A Shady Character

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“If I had to choose between a sunny or a shady garden, I’d choose a shady garden every time.” This was the emphatic statement of one of my gardening heroines, Margery Fish, and i couldn’t agree more. Shade gardens are generally more atmospheric, have plants with better foliage although fewer flowers, and are more soothing to be in than any sunbaked plot I know of.

One of the best was open recently for the National Gardens Scheme on The Drive in Didsbury, so I went along to have a look.DSCN0432[1]

The first thing you notice is this beautiful circle of planting under the shade of a magnificent Magnolia soulangeana tree.

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And then, off to the side, this formal seating area with trickling water feature- designed , not so much for actual sitting, but to draw the eye and utilise what would be a dank unused space in most other gardens…

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Relatively common plants are repeated throughout this masterly shade garden to great effect. It just shows that putting plants together is both an art as well as a science ( right plant, right place). I love the detailed little collections of pots and artefacts that can be found throughout as here:

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And this is part of an old watermill wheel that Peter and Sarah bought and then had the vision to transform into a novel planter- they have such a good eye for detail.DSCN0416[1]

And for repurposing things such as this as a piece of sculpture in a border: DSCN0406[1]

And this old army van which is now the tool store, with a herb bed on the roof!

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Peter is from Yorkshire and admits to being tight with money- hence everything is picked up cheaply by scouring the internet for bargains- mostly Ebay and Gumtree. But cost is irrelevant here as the whole garden reeks of quality and expertise with open areas contrasting with the detailed set pieces.

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Everywhere you look there are intriguing paths that lead you on. I love a path to turn a corner- it appeals to our nosy natures, and we can’t resist exploring.DSCN0404[1]

And then our nosiness is rewarded by coming across this glamorous summerhouse, complete with chaise longue and Godin heater. It was all I could do to get the previous couple out of it so that I could have a good old nosy myself….

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All in all, a great garden where I didn’t even miss the flowers that i usually associate with  better gardens.And a real lesson in demonstrating that common but interesting foliage plants repeated can be just as effective as any blowsy flower scheme. Time to put away the pink dahlias maybe?

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