Mini Shade Bed

On the north side of my house there is a tiny bed that was, until last autumn, swamped with yellow Lysimachia and Hostas. The Hostas always look lovely for a few weeks, but when the slugs and snails shred the leaves they are so ugly I usually cut them back. So this bed was bare for the rest of the year. What a waste! So I dug it up.

I spared a few hostas and certainly didn’t succeed in removing all the Lysimachia, but there was suddenly a whole new area for me; the rest of my garden is sunny, dry and hot, while this area is shady – except for a little morning and midday sun in June and July. And although stony, the ground retains moisture here. The pleasure of  putting in new plants began last autumn…

… In March I was a little worried, as there were very few signs of life, but by April a few Primulas and my Corydalis cheilanthifolia were flowering, and the Heuchera were sprouting new leaves. Only by May could I see real progress:

Shade Bed Early May


I chose three Heucheras: Mint Frost, Electra, and Kimono and a fourth was a free gift from the nursery: Cracked Ice. With the two Phyllitis scolopendrium and the Hostas there is lots of lovely leaf colour. And some Epimediums should produce nice ground cover too when they leaf out a bit.

Shade Bed Mid-May


By mid May the geraniums started to flower – on the right is a lovely pale-leaved Geranium phaeum ‘Lily Lovell’ –  a gorgeous purply blue. And the pinky white flower at the front is Primula sieboldii ‘Coshibori’.

By late May it was filling out nicely:


In the centre is the pretty Semiaquilegia ‘Sugar Plum Fairy’ next to a blue Geranium sylvaticum ‘Mayflower’, and on the right is the Geranium sylvaticum ‘Album’ I showed you last Wednesday… pure white and very pretty!

When it gets very hot a potted Hydrangea bought in spring will find a cool spot nearby and if it weren’t for the mosquitoes (which are early and numerous!) I would be tempted to sit out there next to my clothes line and contemplate this shady oasis more often!

Do you have a favourite plant for the shade?

Here are some of the plants in this bed between late April and early June, including some of the Geraniums I have there, photographed especially for Eliza who also loves them in her garden! (This is an excellent way of keeping a record for myself, so forgive me for indulging!)

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