Creating a border in the shade with clay soil

  • 02 min read
  • 14 May 2024
Creating a border in the shade with clay soil

Creating a border in the shade with clay soil -

Nikki Hollier

It’s highly likely there is some level of shade in every garden – whether that’s caused by a fence, a neighbour’s garage or trees. Thankfully, there is a plant for every space, so here’s information and ideas on how to create a beautiful garden in a perceived tricky spot! According to the RHS (Royal Horticultural Society) there are six types of light/shade: 1. Full sun: More than six hours of direct sun per day at midsummer. 2. Light shade: A site that is open to the sky, but screened from direct sunlight by an obstacle, such as a high wall. 3. Partial or semi-shade: Three to six hours per day of direct sun at midsummer. 4. Dappled shade: Mainly reflected or diffused light, for example through open tree canopies all day. 5. Moderate shade: equates to two or three hours of direct sunlight each day at midsummer. 6. Deep or heavy shade: Receives less than two hours of direct sun per day.

The easiest way to work out where the shady spots are, is to simply look and watch the garden at certain points of the day and make a note of where the sun hits the ground. You can then plant the right plant in the right spot! So what plants are best for shade and grow in clay soil? Here are some of my favourite plants that look great together – a tall shrub, medium and short perennials to create a tiered effect which is easy on the eye. Shrub - Viburnum × carlcephalum – commonly known as a snowball tree. It’s a shrub that will grow in all soil types and in sun, part sun and shade. They grow to around 3m tall, so are ideal for small gardens that need a tree to add height. They have scented flowers each May with heart-shaped, dark green leaves, turning red in autumn. Perennial – Tiarella ‘Spring Symphony’ – commonly known as Foam Flower due to the small spires of blush white flowers from May to July. Ideal for the front of a border as they grow to around 25cm tall. The leaves are pretty too, which are green lobed with a dark centre.

Hosta ‘Francee’ Beautiful heart-shaped, olive green, puckered leaves with white margins. which blends with the flowers of the Tiarella. Grows to around 55cm tall. They are renowned for attracting slugs and snails, so adding copper rings around the base of the plant and checking the leaves regularly for signs of them will help to keep the plant healthy. Evergreen - Sarcococca hookeriana var. digyna ‘Purple Stem’ flowers from December to March. It’s an evergreen shrub with scented, pink-tinged flowers, which are followed by rounded blue-black fruit. Remember, when planting in clay soil, consider adding organic matter like composted bark or well-rotted manure to improve its texture and drainage.