BRIAN KIDD:Â A swathe of colour for deep shade underneathÂ a hedge
It can be difficult to choose plants which will survive in shade and in particular beneath a tall hedge where the roots are close to the top of the ground and there is little soil to cultivate.
One of the best spring-flowering bulbs areÂ hyacinths believe it or no. TheyÂ can be planted now for flowering next March.
If that's beyond your budgetÂ what about triteleias, also called ipheon?Â They'll make lots of leaves with little white flowers with pale blue lines. They're notÂ the sort of thing you would buy, but one someone else would be glad to get rid of!Â The point is, it will grow and be no trouble to you.
IfÂ hedge roots are close to the surface, chop some off with a stainless steel border spade and use the contents of old growing bags on top of the ground. Mix this into the area where some of the hedge roots have been cut off toÂ provide a bit more depth for the roots of other plants which will provide a mass of colour.
For a super spring showÂ you can'tÂ beat wallflowers but the variety isÂ important. Mixed isÂ fine, but hang on a minute, is the object to add lightness or a swathe of sunshine along the base of the hedge?
If this is the case, avoid mixed and find either Golden Bedder or Cloth of Gold. Believe meÂ they are super for the job. Planted eightÂ inches apart in three rows they will be wonderful next April. We'veÂ just planted ours.
This spring display can be followed by a summer spectacular.
Everyone knows how wonderful bedding begonias are in the summer and are one of the best display plants in shade. The truth is however, they do love water too and it may be a lot of work having to keep them moist because a hedge will try to pinch all the water available.
My point is that you don't have to rely on some boring rubbish when you have a wide choice.
For those with the same problem there are some perennials which will be really good in dry shade. OneÂ of these is the ladies' mantle which will be found as alchemilla. It will grow to 15inÂ high with a misty cloud of greenish-yellow flowers and a fan-shaped lea. If planted next to flag iris, the two really do contrast well. You won't get many flowers on the iris but the ladie's mantle will make up for that.
Campanula portenschlagiana might be difficult to remember but it'sÂ a common andÂ superb plant withÂ blue flowers all summer. It'sÂ still in bloom under our hedge at home.
For berries, what aboutÂ cotoneasters?Â They will grow on the moon if we could get them there and out of all the plantsÂ these are the most tolerant species ever grown. The types varyÂ but if it's needed for coveringÂ ground in poor soil under dense shade, two are really good. Autumn Fire is the smallest one with the largest leaf and it's onlyÂ 15inÂ high. The leaves look just like weeping willow leaves and there is the bonus of bright red berries. The round-leafed Coral Beauty has orange berries. Again it's short, ideal underneath that hedge.'‹'‹'‹'‹'‹'‹'‹'‹'‹'‹'‹'‹'‹'‹'‹'‹'‹'‹'‹'‹'‹
THIS WEEK'S TOP TIP
Garden centres haveÂ azaleas in pots. If you thinkÂ you'reÂ not green-fingered, think again. TheseÂ will do well in your home. ChooseÂ one withÂ just one or two flowers open with lots of buds to come.Â They loveÂ rain water. Keep them in a light, cold placeÂ just above freezing, in aÂ window but not direct sun.'‹'‹'‹'‹'‹'‹'‹