A Guide To Shade Gardening & Shade Garden Plants

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Hello, I'm Katherine Crouch, BBC Gardener of The Decade.

Today I'm going to show you how to plant up a North facing border on this slightly unpromising patch of ground here.

But don't worry, by the end of the day it is going to look gorgeous! Looking at the weeds here, there is nothing to serious.

A few Dandelions, a bit of Hairy Bitter Cress.

But nothing truly awful like Ground Elder or Bind Weed.

So let's grab a fork and get cracking! If we had planned this a month ago we could have sprayed all this lot off and just turned over the soil but life's not like that so we've stripped off the top two inches.

Don't throw this sway, this is the most fertile soil in your garden, put it on the compost heap.

When you are sorting out the weeds and the moss from the turf and the soil You can use a springtime rake a bit like a small sieve to get everything shaken out and into the wheelbarrow.

If you only have a small amount of weeds and moss on the surface of your soil you can strike it off using the Dutch Hoe.

It is also a useful tool for awkward corners to scrape out weeds.

Right, now we have cleared the top surface of weeds I'm going to use the garden spade to get as deep as I can to turn the soil over and get some air into the soil.

As you can see it is turning over and bringing to the surface some slightly poorer quality soil.

See how pale that is? But there is still a good texture and once we've added some compost this will be absolutely fine as a growing medium.

Now another useful tool and one I like using is the cultivator.

It is great for knocking these lumps into submission and going through them like that.

This is much better than using a rake because a rake, when the soil is like this, tends to pull all of the soil towards you.

We just want to break them up.

You have got to work through until you have got a nice crumbly tilf ready for planting.

Now you can see how the soil that we have turned up, although it is a lovely texture, it is a little bit pale.

So we will be adding some compost to enrich the soil.

If the poor plants have to be in a position with not much light and not much water, the least we can do is give them a good start in life with some good feed.

Once you have gone over the soil with the cultivator or fork, then you can use your rake to get that top level nicely broken down and pick out the odd stone.

Get any weeds, roots and pieces you don't want out of the way.

Ok we have spent most of the day preparing the soil and as you can see, this end of the border has turned over quite nicely, good tilf.

By the time we have got up by the house, it is really a bit claggy in this part and gritty in the back part.

We could spend another few hours really getting it up to speed but what we'll do is we'll put the lions share of the compost in this part of the border give it a good stir in and it will be fine.

First of all, I'm going to spread some general fertiliser on.

This will give those plants a flying start in life.

2 Kilos will be ample for this area, I'm just going to fling it on.

Ok, let's get some compost on this border.

So here's the result of four hours hard digging, raking, composting and cultivating.

One garden in the shade, ready to plant.

As you can see, now the afternoon has worn on, this end of the border behind me is in full sunshine.

Don't forget, in the winter this will have no sunshine atall so it is still a shade planting.

Although the things that need a little bit more light we'll put this end of the border.

Plants that can tollerate total shade will go in the far end of the border.

Now for the fun bit! I bought this selection of plants with me.

I know all these will tollerate the conditions that we are putting them in, we are going for a lovely gold and white and green theme.

I'm going to start at this end with the larger plants, this first section is what I call the chorus line.

Our first plant is Aucuba Japonica Verigatta, the Spotty Laurrell.

It is a tough and leafy evergreen that will tollerate any amount of shade once established.

These can get to a good size, I'll show you a bigger one later, but you can prune it.

Placed here it will disguise that man hole cover as you walk up the path.

This will fill up the borders quite nicely.

It won't be very long before we are a wash with all the lilly of the valley.

Everything will be coming up, the acer will get quite tall.

The Laurrell will also bush out.

But at the moment we can fill up the spaces using light cover bedding plants.

An awful lot of bedding plants really prefer full sun, but there are some that will take the shade.

Now turn your plants out of the pot, this ones so tough that I can grab it by the hair and out it comes.

Can you see how it is really quite root bound, there is a lot of congestion of the roots there.

You can use your fork to tease out some of these roots to give it a better chance of making it out into the newly prepared juicy, fertilised and composted soil.

That will grow away absolutely fine.

Can you see how already it is rooting when it touches the ground.

That will spread in a really lovely matt that will flower for quite a long season.

This Huschera is in lovely condition, look at that, plenty of rootgoing all the way around the pot.

It has a solid root ball, but you can still see plenty of the compost, it's not completely root bound.

I'll just pop this straight into the soil, no need to tease it out.

Now for the planting depth, because we fluffed up the soil it will settle once the rains come and we water it in.

So I suggest that you plant just a little bit deeper than it was in it's pot and firm it in nicely.

We are going to give everything a watering once we have finished all the planting.

That's about right, lets put the soild back in.

Firm it in so the root ball has good contact with the soil.

No need to stamp on it and set it in concrete.

From a bare patch this morning we have now gone to the end of the day with all our plants in.

Now we have got to give them a good water, even if you soil is damp give it a good watering because this settles the soil around the roots to ensure that they have good contact and grow away into nice comfortable, moist, composted, fertilised soil.

I hope we'll be able to come back here in the summer, I think you'll be amazed at how fast things will grow now they have been established and given a really good start in life.

These tools I have used today for our shade garden project are from the Somerset Collection from Silverline Tools.

For more garden projects and videos, visit silverlinetools.


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