Hartley Magazine

All the latest news, hints, tips and advice from our experts

Greenhouse growers ‘need to think about shade’

There are many different aspects of the outdoors for gardeners to think about – not least of which is the varying degrees of access to light that different plants require.

Former presenter of the Gardeners World television show and garden writer Alys Fowler has claimed that shade is a particularly important consideration.

In an article for the national newspaper the Guardian across the pond in the UK, the expert explained that there is a strict hierarchy associated with shade.

Dry and parched areas that are hidden from the sun by a building shadow or a monster leylandii are highly undesirable.

Top of the pile is the damp and dappled shade provided by a large deciduous tree with a thick layer of leaf mould – which Ms Fowler described as "nirvana".

This could be worth bearing in mind for people who are thinking of purchasing a greenhouse and are wondering where it would best be situated.

A research group at the University of California has underlined the fact that light levels also need to be considered for anyone looking to attract pollinators to their garden.

This is just one of the many factors that go in to making a green space friendly to the bee population.

Indeed, it is not just about the flowers that are contained, but rather the diversity of plants that is more important to the bumbling creatures.

Ms Fowler said that while there are very few plants that thrive in the challenges of dry shade, the mourning willow – which has a Latin binominal name of Geranium phaeum – is able to grow in the parched, shallow soils around tree roots.

However, these are not the cheeriest plants – so gardeners may wish to turn elsewhere if they wish to brighten up their land with a spot of color.

Three suggestions of plants that ideally fit this bill were proffered by Ms Fowler – first the hardy geraniums – or G phaeum – which will "bring light to dark corners".

"Likewise, Liriope muscari, with its spires of purple beaded flowers, tolerates hot, dry sites," she continued, adding: "So will Vinca minor, the lesser periwinkle, slightly less of a thug than its cousin, V major, the greater periwinkle. These are the safe choices beloved of office plantings, but if you work at your soil, there are other options."

"As for plants, stick to the true woodlanders, starting with a layer of bulbs such as snowdrops or Anemone nemorosa," the expert remarked.