Every garden has shady areas. In most cases such areas can be turned into beautiful, cool and refreshing shade gardens, away from the summer heat, with a delightful mixture of textures, shades of green, and maybe a bench, piece of art, or water feature. There is also a range of flowering shrubs that tolerate shade, and it is generally best to select shrubs with white or light flower colours to brighten up dark areas.
The area shown in the photograph is an area that receives very little sunlight. Plantings are shaded from the morning sun by the trees on the left. Much of the available light during the remainder of the day is intercepted by a very large evergreen tree to the right of the illustrated area.
Here the scene is brightened up with a row of Hydrangea quercifolia (Oakleaf Hydrangea) on the left. An informal path of recycled bricks to match the ones used in the adjacent area, is lined with Liriope muscari (Lily turf). Some of the existing Agapanthus plants are left. Although Agapanthus will grow reasonably well in the shade, they will not produce many flowers. The brightly coloured flowers in the background belong to Astilbe (False Spiraea). Hostas line the foreground. Other plants suitable for shade gardens are Aucuba japonica (Japanese Laurel), Dicentra (Bleeding Heart), and ground covers such as Ajuga reptans (Bugleweed) and Pulmonaria (Lungwort).
If the shade in your garden is caused by a large tree, then fertilisation and regular watering may be required depending on the plants selected. Some plants (e.g. Liriope muscari) tolerate dry shade, but others, such as ligularias with their beautiful bold leaves, thrive in moist shade only.
The trees on the left in the photo are privets. It would be best to replace them with other trees, since privets are linked to instances of hay fever, asthma and allergies. There are two types of privets, both of which have ‘escaped’ after their introduction to New Zealand as ornamental trees. They are fast growing trees with small cream flowers and dark purple to black berries. They spread quickly thanks to the birds and they could easily out-compete natives.