Forum home Problem solving

West facing border shaded by trees in Autumn/Winter

We have been preparing a new west facing border.  Since I started planting in our garden in Spring, this border has been in sun from mid morning onwards but, over the last couple of weeks, I've realised that the sun has dropped behind the trees at the bottom of the garden and it's barely receiving any direct sunlight.  As a result, I'm hesitating about the planting design.

The trees casting shade are a mix of conifers and a big sycamore.  The conifers have grown and the sycamore currently has most of its leaves - so in Springtime, I was seeing the border without the sycamore leaves blocking light for most of the afternoon.   

This was going to be a border planted with lots of sun-loving perennials (agapanthus, delphinium, lupin, echinacea, rudbeckia etc) plus a few shrubs and an Acer Griseum, but clearly I'm going to go through this period every year where they will be in shade all day until all the leaves fall.  

Since it's nearing the end of the season, would this lack of sunlight be an issue that would make you reassess the plants to use?  


  • JennyJJennyJ DoncasterPosts: 6,996
    The perennials do most of their stuff in summer so if they get sun from spring equinox to autumn equinox or thereabouts, I think they'll be OK. The acer should be OK with partial shade but I don't know about the other shrubs.
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 47,289
    Yes.  :)
    The Acer will possibly be fine unless it's bone dry, and/or windy and exposed. 
    Most of the other plants will tend to lean towards the light, so will need a lot of support, but if they have around five or six hours of decent light, they could be fine.
    It also depends on how far away all the trees are. 
    If you have some photos, that will help too   :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • Thanks for the replies.  We'd hoped that since it's only part of the Autumn till the leaves drop that the perennials would have done most of their growing and not be badly affected but I'll do a double check on which ones can tolerate shade most and plant accordingly.  

    Shrubs that I have waiting to go in are a Taxus Baccata Standishii, Escallonia, Romneya Coulteri, Pittosporum, Viburnum Plicatum Mariesii, and Sambucus Nigra.  A couple of these will have to go to the northerly end of the border.  Our neighbours have a mature Acer Griseum which is growing in probably a more shaded position so I don't feel too worried about planting it.  

    I don't have any photos of that area just now but the border starts about 3m from a conifer that's currently 7m tall (but expected to be cut back to 4m over the winter) and is 11m in length.  It's neutral clay soil that is being improved with compost and grit before planting.     
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 47,289
    edited September 2021
    I'd use rotted manure for improving the clay, rather than grit. You would need tons of the stuff to make any appreciable difference.  :)
    Any organic matter is the best solution for clay. 
    Escallonias generally prefer sun and free draining soil , so that may struggle. Not all Pittosporums are reliably hardy either, so take care in choosing, and pick according to your location. 
    I'm  doubtful that the Romneya would be very happy there as they need a lot of sun and freer draining soil. They aren't fully hardy either, so your location will dictate whether that does well.  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • JennyJJennyJ DoncasterPosts: 6,996
    The sambucus will be fine. Mine are on the west side of the house so they only ever get afternoon/evening sun even in midsummer, and one has some additional shade from a tree.
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 47,289
    Yes - and the yew and viburnum will also be fine. I should have made that clearer    :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • Thanks for the additional information.  Sounds like a rejig is in order and I might hold off planting till Spring so I can get some additional manure rotting over winter.  The neighbours are going to love me :D

    Some of this bit of the garden has been worked before (many years ago it was a market garden) as I'm not hitting the solid clay I've got in other beds as soon as I start digging, but I might create some raised sand/gravel/soil areas to give the sun lovers a bit more of a fighting chance and cross my fingers that they like it.  I saw a garden on clay recently which had a raised bed made of builders' sand and it was doing very well.
Sign In or Register to comment.