Exciting shade

Yesterday I had a meeting at ‘The Newt in Somerset‘, an exciting new garden and destination local to me. The garden opened two years ago but has continued to evolve with all sorts of exciting new areas to visit on this vast site.

Walking up the long winding board walk, I was struck by all the wonderful colours and textures in the woodland. It was a refreshing break from the computer!

One of my current jobs is to work on a sensory garden, which unusually is in shady site, so this walk through the woods was all the more stimulating!

The deciduous woodland along the entrance to gardens is enhanced with shade tolerant evergreens such as Lonicera nitida, Prunus laurocerassus, Prunus lusitanica, Taxus baccata and Quercus ilex. However in a garden setting there are many more to choose from including all of the Mahonia, Sarcococca, Aucuba japonica and Viburnum tinus.

All the different vegetation layers within the woodland create an immersive experience amplifying bird song and the sound of the wind. It is these layers which create a rich host of niches for wildlife of all sizes – a trick we can aim to emulate in our own gardens by creating a deep mulch layer, planting bulbs, short and taller herbaceous perennials, short and taller shrubs, climbers and then then trees.

Evergreen Carex pendula providing lots of year round texture

In addition to the evergreen under storey of the wood there were plants such as beech with their rustling juvenile foliage, Euonymus alatus with its corky winged twigs, Viburnum lantana and its emerging woolly leaves and the fresh green leaves of hawthorn.

Golden juvenile foliage of beech amongst evergeens
fresh green foliage of hawthorn

The ground was in places carpeted with the bright yellow flowers of Celandine, violets and wood anemone. In our gardens Pulmonaria, lily of the valley, ferns, Vinca, Begenia, Hellebores, snowdrops… all thrive and brighten a shady corner.

Then of course woodland and shady corners of the garden offer the opportunity for some drama and creativity…

Stumps, ferns, bulbs..