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Many of our gardens have that difficult spot where seemingly nothing will grow. One of the most awkward spots can be dry shade. Perhaps you have an area under deciduous trees where there is shade and the tree roots take up most of the water. Perhaps you have an area next to a wall where water is absorbed by the foundations. You may have an area under the eaves of a house where light and moisture are scarce. But never fear, there are a good selection of plants that will thrive in these conditions if they are watered initially until established. Below I have listed ten of my favourite plants for this situation.

Bergenia Abendglut

The large leathery leaves of this plant have led to it’s common name of Elephant’s Ears. A low maintenance, evergreen, short perennial that was a favourite of the great garden designer Gertrude Jekyll. As well as it’s beautiful spring flowers, this plant has bright maroon foliage in winter. This plant is pictured at the top of the article.

Liriope Muscari

Flowering from August to November, this is a very useful perennial. It’s grass-like leaves are attractive all-year-round. Lily-turf is a small plant that is great for edging a border beneath deciduous trees and shrubs.

Sarcococca Confusa

Sweet box is so called because of it’s deliciously scented flowers from December to March, and it’s evergreen foliage. This lovely shrub is perfect for a shady border or woodland garden. It is also tolerant of pollution.

Skimmia Japonica Reevesiana (Hermaphrodite)

This excellent, evergreen, compact shrub has the advantage over many other Skimmias in that it bears it’s lovely autumn berries without the need for another Skimmia to pollinate it. Red buds open to fragrant white flowers in spring.

Viburnum Tinus Eve Price

This wonderful, evergreen shrub is smaller than the original species. White flowers appear from pink buds December to April when many other plants are dormant. Blue/black berries follow in spring.

Vinca Minor Illumination

This delightful Periwinkle bears it’s lovely blue flowers from April to September. A low, evergreen, ground cover plant with striking variegation to brighten the dullest of spots.

Helleborus Harvington Double Pink

This gorgeous, semi-evergreen Lenten Rose bears it’s stunning, double blooms from February to April. One of my favourite winter flowering perennials. A compact height of around only 60cm or 2 feet.

Mahonia Soft Caress

Winner of “Plant of the Year” at RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2013, this is the first Mahonia to have spine-free leaves. This compact, evergreen shrub bears it’s bright flowers from August to October providing a long season of interest.

Epimedium Niveum

This ground-covering, perennial Barrenwort bears it’s tiny blooms in April and May. It’s heart shaped foliage becomes bronze-flushed in spring and autumn, adding further interest.

Geranium Rise And Shine

A beautiful, ground cover perennial that forms weed smothering mounds. Fantastic flowers adorn the plant from June to October above divided foliage.

To view these and many other plants for dry shade at Crocus click here

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Mark Snelling
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