Narrow shaded areas tend to get overlooked in a garden but there’s no reason why they can’t be transformed into an area of beauty that gives year-round interest. So, here’s a few tips on how to transform that problem patch with these plants for narrow shaded spots.

GROW UPWARDS

Take advantage of the vertical space above the border by planting climbers and trained trees and shrubs.

If the narrow area is backed by a wall or fence evergreen shrubs like Pyracantha can successfully be trained up and along it. Then, you get the added bonus of cheerful colour berries in the autumn months, much beloved by birds.

Pyracantha rogersiana (yellow Asian firethorn) ‘Flava’

The glossy leaves of this arching shrub will help lighten the shady area and produce clusters of creamy-white flowers in the spring followed by small, bright yellow berries.

  • Flowers in spring, berries in summer and autumn
  • Hardy
  • Grows to 4m
  • Moist but well drained soil or well-drained soil
  • Full sun or partial shade
  • Sheltered or exposed

Chaenomeles speciosa (Japanese quince) ‘Salmon Horizon’

Next is a pretty, easy to grow, compact shrub that will flower for weeks. It’ll brighten up a shady area with semi-double salmon-pink flowers from spring into the summer months. Then, in the autumn it produces scented yellow fruit that can be used as a quince substitute to make flavoursome jellies.

  • Flowers in spring
  • Hardy
  • Grows to 1.5m tall
  • Moist but well-drained or well-drained soil
  • Full sun or partial shade
  • Sheltered or exposed
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AVOID PLANTING TOO MANY DIFFERENT TYPES OF PLANTS

It’s tempting to try and cram as many different types of plants in the space as possible to make it look cheerful, but this can result in a jumbled, confusing mass. It’s far better to have several of the same type of plant along the length of the border and then vary the heights.

Ferns provide lovely edge of border interest, growing along the entire length. There are varieties, both deciduous and evergreen, to suit both moist and dry soils. Dry shade can be particularly challenging, in which case look out for ferns like Polypodium and Dryopteris which grow well in those conditions.

Polypodium vulgare (common polypody)

A low growing evergreen, hardy fern which makes a perfect edging plant for dry shady areas. They are a low-maintenance addition to the garden, and also well suited to rock gardens.

  • Evergreen foliage
    • Fully hardy
  • Grows to 50cm tall
  • Moist but well-drained or well-drained soil
  • Full sun or partial shade
  • Sheltered
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Hakonechloa macra (Japanese forest grass)

This popular clump forming grass produces elegant, arching stems and seed heads later in the season. What’s more, these seed heads can be dried and used in flower arrangements. Cut down the old foliage in spring just before new growth starts.

  • Flowers in summer
  • Fully hardy
  • Grows to 50cm tall
  • Moist but well-drained soil
  • Full sun, partial shade or full shade
  • Exposed or sheltered
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FEATURE SHRUBS

Consider including an evergreen, feature shrub in the middle section of the border and, if the border is long enough, repeat plant at intervals.

Look for shrubs with predominantly white or variegated colour leaves to brighten the area. Pittosporum are evergreens, grow well in shade, and there are several different variegated leaf cultivars to choose from. Also, there’s an added bonus of honey scented tiny flowers when established.

Pittosporum tenuifolium (pittosporum) ‘Irene Paterson’

This is a slow growing shrub with very pretty, predominantly bright white, speckled leaves. The leaves form a natural dense, dome shape, perfect for brightening a shady area. It can be easily pruned to restrict its width and height if needed.

  • Flowers in summer
  • Hardy through most areas of the UK
  • Grows to 1.2m tall
  • Well-drained soil
  • Full sun or partial shade
  • Sheltered
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LONG FLOWERING PERENNIALS

Anemone hupehensis var. japonica (Japanese anemone) ‘Pamina’

Usually trouble-free and easy to grow, this pretty, pink flowering, deciduous cultivar grows to medium height. Therefore its leaves can be hidden by the evergreen grasses and ferns as they start to die off.

  • Flowers in summer
  • Fully hardy
  • Grows to 90cm tall
  • Moist but well-drained soil
  • Full sun or partial shade
  • Exposed or sheltered
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Bulbs

Snowdrops look delightful peeking through the stems of ferns during the cold winter months. Look for taller growing varieties like ‘Sam Arnott’ as well as our native, lower growing Galanthus nivalis. Daffodils will also grow well in shade and, again, are available, in a range of different heights and flower shapes.

Narrow, shaded spots in the garden may get forgotten, or plants may not seem to thrive there. This guide to plants fit for the purpose of narrow, shaded spots will help you brighten up dull sections of the garden.

Find out more about adding texture to your garden:

Adding texture

Or check out my Pinterest board for more ideas:

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