Border in complete shade


I'm starting on a border that runs the length of my garden. It is always in the shade due to it being along a fence and the way in which our garden is facing. Last year I shoved various bits and bobs in there that were leftovers because I didn't really want to attempt it. This year however I want to give it a good go. 


I am primarily looking for things that will be quite tall, to draw away from the fence.

Are there any budget full shade plants I can look out for? I'm getting a greenhouse so propagating is an option.

Are there any full shade plants that give quite a bit of spread or are fast growers?

I would also be interested in any plants that are evergreen, so that come after summer  it doesn't just turn back to nothingness with the odd weed 


Any advice would be greatly received!

thanks x



  • LynLyn Posts: 8,384

    I have bergenia, hebes,  penstemon, pulmonaria,  and golden/green euonymous in  one of my completely shaded borders, i also have 2 rose bushes that surprisingly do very well.


    I will also put some fucshias in later on and begonias and lobelia round the edge, they did well last year.There are day lilys and crocosmia in there but not evergreen really, although they started to shoot before christmas so have been showing green right through.

    Gardening on the wild, windy west side of Dartmoor. 
  • fidgetbonesfidgetbones Posts: 11,241

    Foxgloves. A packet of seed will give you plenty of plants. A garden near me was filled with them last year (I think they were camelot series).It looked gorgeous.

      Dalmation Peach will give you flowers this year, but mostly you sow foxgloves this year to give flowers next year. Once you have them they will seed themselves.

    It's not a mess, it's a nature reserve.
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 19,728

    As already suggested, Euonymous are great for this type of location. I bought 3 (in 4/5" pots) for £10 last year in my local B&Q so good value. They've put on good growth already.

    Japanese anemones will do well and give late summer/autumn colour and a bit of height. Pinks and whites readily available and they'll seed around - some people have problems with them being invasive but I've not found that here. Jacob's Ladder (Polemonium) in whites and blues, and Dicentra (Bleeding Heart) in pinks and white,both love shady positions. You can plant snowdrops and crocus etc for this time of year. Heucheras will do well and there are bright colours of green and gold as well as the more common purples, so they brighten up this kind of aspect. I have Lime Marmalade -self explanatory! A decent plant can be split and grows away quickly, and they also seed around. Fatsia japonica is a great evergreen for shade and has big, tropical leaves. Grows quite quickly. I have a Pernettya ( now called Gaultheria) which will grow in shade, is evergreen and they have large berries - pale pink or white.

    Take a look at a specialist shade nursery called Long Acre plants online. I've not personally used them but they have loads of ideas. image

  • Rosie31Rosie31 Posts: 483

    And what about a climbing hydrangea (hydrangea petiolaris) if you want to hide the fence?  They take a little bit of time to get into their stride (a year or two) but then they shoot up and look lovely - very fresh green all year and pretty which flowers.  Mine is in full shade on a north facing wall (in rubbish soil) and is thriving...

  • LuubearLuubear Posts: 21

    Lyn, I think I already have hebes, they bloom tiny little flowers and look like swans heads, if that makes any sense? I have looked up pulmonaria.. They look a lot like a plant that I can't seem to get rid of in one of my veg patches, though I'm not sure it's that. I've been meaning to find out what it is, I will attach a photo. I've never left it long enough to flower or anything, but I can't get rid of it and it keeps coming up when I'm trying to grow veg haha. I will post a new thread about it and see if anyone else knows.




    Fidgetbones, I haven't had much luck with foxgloves. I had them in the border on the opposite side in partial shade under an apple tree. Do they come back up? It's disappeared So I'm hoping it will come back and stronger?


    Fairy girl, all your suggestions look amazing. I actually already have Japanese anemones, I didn't know what it was called until now! Which is good because my nan kept asking me all last year what they were.


    Rosie, that's interesting about the Hydrangeas in shade.. I have three cuttings that have rooting that I took from my I uncles last year. They are tiny though and I'm worried they would just get eaten but its a thought!

  • AtillaAtilla Posts: 1,493

    Acucuba japonia, mahonia japonica, most ferns - there are a lot that you could plant.

  • LynLyn Posts: 8,384

    Luu, your picture there does show white spots on the leaves but i dont think it pulmaneria.  It will be flowering soon if it is, perhaps wait and see, the bees love it.

    Gardening on the wild, windy west side of Dartmoor. 
  • Dicentra and even some clematis. I have a north facing patch an I have crocosmia that does very well as well as aqualegia ..... wilkinson had an offer on for 3 bare root plants for £5.00 ( some had 3 roots per pack)

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 43,665

    I think the leaves in your picture may be comfrey or borage or something like that.  Don't think it's pulmonaria. 

    My Shady Bank is a northfacing bed with a high fence to the south side so northfacing as well - we've got several honeysuckles and clematis growing up the fence and some roses - there are several of each that are perfectly happy in shade. 

    No-one knows if you've done your housework, but everyone knows if you've done your gardening !
  • nutcutletnutcutlet Posts: 24,237

    I think that plant is green alkanet, Pentaglossis sempervirens. I thought I posted that before but must have forgotten to press submitimage

    The various forms of honesty are good in shade and seed themselves from year to year without any assistance

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