Below: Create a lovely garden bed that’s low on maintenance and brimming with style. Start by improving the soil, then select a fail-safe selection of shade-loving plants.
Shades of success
You can create a verdant oasis in a garden bed or small courtyard that isn’t blessed with hours of sunshine simply by following these golden rules.
• Improve the soil by forking though generous amounts of compost and cow manure – you can buy these in bags or in bulk. Where the soil is heavy clay, spread gypsum over the surface and dig through.
• Work with the site you have and make the most of it. This means choosing the right plants that thrive in lower light levels – there are lots of them! Ferns, bromeliads and many species sold as indoor plants are a fabulous starting point.
• Use feature containers. Many shade-loving plants are lowergrowing understorey species so, by including pots and planters, you can give your garden height, regardless of the plants you select.
• Install a water feature, as this makes an excellent focal point, adding movement and excitement to a garden. In small courtyards, this will also help distract from the limited size of the area.
• Plant an overstorey where the shade is unreliable. Strange though it sounds, some shaded spaces go through a period when they’re exposed to direct scorching sunlight – and this can burn the delicate plants you’ve chosen. So in these spots, plant a few canopy plants to protect the ones below.
Once you transform that previously dreary space, add a sitting spot to enjoy the view. A simple bench and a few throw cushions are all you need.