Bright colours possible in darkest corners of any garden

Torbay Weekly

During the admittedly brief interludes where there has been little or no rain this week, it’s been possible to reintroduce myself to the shaded parts of the garden that were inaccessible.

Not that they are flooded just yet, but the gaps during showers were that short I had to race back with a coat over my head.

Current apocalyptic conditions have made me fantasise about growing rice, cranberries and watercress.

The latter seems to be doing very well in the nearby swollen leats and streams.

When I did eventually manage a leisurely check on the far flung parts I was more than surprised to see that the red angelica (gigas) had grown to over 6ft in height and was towering over the other plants looking like it was delivering a sermon or a dressing down.

Looking around half scared, half pleased at this Triffid-like specimen, I was sure that last time I’d looked just a few days ago it was only at knee height.

Two years ago I decided to finally address what was a jungle of bindweed and brambles and turn it into a shade garden.

Like most gardeners, I like to have some colour all year round to maintain interest for the long winter months and to effectively keep the dementors at bay until spring arrives with the reliable bright cavalry of bulbs.

It is entirely possible to have bright colours even in the darkest corners of any garden. So much so that it’s possible to have a shaded display for every season.

Although many garden centres provide us with a homogenous variety of plants for each season, the more beautiful ones can often be found hiding under the canopy of long forgotten trees and shrubs.

Who doesn't like seeing a screaming pink or scarlet cyclamen in mid-December shouting from the leaf litter?

Not to mention the first flower to bloom in year, the hellebore. While we might take these for granted alongside primroses, primulas and wandering anemones, they are a more unusual and reliable source of colour that are not only shade tolerant, but they actually love it and can’t manage without it.

One of the most striking examples is the Imperial Fritillary with its strong, tall stems holding up deep yellow or saffron-coloured multiple bells underneath a pineapple-like green haircut.

Alongside the chequered purple Snakeshead Frittillary, they both offer sophisticated colour and patterns in late winter.

I'm hoping they are both a great example of how you can make even the more gothic plots bright and cheerful.

I accept many people quite like a bit of darkness in the garden but I’m not in that camp.

When summer arrives there are even more shady plants and shrubs available to make your heart skip a beat.

Gillenia Trifoliata offers a veil of speckled white stars in front of the colourful shrubs like Enkianthus campanulas, which is a particular favourite of mine thanks to its tiny Japanese bell-shaped yellow and amber profusion of flowers.

If bright colour really isn't your thing then there are different shades and textures of green from ground cover to greater heights.

I seem to have developed a bit of a love affair with tree ferns that seem to be doing much better than I was advised.

They do need to be kept moist by watering their roots hidden in the trunk and need to be fed in the summer.

You even need to wrap them up in winter to keep out the cold.

Despite all this, or because of it, I've grown to love them for the height and majesty of their 6ft fronds and the suspense of when their taught croziers will spring into action.

They've given the jungle of weeds an authentic jungle or rain forest look about it and I spend so much more time down there as a result.