Shade plants: great for a green and well-drained garden

Pavement or plants? If you have a shady garden, your first thought might be to use paving materials. But why do this when you can create a beautiful well-drained garden with shade plants?

Green and long-lived

If your garden receives no more than two hours of sun a day, you have a shade garden. If it gets around four hours of sun a day, it is called semi-shady. But did you know that certain plants will grow even in the darkest spot in your garden? Although plants require sunlight, many perennials can grow and thrive under low-light conditions. Some good examples are European Wild Ginger (Asarum), Japanese Spurge (Pachysandra) and ferns. These shade plants will feel right at home in a darker spot.

Combining shade plants with flowering perennials

Perennial foliage plants and flowering perennials can grow happily side by side in the shade. Siberian Bugloss (Brunnera macrophylla), Christmas Rose (Helleborus) and Yellow Wax-bells (Kirengeshoma) are just some of the flowering perennials that will thrive in a shady location. There are also many perennials that can easily tolerate both sun and shade. These include Leopard’s Bane (Doronicum orientale), Bleeding Heart (Dicentra) and Cranesbill (Geranium). And because they’re perennials, you will be enjoying them for years to come.

A well-drained garden

Using plants in your garden makes it not only beautiful but also improves its drainage after a heavy rain. A paved garden will often result in run-off and flooding after a downpour. This won’t happen in a green garden where rainwater can easily seep down among the plants and be absorbed into the soil. Even the leaves of the plants themselves catch some of the rainwater that will then evaporate. By including shade plants, even the shadiest garden can be made ‘rainproof’. So what are you waiting for?


  • Plants with white flowers or light-coloured leaves will brighten up a shady garden or border. They do this by reflecting the little light that there is. Why not make use of this effect?
  • Various herbs and edible plants such as winter purslane, ramsons and wasabi will also thrive in the shade.

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