Planning for the shaded garden

Whilst most of us are dreaming about the sunshine, I’m thinking about the shade.

A pink Foxglove 'Excelsior Hybrids Mixed' plant on flower.

There’s a part of my garden that spends a fair amount of time in the shade. The clay soil is pretty tough here – like the stickiest glue in the winter, and like concrete in summer. I’m hoping to improve this with compost, bark, a little sand and grit, but this will take time to accomplish.

When I moved in, nothing but weeds lived in this corner of the garden, which is up against a tall perimeter fence, and bordering the side of my patio and instantly visible from my lounge window.

I realised that it was shady, and transplanted a number of young Foxglove ‘Excelsior Hybrids Mixed’ seedlings into this space. I first sowed these back at my old house in 2011, and they have self-sown into my garden pots from my old garden, and come along for the ride when I moved house.

A pink Foxglove 'Excelsior Hybrid Mixed' on flower
This Foxglove ‘Excelsior Hybrids Mixed’ seedling survived the garden transplantation in 2017.

These are growing well, and I added a fern too (they’re so ancient and elegant!).

The uncurling fronds of a lush green fern.
I’ve had this Fern in a pot for years – I love its curled fronds of lush green foliage.

Now it’s time to add another shade-coping flower – i’ve opted for Thompson & Morgan’s Aquilegia ‘McKana Giants’.  Strangely their website says ‘full sun’ yet the packet reads ‘full sun or semi-shade’, so I’m going to hope the latter works.

These come in a range of colours, and apparently they can reach a height of 1 metre, and so alongside the foxgloves, they should add a nice bit of height against the fence.

This afternoon I sowed these tiny black seeds into some multipurpose compost, lightly dusted some on top, and then sealed them in a bag and put them at the back of my fridge. Yes, you read that correctly. The fridge.

Apparently, they have to stay there for about 3 weeks (or at least until they begin to germinate, after which they can hop out and into my propagator. I assume that this simulates Winter, as my mother has many that happily self-sow in her garden each year, so they’re not fussy about the cold.

Seeing as we have a new ice age branded ‘polar vortex‘ coming this week (I guess it sells newspapers, right?), I could probably just put them outside instead!

Whatever your weather, stay safe and warm, and happy gardening.

Thanks for reading,


Author: Andrew

I've been growing things since I was about 5 years old. Now I'm in my 30's, I'm sowing, nurturing, harvesting and enjoying the blooms in my own gardens.

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