A Shady Character


“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.


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…


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:





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!


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.


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….


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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