Hartley Magazine

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

Shaded areas ‘should be used carefully’

An expert has suggested that gardening enthusiasts make careful use of the opportunities presented to them by shaded spots.

Stephen Lacey, garden writer, lecturer, broadcaster and a plantsman with a particular interest in planting design, claimed that this can be a particular issue at this time of year.

Indeed, as the summer weather is retreating and the days are drawing in, the nature of any gardener's tasks is altered significantly.

In an article for the Daily Telegraph across the pond in the UK, Mr Lacey claimed that an accumulation of trees and shrubs in his own garden means that shade is an issue he has to face square on.

He said that there are not many late flowering plants that will prosper in almost total darkness – but offered a suggestion for anyone who is attempting such a growth.

Cyclamen hederifolium was singled out as a good example of a flower that is capable of doing just this. Its common name is the ivy-leaved cyclamen – and it is the most widespread of its species by some distance.

At its most hardy and vigorous in oceanic climates, it is native to woodland and shrubland areas, as well as rocky climes in the Mediterranean region. However – and most relevant to US gardeners – it has become naturalised in the Pacific Northwest.

Its five petals are usually pink, purple, or white – and there is usually also a streaky magenta V-shaped marking on the nose. Indeed, it is a relatively varied species, as the range of its shape can be anywhere between long and thin to short and squat. Sometimes its flowers are fragrant.

Mr Lacey elaborated upon some of the best areas to grow this in, which could be useful for greenhouse growers.

"It thrives for me on the dry, north side of hollies and conifers and under dense trees, where there is some light in winter but hardly any now," he commented, adding: "I have just been adding more of the pink forms to a revamped shady glade (light but sunless) by the front gate and will also transplant some of my own self-sown seedlings there in the spring."

The expert claimed that color scheming is currently out of fashion – although this is by no means a common consensus.

Professional planter and garden writer Graham Rice recently claimed that dahlias are making a big comeback. He specified that their vibrant and dazzling colors give them a very popular appeal at the present time – and he added that they can look very defining on borders in particular.

However, Mr Rice acknowledged that some strains of the species can be fairly difficult to integrate with others due to their flamboyant color scheme.

Mr Lacey said that no matter what the fashionable trends are at the moment, he still enjoys having a vague theme in each of his garden areas.

"Other pinkish plants I have been gathering in this same spot are Hydrangea macrophylla Merveille Sanguine, which has dark leaves and sumptuous blood-crimson mopheads," he remarked.

The expert also expressed a fondness for Hadspen Abundance, as it is one of the richest-hued Japanese anemones currently available. It is defined by its large, saucer-shaped flowers – and seeds itself promiscuously.

Persicaria campanulata was another flower Mr Lacey recommended, as it has loose heads and flowers in a very pale shade of pink. He likened this to cherry blossom – with one notable difference – its stems can grow to around three feet long.

"I try to get scent into as many corners of the garden as possible, and that includes shade," the expert stated.