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What to plant in a shady garden

I have quite a large, but mostly shaded garden. Shaded by Oak, beech, cherry and holly mostly.  So I guess the soil is slightly acidic, but over sand/gravel as well. I would like to grow more nectar-providing plants or shrubs in the shade for the bees and butterflies.  Any suggestions anyone?
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  • Victoria SpongeVictoria Sponge WearsidePosts: 2,820
    Hello, welcome to the forum🙂

    I suppose it depends how shady it is. I have a border that only gets sun from the east and the most useful plants for pollinators (that do well there) are hellebore, pulmonaria, honesty, geranium phaeum, aconitum and actaea in approx order of flowering.

    I'm not really a shrub grower so can't advise on them, but I'm sure others will have more advice.
  • K67K67 Leicestershire Posts: 767
    https://www.plantsforshade.co.uk or the RHS website are very helpful. 

  • stewyfizzstewyfizz West BromwichPosts: 161
    Plantsforshade are an excellent company. Ordered about 15 plants from them last month for a dry and shady spot. Mixture of ferns and perennials. All arrived in excellent condition and are doing well. Good thing about their site is that you can search for plants that suit the conditions i.e dry shade, damp shade, partial, deep shade etc.
    Gardening. The cause of, and solution to, all of my problems.
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 30,240
    There are loads of plants which will suit, Peter,  as already said, so it won;t be difficult to find some good plants.
    I'm guessing it's going to be quite dry, judging by your description, but hardy geraniums will cope with anything.
    I have lots of damp shade, and can offer ideas for shrubs and perennials if you have damp areas. There are ferns which will suit dry or damp, and many ground cover plants will cope with both, like Ajuga and Vinca. 
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....


  • josusa47josusa47 Posts: 2,998
    edited June 2019
    Would it be an option to lower or thin the surrounding trees and shrubs to let more light in?  Strategically sited mirrors can also increase the light in a garden, as well as being decorative in themselves, and creating an illusion of space and/or vistas beyond the boundary.
  • Thanks everyone.  Unfortunately I am unable to touch the trees as they are protected.  I like the idea of a mirror though!
  • RubytooRubytoo On the sofa, Southerly aspect.Posts: 1,185
    edited June 2019
    We have the same Peter, we have also been told to be careful of what and where we dig/disturb. You can apply to have the crowns raised, a posh stupid term for cutting off lower branches. Apologies if you already know.
    We like ours to stay as natural as possible.

    I grow epimediums which do give early flowers and some nice leaf shapes and some are wintergreen too with nice colour. Though mostly only spring flowering . I recently got Amber Queen which is supposed to flower later in the year too.

    Also Heuchera, a wide variety do well in shade and bees love those flowers. Our "Chocolate ruffles" is in quite  a lot of shade for most of the day yet still has delicate spires of little white flowers.
     Also look at Heucherella and Tiarella.
    There is a site called heucheraholics , someone linked to the other day which has some good pictures and information and of course you can buy them too, other sites are available :D
  • Plot75Plot75 SurreyPosts: 69
    Fairygirl said:
    There are loads of plants which will suit, Peter,  as already said, so it won;t be difficult to find some good plants.
    I'm guessing it's going to be quite dry, judging by your description, but hardy geraniums will cope with anything.
    I have lots of damp shade, and can offer ideas for shrubs and perennials if you have damp areas. There are ferns which will suit dry or damp, and many ground cover plants will cope with both, like Ajuga and Vinca. 
    I'd thumbs up hardy geraniums....they will grow very well. Think about woodland flowers perhaps? I mean they survive under dense canopies of trees...just a thought. 
    Mix 2tbsp of white,granulated sugar with 1tbsp of water and place on a spoon for a Bee to reach. Sometimes they're too exhausted to reach back to the hives when it's hot and dry. 
  • excellent - thanks.

  • AndyDeanAndyDean Posts: 153
    As mentioned above, plus I'd add sweet rocket, foxglove, primulas.

    Climbing hydrangea likes a shady spot I think if you need something like that.
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