Exiles Forum

Lisburn, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland




 Gardening Choosing plants for a dry area

CHOOSING plants for dry shade can be a real problem, particularly for that problem area under a tree or on a bank. The quick and easy answer is to plant lots of spring flowering bulbs like Daffodils, Tulips, or Muscari, but once these have done their stuff you're left scratching your head wondering why you didn't spend a little more time watching Alan Titchmarsh on Friday night's Gardeners World instead of going out.

Help is at hand - why not put in a few Periwinkles (Vinca) into your dry shady corner? Evergreen, now in flower and almost indestructible, these will slowly spread, covering the whole area with green where once there was only brown. Contrasting with this is Lady's Mantle (Alchemilla Mollis), a bright green low grower with yellow flowers in Spring, blooming later than Vinca.

Now coming back to life, it's really worth having, especially as a contrast under Azaleas. The Alexandrian Laurel (Danae/Ruscus racemosa in Latin) is one of the only shrubs that will thrive in total shade. It has attractive yellow flowers and red berries.

Other names to look out for in the Garden Centre include Pachysandra, Cotoneaster horizontalis. Mahonia aquifolium, and Euphorbia. Foxgloves will thrive there too.

Don't forget to plant in odd numbers for effect. Three little plants might look good mixed between other shrubs when you're close up. but the same display through the kitchen window 30 feet away isn't so stunning. so plant in threes or fives.

As with all planting, use a little handful of Bonemeal or Sulphate of Phosphate when planting. Phosphate is the primary nutrient responsible for developing plants' roots.

On dry shade you will need a good root system to search for water. Don't just use ordinary Multipurpose compost for this job. Use Tub and Basket Compost as it's got special water retaining properties.

Get this done and your barren bank can be made into a beautiful border something not to be embarrassed about anymore.
by Clive Sullivan, Cameron Landscapes & Ballylesson Garden Centre

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