I have talked about shade before. This garden has a lot of it, and it has confounded me for years. However once I reconciled myself to the gloom, I started finding ways of working in and with it. I worked the soil, digging in bags and bags of organic matter, and started selecting plants that would actually respond to a life in the shade. There is something really exhilarating about making adverse conditions work. Seeing things thrive after years of watching them wither and perish.

Between the small, dappled leaves of the Pulmonaria and the giant swaying Rodgersia, the fronds of ferns have uncurled and the leaves of the Cercidiphyllum seem to float in the air. The composition is punctuated by swaying stems of Tellima grandiflora which have emerged from their low-lying velvet clumps, and the grey-green leaves of the Thalictrum contrast beautifully with the Corylus, which has become clothed in purple. This makes me happy! When a planting scheme starts to look this good, it’s almost as though I know what I’m doing. Of course I don’t. Or rather, I didn’t when this was put together. But over the few years that this area has had to establish itself, I have moved things around, planted and re-planted, added and subtracted until suddenly in early Summer I notice that something has worked.


In the damper part of the shade garden I notice that the Meadowsweet, (Filipendula) I bought at a roadside stall in the Western Highlands ten years ago has actually flowered. I suspect that my neglect of this area over recent years has denied it sufficient light and moisture to really flourish, so the thinning of the evergreen above it earlier this year may have made a difference. Whatever the reason, I do like the contribution it is now able to make to this part of the garden, and have resolved to harvest its seed later in the year and increase its population.




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