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Shade Is The New Cool

Shade Is The New Cool

Don’t be afraid of the dark….you never know what lurks in the shadows until you venture!  There are many misconceptions that gardening in the shade is impossible.

Most green fingers know that’s not too far from the truth - that area in the garden that gets no sun is considered the ultimate challenge. There are many problems associated with a shady spot and picking the right plants is the key to your success. What you’ll need is some basic knowledge and a shovel load of confidence to get started. 

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Firstly, get to know your shade. 

Is the space shady all year round? South facing gardens are notoriously tricky and there isn’t a home that does not have a full-time shadow cast by a wall or out-building. Do beams of light appear at certain times of the day? Does a deciduous tree provide summer coverage and is the ground damp or does it drain well? The good news is plants are the ultimate niche-fillers and there’s a sure-fire way to create a shady garden bed with character and beauty. 

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Dress to impress. 

Whether it’s a large architectural specimen like Rhapis palm (lady palm) or a weird and wonderful specimen like Bromeliad that occasionally takes the spotlight; make sure your dark space is eye-catching. Texture is the number one design rule. Choose plants with varying foliage sizes and shapes and make your borders deep. Plant boldly with one or two varieties and every now and again add a feature plant that surprises. Try Hostas with lush, broad foliage and mix them with Clivia miniata (Kaffir Lily) that has strappy leaves and deep orange flowers. Use groundcovers to brighten the floor; a favorite is Viola hederacea (Native Viola) that looks fantastic between pavers. It tolerates wet soil and will flower for most of the year. 

Generally speaking, deep green plants adapt well to little light, but this doesn’t limit you to a foliage only garden.

Species like Hydrangea, Gardenias and Camellias (will be OK in dappled/filtered light) and New Guinea Impatiens grow well in deep shade and all produce flowers that can bring colour to a dark corner. If you want to add a little sparkle to the shady spot then incorporate plants with variegated foliage or white flowers. Some of the best examples that will dazzle in the darkness are Hosta, AlocasiaSyngonium, Anthurium ‘Snow King’ and perfumed Convallaria (Lily of The Valley). 


Written by Kelly-Jean Saffy 

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