A shaded path

Sunday, 19 April 2020

Thanks very much to those who have given positive feedback about my garden videos! I have enjoyed making them and this week I reshot the very first video I did, of a shaded path, which was to send to a friend who had sent me a video of her garden. Mine to her was to suggest some possible plants I could propagate for her for shadier parts of her garden. I can report that this weekend, I was able to leave a box of some of these plants hidden at the top of my long battle-axe driveway for her to collect as she passed by on her daily walk! I am rather enjoying some of the surreptitious exchanges between friends and neighbours that are occurring of things left in letterboxes and on front porches in these strange, surreal times!

As well as the video about this path, this week I am going to write a few thoughts about the plantings shown in it. The border along this path is on the western side of my garden, and is shaded by a huge old conifer and three Camellia sasanqua 'Setsuggeka', which are around 23 years old. They are in full bloom now, and their petals drop to form a pretty carpet along the path. Rainbow lorikeets go mad for the flowers, and can be heard in the video!

Plectranthus zuluensis with Justicia carnea

The soil is quite dry in this border now, so I have chosen plants that can cope with this situation. Irrigation is via a dripper, run twice a week for 50 minutes during dry times. Some of the best shrubby perennials for dry shade include Plectranthus species and cultivars. I have the unusual Plectranthus zuluensis in the border - it flowers much longer than other species: from November to June, if the spent flowers are nipped off after each flush. The blooms are a soft powdery blue colour, and it really is a worthwhile plant to grow in dry shade. Other Plectranthus here include the white and purple versions of the small shrubby Cape Angels series. A groundcover, Plectranthus 'Nico', which was apparently developed from Plectranthus ambiguus, another gorgeous plant that is in bloom now. However, in appearance it resembles a superior version of Plectranthus ciliatus. Like that plant, it has an autumn veil of long spires of dainty lilac-tinged flowers across its purple-veined and purple-backed foliage; however, its leaves are larger and more textured, and the veins are more pronounced. It is just as tough and will grow in the most uncongenial shady places, and can form a dense, weed-suppressing carpet under trees or shrubs, or can cascade over retaining walls. It is stunning when in full bloom.

Tradescantia zebrina

Another good genus for dry shade is Begonia. Along the path, I have some cane Begonia specimens growing, and there are also some coloured-leaf forms of the rhizomatous groundcover ones. These are excellent fillers and have dainty pink or white flowers in spring, plus delightful leaves of many different shapes, colours and textures. There are so many beautiful forms, and if a few different types are grown together, they make an effective foliage tapestry. Another good groundcover I have used a lot in this garden border is Tradescantia. Three different species are shown: the deep purple Tradescantia pallida 'Purpurea', silvery Tradescantia sillamontana and stripy Tradescantia zebrina. They have very shallow root systems, thus coping well with dry shade. And yes, they are relatives of the dreaded wandering jew weed, but they are not anything like as wicked as it, and are easy to pull up if there is too much of them!

Strobilanthes dyeriana

Other plants that seem to have shallow roots systems and hence cope well with the conditions here are members of the Acanthaceae family. The video shows Strobilanthes dyeriana, the so-called Persian shield, which is looking very vibrant at the moment with its sheeny silver, purple and green foliage; but also in this border I grow goldfussia (Strobilanthes persicifolia), blue sage bush (Eranthemum pulchellum), polka-dot plant (Hypoestes phyllostachya), Chinese rain bell (Strobilanthes cusia), pink Justicia carnea and magenta plant (Peristrophe bivalvis) - all Acanthaceae plants that give flowers in different seasons.

Bromeliads are always a handy solution in dry shade (the one highlighted in the video is Aechmea fasciata, an excellent species with a very long-lived pink inflorescence), as is the foliage plant shown at the start of the video: Ctenanthe setosa 'Grey Star', a rhizomatous perennial that creates a robust clump right next to the big conifer tree. The Spanish moss that hangs in the sasanqua trees is a type of bromeliad: Tillandsia usneoides, and it just multiplies happily wherever it is placed. I particularly like seeing it when it is backlit by the afternoon sun.

Clerodendrum wallichii

I always enjoy walking along this path on my daily trek to the bins (seen briefly in the background in the video; sorry!). At the moment, I am rewarded by the sight of the lovely flowers of Clerodendrum wallichii, with its racemes of white, butterfly-like blooms. The dark leaves of the nearby elephant ears plant (Colocasia 'Black Magic') provide a dramatic background for it. Anyway, I hope you enjoy wandering along my shaded path with me this week!


Plant of the week
Flowers in February, March, April, May.
See everything that's out this month »

My previous blogs at this time of year:
2009
18 Apr
2010
18 Apr
2012
22 Apr
2013
21 Apr
2014
13 Apr
2015
19 Apr
2017
16 Apr
2019
14 Apr

Reader Comments

  • By Norman - 2653 (Zone:8-9 - Cool Temperate to Alpine) Monday, 20 April 2020

    thank you for the videos - I could listen to you talking all day. Norman! How kind you are! Deirdre

  • By Lindy - 2093 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 20 April 2020

    Love your videos! Youre going to have to start an online plant nursery soon!! There are a heap of those shade plants of yours that I would love to have in my garden! I came across a plant last week that I cant identify. Can you recommend a plant identification list I can use, please? Or else I could send you a picture? Thanks for sending the photo. Hope the cuttings strike OK! Deirdre

  • By Jim - 2076 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 20 April 2020

    Great vid thanks Deidre. We have many of the same plants and it is good to see how you have combined them. Strobilanthes dyeriana (Persian Shield) is looking stunning at the moment. Isn"t it a great plant! It seems particularly lush this year after all the rain we had in February. Deirdre

  • By Maureen - 2118 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 20 April 2020

    What a lovely ramble with you Deidre especially accompanied by your visiting Lorikeet. Great to freshen up on the names of plants I too have but the names of which I have long forgotten!! I was madly writing down names while watching - that will teach me next time to READ your post through first!!! I first fell in love with that Persian Shield when visiting Tropical Breeze Garden years ago. I have struck several pieces of late as mine is huge and am replanting elsewhere and sharing also. It really is a gorgeous plant. I have put it a few other spots too. Deirdre

  • By Glennis - 2122 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 20 April 2020

    Thanks Deidre, love the videos. It is funny that just before I opened your email / blog I looked up a plant I had bought (Asystasia salicifolia) on the internet and I was taken direct to your iGarden website to be shown a photo and informed that it was suitable for dry shade so now I know where to plant it - thank you. That"s great, Glennis! It is a nice little plant. Deirdre

  • By Maree - 2074 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 20 April 2020

    So interesting to see so many dry shade plants. Sets your mind thinking about what one can do. Yes there really are quite a lot of suitable plants for these conditions! Deirdre

  • By Sue - 2074 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 20 April 2020

    A helpful blog for the most tricky part of a garden - dry shade. Nice to see your plant combinations which go together nicely. Thanks for the tour - have enjoyed them all. Thanks so much, Sue. Deirdre

  • By Greg - 2299 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 20 April 2020

    I"m loving these videos. Great to see content from our side of the world. Thank you so much! Thanks so much for your positive feedback, Greg. Deirdre

  • By Gaynor - 5044 (Zone:10 - Mediteranean) Monday, 20 April 2020

    I also have a stretch of dry shade - don"t we all? It is interesting to see what you have chosen to plant there. Thank you so much for the videos. I planted Euphorbia "diamond dazzler", some small red begonias and the NZ rock lily (name?). There are many different solutions and all beautiful. Mine seems to be doing quite well, which is fortunate since I have no reason to go to that part of the garden except to add water and I often forget. Yes that euphorbia is a good one for dry shade. The NZ rock lily is Arthropodium - it is wonderful in dry shade and has such pretty flowers in spring. And I love all begonias! Deirdre

  • By Pamela - 2158 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Tuesday, 21 April 2020

    Oh please keep these videos coming Deirdre. I am loving seeing all the plants I grow in my own garden growing in the beautiful combinations you have created in yours. Also a wonderful way to correctly identify the ever increasing Plectranthus family Im collecting, hard to remember them all. We are so lucky in Sydney to have an amazing number of plants flowering at this time but right foliage combos take the garden to another level. LOVE LOVE LOVE ! Thanks so much for your enthusiasm, Pamela! I do think autumn is the best time of year in Sydney gardens. But I agree, foliage is so important for all-year interest. Deirdre

  • By Angela - 6073 (Zone:10 - Mediteranean) Tuesday, 21 April 2020

    Loved this, and loved your colour combinations! I have a lot of dry shade under gum trees in my Perth hills garden and wonder if begonia and bromeliads will survive there? What do think? Ive got some pots of Clivea and some succulents under the trees and they are happy. I think those plants should do OK. I generally put a bit of compost on top of the soil to plant into as I do not really dig into the soil under big trees so I don"t interfere with the roots systems. Use of pots under trees is a good alternative. Deirdre

  • By Patricia - 2100 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Wednesday, 22 April 2020

    A lovely garden stroll..thank you again Deirdre eclectus. So helpful to have your video followed by your meticulous script giving the plant identifications. Such a repository of plant knowledge. Have you ever thought of a name change for yourself? They say small things amuse small minds...so many variations in the spelling of your name! Whatever happened to that old spelling rule of i before e except after c? Needs an upgrade to include after d as well. And then throw in an extra r. Yes there are lots of spelling variations but I am too used to my name to want to change it! As a child, though, I wished I had been called Anne or Susan! Deirdre

  • By Margaret - 2122 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Wednesday, 22 April 2020

    Thank you for your blog and accompanying video, a bonus, and a pleasure to be reminded of all your choices for the shade garden. Many of the plants also live in my garden, but still others to obtain. Ctenanthe varieties are favourites of mine. However, I smile when Ctenanthe "grey"star" is mentioned, as it was the bane of the volunteers, working in the RBG begonia gardens, as it grew wildly through the plants and was hard to eradicate. Thanks for your thoughts on Ctenanthe, echoed by the next comment. It has really made me think about this plant. The yellow and green one is definitely a horrible thug and I eventually did get rid of it, never to plant it again. "Grey Star" I have only ever used in really difficult, dry shade but when I went to look closely at the plants, I can see they are really verging on invasive even in such hostile conditions. I find "Grey Star" easier to remove than the other one but I do take your point and will make a note on my Plant Reference about both these species. The much smaller one, "Oppenheimer", I don"t find to be a problem. Thanks! Deirdre

  • By Adelina - 2477 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Thursday, 23 April 2020

    Love the video and I love most all of the plants that you have highlighted, but if I can make one comment re the Ctenanthe. I have found this plant to be an absolute garden thug, growing very quickly and taking over a bed. Its rhizomes do go down rather deeply and are almost impossible to pull out and it take a long time to get rid of it out of a bed. I live in the Northern Rivers area of NSW, our climate is sub-tropical and many people with whom I speak are of the same opinion. Thanks so much for your comment, which was also made by Margaret, above. I really do take the point from you both that these should not really be recommended and I will update my Plant Reference to reflect this. Certainly I found the green and yellow one to be incredibly difficult to remove. "Grey Star" seems to grow closer to the surface but it is quite rampageous now that I look closely at my patches of it! Thanks. Deirdre

  • By Valerie - 2121 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Thursday, 23 April 2020

    Thanks for another lovely stroll through your garden. Thanks too for identifying the Strobilanthes Persian Shield and the Irisene. I have grown them from a cuttings without knowing what they were. They are looking very attractive at the moment. I like the look of Plectranthus zuluensis with Tradescantia zebrina. Is it possible to buy the Plectranthus zuluensis from a nursery? Maybe someone at the next Cottage Garden meeting in Epping will have one.Thanks, Valerie. I don"t know where to recommend to buy that Plectranthus. Mine came as a cutting from a friend. You could try the Plant Share facility on this website to see if another member might have a cutting to share. But yes, the Cottage Garden Club might be a good possibility - perhaps from Nancy"s stall. Deirdre

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