Unusual plants for a shady spot
Beth opened her plant nursery, then named Unusual Plants, in 1967. Her catalogues of plants were divided into sections determined by different growing conditions enabling customers to search for plants specific to the conditions on offer in their own gardens.
Many of the plants that Beth propagated and sold at the time were considered unusual but have become more commonplace today. Our team are always on the hunt for those unusual plants that aren’t so easy to come by, carefully sourcing and propagating them for customers who are searching for something a little different.
Here are some of our less well-known plants suitable for a shady spot:
1. Arisarum proboscideum (Mouse plant)- a small, delicate plant requiring a humus rich soil. Tiny tubers will increase over time and send up glossy green leaves with small flowers hidden amongst them. The long spathe tips look like tiny mice tails poking out from the beneath the foliage. The leaves usually die back to the tuber in midsummer but will reappear the following year. Plants can cope with sun and part shade.
2. Dodecatheon pulchellum subsp. cusickii (Dark-throat shooting star)- sturdy stems of lavender-pink flowers appear in April & May with swept-back petals and dark centres. Attractive clumps of foliage are produced first. Plants require a rich, moisture retentive soil in shade.
Dodecatheon pulchellum subsp. cusickii
3. Roscoea cautleyoides- related to ginger, this fleshy rooted perennial requires a humus-rich woodland soil in shade. R. cautleyoides produces primrose-yellow flowers in July and August but different cultivars offer a range of colours. R. ‘Harvington Evening Star’ has deep purple flowers, R. ‘Wisley Amethyst’ produces white flowers with a dramatic purple mark on the lower lip, and R. ‘Red Gurkha’ had distinctive deep red flowers.Roscoea cautleyoides
4. Veratrum album (White false hellebore)- this plant takes 5-7 years to get to full size from seed! Finely pleated, hosta-like leaves are produced first, followed by densely packed heads of white, cupped flowers in midsummer. Will grow in sun or part shade but requires a rich, fertile soil.
5. Kirengeshoma palmata (Yellow wax bells)- looks great growing amongst ferns and hostas where the green palette makes the buttery-yellow flowers stand out. Irregular edged, maple-like leaves surround dark purple stems. Happiest growing in a rich, fertile soil in sun or part shade with shelter from the wind.
6. Buglossoides purpurocaerulea (Purple gromwell)- produces bright, gentian-blue flowers from April to June which stand out in the woodland garden. This perennial is much more forgiving of its position, growing in most soil types, in sun and part shade.
7. Disporum- clump-forming perennial woodland plant with slender, running rhizomes. This genus of plants requires full shade with a rich, fertile soil. Offering a variety of flowers and foliage, our range of disporum can be viewed HERE.
Disporum longistylum 'Night Heron'
8. Phaenosperma globosa (Waterfall millet)- a clump forming grass which produces fountain-like, arching stems suspending delicate, bead-like seedheads. Tolerant of most soil types in sun or part shade, this grass will gently seed around.
9. Arisaema tortuosum (Whipcord cobra lily)- a very unusual shade-loving plant which flowers in early summer. Hooded green spathes give a cobra-like appearance, whilst the long grey-green spadix extends from within, twisting upwards reaching 1.4m in height. Grow in a humus rich soil in dappled shade for best results.
10. Uvularia (Large merrybells)- from arching stems dangle yellow, bell-shaped flowers with long twisting pointed petals held well above leaves surrounding the lower part of the stem. Flower in mid to late spring. We stock a few varieties of uvularia; some with pale yellow flowers and some with more twisted petals. See our uvularia HERE.
Our full range of shade-loving plants can be found HERE.
Written by Leanne Crozier