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Shady, North-facing and Cool Gardens

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Most people think shady places are cool and suit plants that like cool conditions. However, many shady places are in hot sunny areas, prone to drying winds. This page offers advice for cool north facing gardens.

The best wild flowers for cool, north facing gardens are woodland plants and species with white flowers which will enliven dark and often damp places. Even in a small shaded urban basement you can have drifts of Oxeye Daisy whose seed heads will reach up towards the sun. Chose Hedge Stitchwort for its lovely star shaped flowers. It is a creeping species which forms a cushion and can be planted at the base of hedges or shade loving shrubs such as Hydrangea. For large gardens use Sweet Woodruff.

Bluebells in pots or drifts will really launch the summer flowering season. Follow these by Red Campion. Violas which will spread through cracks in the paving. Between the roots of trees will follow Primroses, which grow in the same situation.

Mulching will help in such situations and well laid mulches are long lasting. Into the mulches sow Wild Poppy, Wood Avens and the cultivated form of Trollius europaeus "Globe flower" (a woodland buttercup now a protected species in Ireland). When you are down at the garden centre buying a Trollius, you can also pick up a few clematis and shade loving honeysuckle. For the larger areas the rampant Clematis vitalba - "travellers joy / old mans beard" would be suitable and its fluffy white seed head comes into its own in November. 

Ferns are an ideal species for a shaded north facing situation. While as yet I don't grow many myself because my garden still lacks the additional shelter required for ferns, I do recommend them if you have the right spot. Ferns will grow very well in a mulch of bark. There are many native species of Irish ferns and cultivated forms are available from garden centres. 

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Foxgloves and Primroses are available as plants from DBN. Check out our woodland & hedgerow mixtures. 
Primroses once established can be divided and replanted as for garden Primula. Primroses are slow to grow from seed, often emerging two years after sowing. However, once they get established, they will spread rapidly.   

 

 

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