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The Gardener's Year

february

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...

Plants of the forest

Solomon's SealIn 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
multiflorum (Solomon’s Seal) shown right.

Plants in your neighbourhood

Sainte-Pallaye in Burgundy, Cyclamen  hederifolium -  SnowbreadTake 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:

Plants for a dry and shady border

English name

Anemone blanda

Winter windflower

15 cm

3-4

Arum italicum

Lords and Ladies

30 cm

4-5

Aruncus dioicus

Goat's beard

150 cm

6-8

Asplenium scolopendrium

Hart's tongue fern

50 cm

Aster divaricatus

White wood aster

60 cm

6-8

Bergenia varieties

Elephant's ears

40 cm

4-5

Brunnera macrophylla

False forget-me-not

40 cm

4-5

Cyclamen hederifolium

Ivy-leaved cyclamen

15 cm

8-9

Dicentra eximia and Dicentra Formosa

Bleeding heart

20 cm

5-9

Digitalis grandiflora

Large yellow Foxglove

80 cm

7-8

Epimedium x rubrum

Red barrenwort

25 cm

4-5

Euphorbia amygdaloides var. robbiae

Mrs Robb's bonnet

40 cm

7-8

Galium odoratum

Sweet woodruff

25 cm

5-6

Geranium macrorrhizum

Cranesbill

30 cm

6-7

Geranium phaeum 'Album'

Dusky cranesbill 'Album'

60 cm

5-8

Hakonechloa macra

Japanese forest grass

30

8-10

Helleborus orientalis

Christmas rose

50 cm

2-4

Hosta fortunei 'Halcyon'

Plantain lily 'Halcyon'

35 cm

7-8

Iris foetidissima

Stinking iris

60 cm

6-7

Kirengeshoma palmata

Yellow wax-bells

75 cm

8-9

Lamium orvala

Deadnettle

50 cm

5-6

Lunaria rediviva

Perennial honesty

100 cm

4-5

Onoclea sensibilis

Sensitive fern

50 cm

Persicaria affinis 'Superba'

Knotweed 'Superba'

25 cm

8-10

Polygonatum multiflorum

Solomon's Seal

60 cm

5-6

Polystichum setiferum

Soft shield fern

40 cm

Silene dioica

Red campion

70 cm

5-8

Symphytum azureum

Comfrey

50 cm

4-5

Teucrium chamaedrys 'Nanum'

Germander

26

6-9

Vinca  minor

Lesser periwinkle

15 cm

4-5

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.

Les Parterres en Kit Burgundy ©Lucia Latenstein
Hameau de Fontenille
19, Rue du Ponceau
89660 BROSSES
+33(0) 386 18 19 44 +33(0) 6 4015 4793
plantes@lesparterresenkit.fr