colour in a shady garden??

hi, im looking for plants and flowers to brighten up my drab garden, which is over looked by woodland and partial shady at best (though better now someone thinned overhanging branches). this year mum and i have decided to re-landscape our 20x15(feet) aprox garden. we also have two big enerjetic dogs who love to stick there noses in flower pots and plants in general so anything tthats on the durable side would be great. we have quite a few privit bush/trees, christmas roses (but their purple ? :S) and ontainer potatoes- we also have a slug problem...

thanks for any advice you can give


p.s. my mum is allergic to lavender



  • Gracie5Gracie5 Posts: 125

    There is a website called Plants for Shade which might be helpful.  I have a similar situation to yours and what I have done is planted and scattered the seed of yellow Corydalis which grows very well in shady areas. It's a wild plant and is rampant but is very effective and very colourful in problem areas.

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 43,784

    I have a shady bank under trees - apart from greenery (ferns, hostas etc) we have foxgloves, primroses, English bluebells, wood anemones, pulmonaria, japanese anemones, hardy geraniums, lamiums, hellebores, honeysuckles, dicentra alba, clematis montana, rambler roses (there are some that do really well under trees - look at the Peter Beales website - brilliant, lots of help), periwinkles, alchemilla mollis and I've only just started ... image

    Lavender wouldn't do well in shade so looks like your garden is really suitable for your mum image


    No-one knows if you've done your housework, but everyone knows if you've done your gardening !
  • LokelaniLokelani Posts: 112

    We have a deep north facing border. At the back are climbing roses, some are fine with less sun, honeysuckle, clematis montana, pyracanthas for colour when the berries are out, ceanaothus for blue in spring, woodland type bulbs are fine. Forget me not was a lovely splash of blue a month or so ago. Hardy geraniums. I finally got a japanese anemone established there for tall pink flowers in autumn, but I'm not sure how well it will flower yet. Same with aquilegias, I've got them established finally, but they probably flower more in sun. I'm trying some thalictrum aquilegifolium but it's not that colouful. 

    Most of the spring colour in ours somes from camellias, azaleas & dwarf rhodedendrons, but your soil has to be acidic for them. In the autumn a lot of colour comes from asters. 

    Clematis is a great splash of colour, but slugs have eaten every variety I've tried, except the enormous montana. Nelly Moser is good in shade, with pretty pink stripes. 

    If the border is large enough, small maples can give great colour with their foliage. 

    I always think there are a lot of shade tolerant plants, but looking at the reply above we both have lots of the same plants, so there are definitely some more commonly used ones. 

  • Matty2Matty2 Posts: 4,820

    Try Tradescantia. I find once established is quite strong and a really long flowring season.

  • Viola111Viola111 Posts: 19

    Your garden sounds a lot like my little South London plot and I've been amazed at how much colour it's possible to have. I completely support Gracie5, corydalis lutea is beautiful and grows anywhere (and everywhere). Bleeding heart (dicentra spectabilis) is lovely, and 'goldheart' has bright gold leaves with pink flowers if you like that combination. Tradescantia 'sweet Kate' has done very well in my border with only a couple of hours' sun a day,again it has strong golden-yellow leaves and mauve flowers. I have a camellia 'ruby wedding' in a pot, which (against all the odds) flowers its heart out in full shade in February. If you like speedwells, veronica 'Eveline' is supposed to tolerate light shade, and so far it seems to be happy under my apple tree, it hasn't died yet and it has lovely spires of lavender-purple flowers.

    The other thing that a lovely person on this forum recommended to me is heucheras and I've become a complete convert. The flowers are small (though quite graceful) but the leaves are everything from orange to lime yellow to burgundy to almost-black, and a lot of the most colourful ones actually dislike sun. And they're evergreen which is perfect!

  • Viola111Viola111 Posts: 19

    And I should have said - violas. Having spent the first year after we moved in digging up 120 square feet of the wretched things I can guarantee that wild violets *thrive* in shade. I believe the more domesticated ones do too, although I now loathe the whole genus and I haven't planted any! 

  • ShuvShuv Posts: 18

    For a lovely shrub how about Pieris? They are evergreen and all different colours at different ties of year. I grew two in pots when I just had a little city courtyard gardens and they did really well. Also Pulmonaria I find are great, I have them on the shady side of my current garden and they seem to love it, They can get quite big though so be careful how close you plant them to other things!

  • jo4eyesjo4eyes Posts: 2,032

    I agree with everyone else, except I just cant grow corydalis!

    Accept that your garden will probably be best in the Spring, before the overhanging leaf canopy increases. It could also be quite dry beneath that canopy, plus from the tree roots, so for any planting you do do, make 'soil pockets' & add as much compost/leaf mould at planting time as you can. The plants will thank you for it.

    A book I had on permanent loan from the libary, until I got my own copy is Green Tapestry by Beth Chatto. Also The Woodland Garden by her- but on a much bigger scale than most 'normal' size gardens. Lots of ideas though.

    Absolutely inspirational to me when I was despairing of my part shade plot. J.

  • kate1123kate1123 Posts: 2,815

    I happily grow Ox-eye daisies in my shady border, underplanted with bulbs.

  • jo4eyesjo4eyes Posts: 2,032

    Now you see I lost all mine! There were loads along the verges as I drove to NWales t'other day- kept saying I must try again now have more light in the garden. J.

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