Finding plants that will cope with shade, particularly dry shade, can be a concern for many people but this varied selection should bring that shady part of your garden to life providing year round colour and interest.

1. Pachysandra terminalis (Japanese spurge)

Such an elegant well behaved plant that’s absolutely in its element in dry shade.  Short, at only 20cm, with a spread of 40cm, plant in groups for maximum impact and they will reward you with year round interest and pretty white flowers early spring.  There is also a variegated form.


2. Geranium phaeum (geranium cranesbill) ‘Samobor’


Another evergreen plant that’s happy in dry shade!  Samobor has beautiful large round bright green leaves with distinctive chocolate brown rings and small dark flowers late spring into summer.  It will grow to a height of around 60cm with a spread of 45cm.

3. Lilium martagon (turks cap lily)

Scent and summer colour is what you’ll get from this 1.2m high bulb with mauve-pink, darkly spotted flowers.  This bulb can produce as many as 50 flowers on a stem!  Very easy to naturalise in grass and also tolerant of lime soil. Definitely worth a go.


4. Hesperis (sweet rocket)


Once seen and smelt, very difficult to resist having this plant in your garden.  Highly scented flowers in shades ranging from white to light lavender, this tall (1m) annual/short lived perennial should definitely be top of your list for a shady part of the garden.  Extremely pretty and tolerant of poor soil, it looks good in both flower borders and woodland gardens.

5. Heuchera (coral bells) ‘Palace Purple’

Perfect front of border in a shady garden, these evergreen dark purple leaved plants are super hardy and super easy to grow.  They come in a myriad of coloured leaves and most produce flower stems with tiny creamy, white flowers early and mid summer. Height and spread 60cm x 30cm.


6. Thalictrum delavayi (meadow rue)


Very dainty looking plants with lacy, grey-green leaves and airy clusters of purple flowers appearing early to mid summer and can grow to 1.5m with a spread of 60cm.  They look wonderful drifting throughout a part shady border.

7. Galium odoratum (sweet woodruff)

If you want to fill a large partly shaded area with a trouble free plant then this is the one for you.  Low growing at only 15cm if given the right soil conditions, (well drained), it will reward you with a carpet of bright green umbrella shaped leaves in early spring followed by masses of tiny white star like flowers in late spring, early summer.  Plants benefit from a spring application of slow release fertiliser.


8. Hosta (plantain lily) ‘Francee’


There are many varieties of Hosta to choose for a shady area from large to tiny.  ‘Francee’ is one of the best white margined leaf  with flat, dark olive-green heart shape leaves with narrow irregular margins.  The lavender flowers bloom from mid to late summer.  It will increase rapidly and does best grown in light shade.

9. Pittosporum (Japanese laurel) ‘Irene Paterson’

These large shrubs can be used very effectively to create strong structural element to your shaded area and ‘Irene Paterson’ is a wonderful slow growing mound forming addition with her heavily white variegated leaves and perfect dome shape.  Less hardy than some of the other cultivars, but give her a sheltered spot in well drained soil and she should be quite happy.


10. Ilex (holly) ‘Hascombensis’


There are more than 400 different Holly species, often with glossy leaves, which are happy being clipped to shape as topiary.  Remarkably pollution tolerant and easy to care for, this small holly, which eventually grows to 1.2m, is very dense making it ideal for a low hedge with sharply spined small, dark green leaves.

Spring is on its way, see my post on spring pollinators:

Or check out my Pinterest board for more ideas:

spring pollinators
Spring pollinators
Pinterest Board