Spring in the shade

primroses and wild garlic
Primroses and self-sown wild garlic in the shade bed

In the distant north-west, Spring is hovering, oscillating beween damp, dreich days, spells of cold, wet, windy weather, with the odd gale thrown in for dramatic relief and rare calm sunny days. There is hardly a dandelion flower to light up the verge along the track to the vegetable garden and my gardens remain in a stubborn state of hibernation. A meander around the gardens produces little more than a few battered daffodils, some tired looking scillas and the odd clump of shredded foliage. Less I turn into a garden voyeur sighing over magnificent displays of spring flowers, I decided that there must be something in my garden to appreciate.

Areas of moist shade are a rare commodity in my garden, restricted to a narrow bed between the solar panels and the alpine house and a small raised bed at the end of the in-between garden. Over time I have added shredded bark to try to raise the pH of the soil to something mildly acidic and to increase the organic matter. The conditions in the shade bed are not ideal; some plants thrive, others tolerate it and the rest are short-lived. I’m still experimenting, and currently have an eclectic mix of hostas, paris, arums, erythoniums, primroses, ferns and arisaemas, plus a few snowdrops and a few gems such as Sanguinaria, Anemone ranunculoides and Haquetia.

The small raised bed was built specifically to house my small collection of arisaemas, so the soil is rich and moist. For variety it also includes a few bulbs, arums and small ferns and hostas. Ariaemas are not to everyone’s taste, but I like the architectual forms and variations in leaf and spathe shapes between the species.

I am intrigued by the shapes and quiet gren hues of these shade plants and particularly enjoy watching how the leaves unfurl and the emergence of a small discrete elegant flower. They are easy to overlook and usually eclipsed by the bright colours of the traditional spring melange of crocus, tulips and daffodils, but there should always be a place for a little cool verdure.

4 thoughts on “Spring in the shade

  1. Having some special plants in a separate bed certainly allows you to appreciate the details close up. Green is always a good colour (and is underrated!), and it is interesting to see some plants new to me as well.

    • For some reason I particularly like green and white flowers, they have a calming and soothing quality.

  2. Oh yes, some cool verdure is definitely worth having, especially if they include some of the little beauties you have. As you say, watching the emergence of these sorts of plants is a real joy, although because of their special bed you will have more chance of seeing this than in our garden, where I am more likely to be surprised by them when they are fully formed. Not that I have the same range of species you have (although very occasionally an erythronium puts in an appearance) – those arisaemas are really intriguing

    • I have always liked plants with interesting foliage and flowers. Ariaemas have a reputation for being difficult, but like most plants they just need the right conditions. What also intrigues me is that like arums, they produce brilliant red berries!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.