Best Way to Brighten Awkward Corners in Your Garden

Few gardens do not have a difficult corner; perhaps cold and draughty, shaded for most of the day, or where the soil is cold and wet. Fortunately, many plants survive – even thrive – in these places. Here are a few quick and easy ways to brighten awkward corners.

There is no substitute for brilliantly colored flowers when it comes to brightening up an awkward corner. Some clematis will do surprisingly well in adverse conditions.

Enlivening shady areas

The choice of shade-loving plants is wide; some will grow in the usually dry soil under trees, while others need more moisture.

Awkward Corners in Garden 1 Best Way to Brighten Awkward Corners in Your Garden

Beneath trees

  • Euphorbia amygdaloides robbiae: A ground-covering perennial, about 30cm high, with pale yellow-green bracts in clusters during early and mid-summer.
  • Prunus laurocerasus ‘Otto Luyken’ (cherry laurel): Evergreen shrub, 1.2-1.5m high and spreading to 1.8m (6ft); upright candles of white flowers during mid- and late summer.
  • Ruscus aculeatus (butcher’s broom): Evergreen shrub, about 75cm high and wide, with distinctive, spine-tipped leaves and sealing-wax red berries. Needs some moisture to thrive.
  • Tellima grandiflora: Evergreen perennial, 45-60cm high and with a similar spread, with bright green, maple-like leaves and green-yellow, bell-shaped flowers during late spring and early summer.

Ground-covering plants for shade

  • Ajuga reptans (bugle): Herbaceous perennial, about 25cm high and spreading to 45cm, with whorls of blue flowers on upright shoots during early and mid-summer.
  • Alchemilla mollis (lady’s mantle): Herbaceous perennial, about 38cm (15m) high and wide, with light green, hairy leaves and clusters of yellow-green flowers throughout summer.
  • Lamium galeobdolon ‘Florentinum’ (earlier known as L.g. ‘Variegatum’): Perennial, 15-30cm high and spreading to about 45cm, with silver-flushed evergreen leaves and spikes of yellow flowers during early and mid-summer.

Ferns for shady and moist corners

Hardy ferns are superb for livening shaded areas. They are also ideal for planting in shaded places around garden ponds.

Awkward Corners in Garden Best Way to Brighten Awkward Corners in Your Garden

  • Asplenium scolopendrium (hart’s-tongue): Evergreen, up to 60cm (2ft) high and spreading to 50cm, with bright green, upright, tongue-like leaves. Several forms have fronds with cristate edges and tips.
  • Matteuccia struthiopteris (ostrich feather fern): In spring it develops a rosette of fronds that resemble a large shuttle-cock. It is large, up to 1.2m (4ft) high and 60-9ocm (2—3ft) wide.

Surviving strong sunlight

Hot, unshaded corners test all plants, but those native to warm, sunny areas have the ability to flourish. They usually have white or hairy leaves, or are covered in oily glands that help insulate them from high temperatures. Here are two groups of plants that not only grow in hotspots, but thrive.

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