Like those red busses where you have none then 3 come at once so my latest projects all seem to have varying degrees of shade planting required.

I have long been a fan of shade so it didn’t fill me with the usual groans I often hear about shady spots. In fact shade is wonderful for many plants that cannot bear the scorching (!) heat of summer. Ok maybe that scorching weather is in my dreams in the UK, but there are many plants that do better with a light dappled shade during the day.

Visits to Beth Chatto’s Colchester garden have inspired several planting plans and having recently purchased her excellent book The Shade Garden: Shade-loving Plants for Year-round Interest I am rather excited about putting more of these ideas into practice.

Sample planting plan for partial shade – Green and White focus

The 3 plots are in fact quite different. 1st is woodland with mature deciduous trees around a meadow area, 2nd is a wide sandy bank in full, deep shade and the 3rd a front garden with a large un-moveable, un-trimable conifer.

Let me say here that not all shade is created equal and though shade is often considered a ‘tough environment’, a light dappled shade with plenty of well drained, moist soil is heaven for literally hundreds of well known varieties.

Hosta in late April

Dicentra alba, commonly known as bleeding heart

Aquilegia vulgaris – commonly known as Granny’s Bonnet!

Anemone bland – wood anemone

Deep shade on dry soil on the other hand is less appetising for most plants and thriving in such conditions is a tall order for all but the most vigorous and yet, some do.

Euonymus fortunei Emerald Gaiety



Ajuga reptans ‘ Catlins Giant’

Liriope muscari


















Like all garden designers I have my favourites for planting and like any kid in a sweetshop I want to have everything, in this case that means trying out new plant combinations in these, new to me, planting environments. Taking into account the clients interest and expertise in plants is also something I consider and if they have a professional gardener that’s all to the good for introducing the odd specialist variety.

I am ‘composting’ ideas at the moment but am excited about the emerging combinations.

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