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The Gardener's Year
30 Perennials for a dry and shady border
It's still too early to get cracking in the garden so we offer more thoughts on the forward planning your garden in Burgundy. In February Lucia Latenstein from Les Parterres en Kit looks at perennials for dry and shady borders with a woodland feel taking inspiration from the forests and hedgerows, not forgetting a look over the garden wall...
In the garden of my Burgundy house I have two beautiful and very characteristic old lime trees. In spring there is sufficient moisture and light under these big trees. In summer it is shady and dry. In the forests around here you will find Helleborus niger (Christmas rose), Vinca minor (Lesser Periwinkle), Lamium (Deadnettle), Anemone nemorosa (Wood Anemone), Arum italicum ‘Marmoratum’ (Lords and Ladies), Geranium (Cranesbill) and Polygonatum
Plants in your neighbourhood
Take note of the plants which thrive in your locality, along the verges, in the hedgerows and over the garden wall. In Voutenay, a village close by, I noticed Asplenium scolopendrium (hart’s-tongue fern), very close to the road, under the trees. Did someone plant them there? They look wonderful with their long shiny light-green leaves, even in winter.
And look at this picture: a carpet of Cyclamen hederifolium (ivy-leaved cyclamen or Snowbread) under the trees on an estate in Sainte-Pallaye (Yonne 89).
More plants for the dry and shady border
Plants that are doing very well under the limes: Brunnera macrophylla (False forget-me-not), Digitalis grandiflora (Yellow Foxglove), Hakonechloa macra (Japanese forest grass), Epimedium x rubrum (Red Barrenwort), Euphorbia amygdaloides var. robbiae (Wood spurge), Polystichum setiferum (Soft shield fern), Galium odoratum (Sweet woodruff) and Aruncus dioicus (Goat’s beard).
Last spring (2013) was very wet. Slugs left lots of holes in the leaves of my Hosta (plantain lily) and Kirengeshoma palmata (Yellow wax bells). Both are very strong plants, will survive the attacks of the slugs and come back next year. Hopefully next spring will not be so wet.
Some other plants that should be worth trying in a dry shady Burgundy border: Iris foetidissima (Stinking iris; flowers in winter when there is still enough light under the trees.), Dicentra formosa and Dicentra eximia (Bleeding heart), Silene dioica (Red campion), Onoclea sensibilis (Sensitive fern), Lunaria rediviva (Perennial honesty), Persicaria affinis ‘Superba’ (Knotweed), Teucrium chamaedrys ‘Nanum’ (Germander) and Symphytum azureum (Comfrey). Iris unguicularis (Algerian iris) and Lysimachia puntata (Yellow Loosestrife) will thrive (too) well in the dry shade: they are vigorous.
And of course there are many bulbs that will do very well under trees. They will flower in the spring before the leaves appear. Scillas, Bluebells, Daffodils, Snowdrops, etc. We will deal with them in September when it’s time to plant them.
From the top left:
Do you have favourite perennials for the Burgundy soil and climate? Please share them with me and the readers of this article. Questions are welcome too.
Next month: how to make a planting plan.