Make a Shady Rock Garden
Transform a dull, shady corner into a pretty rockery. Many shade-loving plants, such as ferns, ivies and violas, love the cool, moist, well-drained conditions.
When to Start: Fall
At Its Best: Spring
Time to Complete: 6 hours: preparation and planting
- topsoil (if not working on a sloping site)
- attractive large stones
- carpet bugle
- creeping phlox
- dog's-tooth violet (Erythronium)
- hardy ferns
Prepare the Soil
If you have a flat site, create a slope with weed-free topsoil in fall, so it has time to settle. If you have a slope already, weed it thoroughly. Dig in some grit if the drainage is poor.
Select and Place Stones
Set rocks into the soil, with larger ones at the base of the slope and smaller ones at the top. Bury one third of each stone, and angle them so that rain will run off into the soil.
Check Planting Positions
In spring, buy your plants. Arrange them around the rock garden while they are still in their pots, to see where they will look best, before deciding on their final planting positions.
Plant and Mulch
Plant in the pockets between the stones, then water well. Mulch with composted bark to help keep moisture sealed in and to suppress weeds. Water regularly for the first year.
Plant Versatile Ferns
Ferns are a wonderful choice for shady areas. They will grow in the tiniest of dank crevices, as long as they have enough moisture and a glimmer of light. Sunken pits echo the way ferns sometimes lodge themselves in subterranean drains and peer up from the gloom. You can also try growing them under a bench, where little else will thrive.
Plant Around Mesh-Covered Troughs
Ferns are ideal for these mesh-covered troughs, which were designed as a green car-parking bay.