 

    The soil in the top right is particularly stoney and poor, so migjt need some work before planting. 
  • My soil is heavy clay too under my trees, so maybe hard to dig but can be planted in ok. Lots of ideas, let us know how you get on.😁
  • UpNorthUpNorth Posts: 376
    Hostas definitely with that moist clay soil.   a large one and some more modest ones together.    Ferns too.

  • Don't forget to move your bird feeding station if you are planting cover for cats.  :)
  • ZeroZero1ZeroZero1 Posts: 577
    edited September 2018
    For the tree have you considered a magnolia? If you do like the idea then think of Soulangea. Get a big one as they take a while to flower. There not cheap, but well worth the wait.  Here is an image:

    And another:

    If you want a Hawthorn - Paul's Scarlet is a nice one
  • I'd go for a holly in that corner ... as well as being a wonderful and beautiful tree, it has flowers for the bees, berries for the birds (and for the house at Christmas) if you get a female, and marvellous cover for the birds in the winter and a place of refuge from sparrowhawks etc.  

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

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