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Flower bed in the shade

Hello, I am trying to design a flower bed in an area of shade. It is shaded by the house and has no direct sunlight. In the corner there is also our neighbours fence that I would like to hide.

The pink area is where the flower bed will go and the orange will be a patio...

The yellow line shows where the direct sunlight stops...

And this orange circle is what I would like to hide...

I have seen lots of lists of plants that cope well in the shade, but I'm not sure if these refer to full shade as in under big trees or a place that is still quite bright but shaded from the house. The ground is not that dry unless we have no rain for a week or so, but it's not super wet! 

- if anybody has any tips for a shaded border or any examples that would be great! 

- for hiding the fencing I had thought about an acer or hydrangea, would these be ok in this area? 

- any suggestion for plants or how to begin to design this would be most appreciated! Wondering whether it might be best to buy say 4 or 5 larger/ bushier plants and then wait a bit to see how they do and then like of grow around them? 

Thank you very much! 


  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 30,019
    Whereabouts in France are you?  It's a huge country with great variations in summer and winter temperatures/rain/snow and that will determine what will do well.
    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • @Obelixx we are close to geneva at the bottom of the Jura mountains. So middle east really 😊 Fairly hot summers and a bit of snow in the winter. 
  • Do you think a hydrangea can work there? 
  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 30,019
    edited July 2021
    A hydrangea would probably work very well.  There are several forms available.  My preference is for the paniculatas as these can be pruned hard and fed in spring and then grow new stems which flower later the same season.  Most paniculatas have mostly white or cream flowers which "fade" thru pinks to deeper reds as the season progresses.   Vanille Fraise is deservedly popular and the dreadully named Pinky Winky is good too.  There are some varieties which are more lime green than cream.

    In my last garden in Belgium paniculatas did well but the more traditional mopheads and lace-caps flower on previous season's wood and I never got any thru a Belgian winter which could have several weeks of -15C and worse and that killed all their stems back to the ground.  These come in blues, pinks and reds but you'll only get a strong blue if you have acidic soil.  Neutral will get you muddy mauve.  Alkaline will get you pink in the ones that depend on soil for colour.

    Here I have inherited a gorgeous deep pink mophead and a muddy one, either side of the door to what was the old farmhouse and in a north facing bed.   Both are doing very well now that they've been pruned and fed for a couple of years since our arrival.

    There also a form called quercifolia (oak leaf shaped leaves) but I've never grown it?  @Fairygirl does tho in her garden ins Scotland.

    If you can improve the soil there with plenty of well-rotted manure and compost and make sure it doesn't go thirsty in hot dry spells a hydrangea paniculata should love it there.  Make sure you give it space to spread and grow. 

    Just the one will cover that hole but I think you have space there for 2 or 3 if well spaced.  You could in-fill with spring bulbs and early flowering perennials such as dicentra, hellebores, bergenias.....   For a change of leaf and flower shape you could try sme hemerocallis for mid summer colour and Japanese anemones for late summer.  Some large leaved hostas would be good there too as long as you can do slug patrols while their foliage is young ad juicy.
    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • @Obelixx thank you so much! This has given me a lot to think about 😊 I have started to clear the area and I have found a producer of hydrangea and will buy in September I think once it has cooled down a bit! If I mix in the manure and compost do you think it's best to do it now or wait until just before I get the plants? Thank you very much again for your help! 
  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 30,019
    I'd get it done as soon as you can so that it can settle but also to let weed seeds germinate and be hoed off.   Don't forget to water the pots thoroughly before planting, tease the root ball a bit to encourage roots to thrust outwards into the soil out and then water again after planting.
    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • Adey.Adey. Posts: 25
    That is quite a large bed. You will need more than one hydrangea to cover all that. Ferns are good in shady spots.
    What are you thinking a raised bed? This would naturally add height to cover some of the wall for you.
    Is there a particular colour you like - for example i love purple and blues. So have a shady purple and blue flower border only. 
    How about a clematis climbing that wall?
  • SendmesunSendmesun Posts: 63
    edited July 2021
    Geranium rozanne and geranium wargrave pink flower well in my shady border until the Japanese anenomes and asters come along. For height and interest I have evergreen shrubs at the back mostly winter flowering shade lovers eg viburnum and shrubs with berries. The shade in that corner is from the neighbours giant leilandi hoping to broach that subject in the autumn. Bluebells,  daffodils, primrose and hyasynths for spring all seem to do well. I'm sure there will be lots more as I'm just learning by trial and error. 
  • seacrowsseacrows Posts: 234
    Also maybe a variety of berberis. I'm told these take full shade, just slows them down a bit. Pyracantha? Flowers and berries, bird friendly. If you get one of the more vigorous varieties you need to cut a couple of times a year though, even in shade and poor soil. We have blackbird parties as they queue up to grab a beakful of berry.
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,872
    Lots of stuff suitable for a shady spot, so it depends on the look you like, temperature variations, soil condition and how much time you want to spend etc  :)
    The oakleaf hydrangeas are great, and tolerate more sun and drier soil than many of the others, so that might suit you very well. Low maintenance too. The big bonus is the foliage colour in autumn. 
    The white flowers also tend to be white - not coloured with shades of blue, green or pink like many whites. Another reason I like them, as I really don't like that colouring. 
    Mine are around 4 or 5 feet in each direction now. 
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
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