THE narrow shady border needn’t be the area of the garden that is deemed more of a problem than an asset, writes TOM ATTWOOD. There are a large number of us who have a section of garden that is either dominated by the house or building we live in, a dividing fence or perhaps the neighbourly sticking point of the dominating evergreen hedge. Either way, if this creates the effect of shade, light or heavy for a significant proportion of the day then the choice of plants has to follow suit. The first thing to avoid is any attempt to include lawn as unless you have the time and patience to nurture this in conditions that are certainly not ideal then you can end up with half dead or at the very least a highly disappointing strip of vegetation. Better to either widen the border and have an alternative surface running alongside it such as gravel. When it comes to selecting the plants and you’d appreciate a guide then arm yourself with a book that is geared towards woodland planting or plants for shade. I like books that focus on a woodland planting scenario. I think this creates a more positive and creative energy in your thought process and how you view the area to plant. Many of the plants listed would flower earlier in the season like pulmonaria, brunnera, myosotis (forget-me-not) oomphalodes and primula unlike our larger cottage garden plants such as lupins that tend to start flowering from June onwards. At the end of the season there is a final flurry of flowering delivered by plants like Japanese anenomes. In between these two stages the planting will be dominated by leaf colour, texture and form which is the main attraction for me of shade loving plants. Reliance on flowering alone, whatever the scenario, is fine but can be difficult to achieve. This is when hardy ferns, lamprocampnos (formerly known as dicentra), hostas, periwinkle (vinca), brunnera, ivy and epimedium are invaluable and will complement the conditions you have perfectly.

Next week: growing rambling roses up trees