What’s right for light and shade

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THE first tinges of green are showing on the weeping willows beside Lake Burley Griffin and soon all deciduous trees will be coming into leaf with many presenting us first with a stunning array of floral splendour.

Older gardens will have a generous amount of summer shade with many plants now in too much shade. This is an ideal time to move them into partial shade or full sun depending on the variety. I have just relocated a group of peonies from a dense shady area to a sunny area, of which they prefer.

Shade can manifest itself in a number of other ways besides trees. It may be due to a building casting shade, at times brought about by that single-storey house next door adding another storey. Or, horror of horrors, a block of units rise next door and suddenly your whole garden is in shade. This, in turn, can cause a rain shadow presenting further problems.

It is also forgotten how much shade is cast by overhanging eaves. With the summer sun directly overhead, the part of the garden close to the house will be in shade for a good part of the day, and it will get no rain. This is an important area that cannot be fixed by watering. I recommend you do not plant any closer than half a metre from the house under the eaves.

IF you are buying a property and you enjoy your garden, it is vital you take into account several factors: are there large trees that could present problems? Trees near power lines, over underground services (ie sewer, power, gas etcetera) need to be considered.

Do some research on these aspects, as it can be expensive to carry out large-scale pruning or even removing trees, especially in many cases of smaller blocks these days where there is no access to the rear garden.

MOST bulbs prefer full sun, originating in the hottest areas of the world. Tulips do not come from Holland, but originate in Turkey and Turkestan, both very hot places.

They do not like too much shade and will not flower well if in dense shade such as evergreen trees. Under deciduous trees, spring bulbs have generally finished flowering before trees are in full leaf.

WHAT plant will revel in a shady garden? For starters, shade-loving plants like a good natural mulch and what better than fallen autumn leaves rotting away? Most shade-loving plants are acid lovers, often originating in forests and woodlands. Generally speaking, Australian plants prefer full sun. Tree ferns are an exception and one only has to look at them growing in the shade on the Clyde Mountain.

For more specific information of growing tree ferns and acid-loving plants, refer to my Cedfacts Garden Information Sheets at www.cedricbryant.com

TALL, shade-loving plants include Camellia japonica, (the winter-flowering Camellia sasanqua will tolerate full sun). Daphne, rhododendrons, azaleas and Pieris or Pearl Bush are also ideal. So too Hydrangeas, Fatsia japonica and Sarcococca or sweet box, which is a real winner for its wonderful fragrant flowers.

Suitable ground-cover plants include Euonymous “Gaiety” with green marbled leaves and E. “Emerald and Gold”, with its deep-yellow leaves, provide a lift in deep shade.

Winter-flowering Bergenia cordifolia, Cyclamen hederifolium and Viola labradorica along with the wonderful range of hellebores will give plenty of colour.

The list is endless so there is no need to get depressed if, all of a sudden, the garden is ever enveloped in shade.

Things to consider

  • Do not get carried away about about the house when buying, do take a serious look at the garden.

  • When buying a house check where services are. It could save you big money later.

  • Think about moving sun-loving plants presently in deep shade and vice versa.

  • Prune winter-flowering shrubs once the flowers have finished.

  • Consider if a house has rear access before you buy it.

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Cedric Bryant
Trained horticulturist and garden designer with over 30 years experience in the industry.

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