We’ve had a pond for a long time. It’s a shady pond, mostly, not more than a metre long. And as people seem to say there are no aquatic plants for shade, we had not really tried..
But last year we added a tiny water lily: Nymphaea pygmaea rubra. And this year it flowered. It’s a fine weather flower, it only opens when the sun shines.
June is without doubt the time for roses – Rosa ‘Compassion’ a winner for colour, scent and good to cover a fence or wall – and tolerates shade.
A shady garden needs a different approach. Forget expectations of hot colour and massed blooms. For a woodland scene, I like pretty foliage and delicate stems of tiny flowers – perfect for the shady corners of the garden. Saxifragaceae family gives lots of options. Here, Heuchera, probably ‘Palace Purple’ and Tellima grandiflora.
A classic clematis – Clematis montana ‘Tetrarose’ will bring colour and scent in early summer. But in bud – it brings a totally different sense of beauty.
When the first tiny Narcissus open their buds, we know that Spring is on the way. I’ve chosen Crocus tommasinianus to accompany them – they are equally early and dainty. Two colours that work perfectly together and signal sunshine on the way.
It came up in conversation that rose beds are not interesting in winter. But have you not heard of bulbs? They make the perfect underplanting for roses, because they appear when the roses are asleep and disappear again when the roses are ready to bloom. We should thank the brilliant garden designers at Capel Manor for this picture – they have placed clumps of blue Crocus and Iris reticulata throughout the rose garden – so there is colour throughout the borders during February and March.
And of course – everything is in bloom in summer..
Cornus are the choice for winter colour – and there are varieties of cornus with red, orange, green and purple stems. I found these at the Clockhouse Nursery: Cornus alba ‘Siberica’ and Cornus stolonifera ‘Flaviramea’ . Where to put them in the garden though? Bare stems don’t work very well against a wall or a fence. They show best against evergreens or against the sky – and the best place of all is a position where they can be reflected in water.
In Autumn we tend to we run out of flowers, and foliage takes centre stage. Sorbus ‘Joseph Rock’ makes a spectacular autumn feature for a small space. Here, it shines in the October sun at Capel Manor, making a startling contrast against the greenery behind. We love this for a small garden, because it’s a graceful tree, with interesting foliage, and the canopy won’t block too much light. That means you can use the space below for different plants that will provide colour earlier in the year.
While this blog is mostly about colour and scent in the garden, we love foliage as well for elegant contrasts of texture and colour. Anemanthele lessonia is the new name for Stipa arundinacea or Pheasant’s tail grass, a tidy, clumping grass with pretty stripes of orange throughout the summer, which will turn to gold as Autumn approaches.
As summer flowers finish and make space for the shrubs and grasses, it’s shapes that catch the eye – so placing spikey grasses amongst tidy domes of glossy shrubs is simple and just spectacular. The nice thing about Pheasant Grass is that it looks good whatever the colour of the shrub it sits next to.
The Saarphati Park in Amsterdam is like an English park in the sense that it follows the principle of Landscape Design. Within the park there are footpaths and streams, lawns and lakes and landmark features. In our first picture, you glimpse the classical temple, just out of view in the distance, right. A short walk further, and you see the feature close to.
Perennials work well in drifts – and the more the better. Rudbeckia fulgida var. Sullivantii ‘Goldsturm’ are so bold, they don’t need a contrasting colour to make them sing. They just stand there, in their thousands, as if to say “Hello, we’re here to make you smile”.