Six on Saturday | In the Shade

Long-standing readers of this blog will know by now that I don’t have a proper front garden to my property. We are in a courtyard shared with four other neighbours and the only outside space is a granite ledge and steps to the front door. To make matters worse it is north-facing so receives no direct sunlight except during the very height of summer when the sun is high enough to reach the very edge of the ledge.

Not to be downhearted I have experimented over the years with various plants that can cope with these conditions in a container, though lots of ‘things’ self-seed in the granite cracks as can be seen in the header image. (Centranthus ruber in case you were wondering).

An Hydrangea petiolaris,  a climbing shrub, is perfect for a shady or north-facing wall. Though slow to get going it is now beginning to produce  huge, white lacecap-style hydrangea flowers. It clings to the wall by adventitious roots.

Climbing hydrangea, Hydrangea anomala subsp. petiolaris

I have a normal mop-head hydrangea which I pruned heavily this year so I am not expecting flowers, several Skimmia Japonica shrubs, a Heuchera, Hellebores and fuchsias and ferns. The ferns are looking very good this year. There are so many colours and shapes it is a shame they are not used more in gardens. Of course, this being Cornwall, they thrive here in the damp conditions.

And another plant that likes this side of the house is the popular Hakonechloa macra, pronounced Hack-on-ee-kl-oh-ah – Japanese forest grass and often referred to as Hak mac. Mine is ‘Aureola’ with elegant golden-yellow and green arching foliage which cascades down the steps.

Hakonechloa mac. ‘Aureola’

The greens are added to during the summer with pots of begonias and impatiens to add colour. And I am on the lookout for a rather lovely dark red hydrangea.

As always, if you want a peek over other people’s garden walls then please pop over to our host, the lovely Jon, AKA ‘The Propagator’ where you find links to many more wonderful garden enthusiasts from all over the world.

See here for the participant’s guide.

Six on Saturday


  1. susurrus says:

    What a fine climbing hydrangea. I’m ignorant about the names of grasses, but increasingly enjoy seeing them – your Hak mac looks great.

  2. Cathy says:

    I am with you on ferns, Jude 👍 Good to see the varied contents of your not-front-garden, all doing well by the look of them

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