Landscape Design

Design for SHADE

Designing for shady areas is always tricky, especially when the area gets sun for some time of the day and shade for another part of the day. Areas of deep shade are also problematic and it is not always easy to know which plant species will do well in those conditions. Most plants can tolerate shade for part of the day but if the area is below a dense canopy of trees or on the south side of a building where it receives little sun throughout the day it is best to plant Shade Plants.

So what should I plant?

Shade gardens can often be dominated by large leafed plants all the same dark green colour so I like to add contrast with different coloured greens, several leaf textures and variegated foliage where possible. I also like adding a variety of ‘tiers’ or planting heights using large shrubs at the back, medium sized groundcovers in front of them, followed by low growing groundcovers in the front. Since lawn is problematic is shade conditions you can use pavers, gravel, bark chip or a combination of these floor coverings and create pathways through the beds with areas for resting such as a bench or secluded spot.

The skeleton or framework of the garden should consist of trees and larger shrubs - giving height, structure and backdrop of foliage. Examples of larger shrubs that do well in shade conditions include Mackaya bella (River Bells), Duvernoia adhatodoides (Pistol Bush), Burchellia bubalina (Wild Pomegranate), Diospyros whyteana (Bladder Nut), Plumbago auriculata (Leadwort) and Orthosiphon labiatus (Shellbush).

Middle range sized plants include Plectranthus (so many wonderful species that I will write a separate Blog showcasing some examples), Dietes, Carissa bispinosa and macrocarpa (NumNum), Hypoestes aristata (Ribbon Bush) and Ferns.

Lower growing groundcovers include Chlorophytum spp., Asparagus spp., Agapanthus spp., Crassula multicava ‘Ruby’, Zantedeschia aethiopica (Arum Lily) and Clivia miniata (Bush Lily). I often try to encourage clients to make use of Seasonal Bulbs to add colour and interest and the added delight of discovering them grow when you forgot they were there. Examples of Bulbs that do well in Shade include Scadoxus ‘Katherinae’, Veltheimia bracteata, Crosocmia aurea, Haemanthus albiflos, and Crinum moorei.

Focal plants are great for making a statement or highlighting a certain area in the garden and can include Dracaeana aletriformis (Large Leaved Dragon Tree), Dombeya tiliacea (Forest Wild Pear), Gardenia thunbergia (Forest Gardenia) and Strelitzia reginae (Crane Flower).

If you need some inspiration take a look at the images below showing a few of the plants mentioned. If you need assistance with a landscape development plan please contact me.

Clivia miniata (Bush Lily)

Clivia miniata (Bush Lily)

Crassula multicava 'Ruby'

Crassula multicava 'Ruby'

Draceana aletriformis (Dragon Plant)

Draceana aletriformis (Dragon Plant)

Asparagus virgatus (Broom Asparagus)

Asparagus virgatus (Broom Asparagus)

Scadoxus ‘Katherinae’ (Paint Brush Lily)

Scadoxus ‘Katherinae’ (Paint Brush Lily)

Crinum moorei (Moore’s Lily)

Crinum moorei (Moore’s Lily)

Crocosmia aurea (Falling Stars)

Crocosmia aurea (Falling Stars)

What Would Your Garden Look Like Around The World?

Garden design is more than just maintenance, it’s about self-expression and protecting cultural traditions. Around the world, different flowers and plants have different symbolic meanings. In some countries, the arrangement of a garden might also be symbolic or it might be for practical reasons such as the weather. Because of the varying climates across the world, different species of flower, plant and tree will grow and provide communities with different resources including food and styles of furniture. All these different features of a garden provide an insight into another lifestyle and culture. 

The team at 4 Everdeck have created the following infographic with information and images of the gardening habits and traditions followed by different countries around the world. The infographic provides insight into different cultures and might also give you some unique ideas for your own garden at home!

By Katherine Myers

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House E Indigenous Planting

Indigenous Grasses with Cycads and Aloes. Trees screening neighbouring house.

Indigenous Grasses with Cycads and Aloes. Trees screening neighbouring house.

House E is a stunning example of the beauty that South African flora holds and makes use of indigenous grasses with several focal plants in between.

A grass mix including Aristida junciformis and Melinis nerviglumis was interplanted with several bulbs such as Ornithogalum thyrsoides, Dierama spp, Eucomis autumnalis and Eucomis comosa, which formed the main planting theme.

Several feature plants grow out of the grass mix including Aloes, Proteas, Cabbage Trees and Cycads.

Trees: Large Olive trees were used as the primary screening elements which were interplanted with Loxostylis alata, Dombeya rotundifolia, Heteropyxis natalensis and Nuxia floribunda. Dais cotinifolia were also added as feature trees.

Shrubs: a screening hedge of Dodonea angustifolia created a green boundary and smaller shrubs such as Polygala myrtifolia, Coleonema alba and Euryops virgineus were added.

Before and During Construction

After Implementation and then the greener images are taken 4 months after installation.

Design with FOLIAGE

Combination of leaf shapes, sizes and textures

Combination of leaf shapes, sizes and textures

I always try put more emphasis on choosing plants according to their foliage for a landscape rather than choosing plants based on their flowers. Flowers only last a short season, but foliage lasts all year round. Don’t get me wrong, I love flowers and always add flowering plants to my designs but they are not the skeleton of the design. It is the texture - size and shape of leaves - that add variety and interest.

Aristida junciformis - Three Awn Grass - Soft Texture

Aristida junciformis - Three Awn Grass - Soft Texture

Grasses are wonderful at adding texture with their long flowing shapes that move in the wind. So are Kniphofias, Aloes and various succulents with different leaf shapes and colours. Bulbs (Eucomis, Crinum, Crocosmia) interplanted between grasses add interest and seasonal variety. Every year that my bulbs come up I am unexpectedly delighted!

Eucomis zambeziaca - Pineapple Lily. There are several Eucomis species, such a rewarding Bulb!

Eucomis zambeziaca - Pineapple Lily. There are several Eucomis species, such a rewarding Bulb!

I love combining plants that have large leaves with ones that have small, fine leaves. Succulents are a great choice as they are waterwise and require little water. They also withstand harsh weather conditions and will not die easily. Certain deciduous plants (Eg: Tree - Combretum krausii) turn gold, yellow and red before losing their leaves. This also adds seasonal interest and shows the changing of time and seasons.

Kalanchoe thyrsiflora - White Lady. This succulent turns a brighter red the more sun it gets

Kalanchoe thyrsiflora - White Lady. This succulent turns a brighter red the more sun it gets

So next time you choose a plant for your garden, don’t think about the colour of the flower but rather the leaf shape, size and colour and how this will complement the other plants. Here are a few lovely plants for adding texture to your garden:

A Client's beautiful indigenous garden - combining Aloes with Fynbos plants like Leucodendron

A Client's beautiful indigenous garden - combining Aloes with Fynbos plants like Leucodendron

Euryops pectinatus - Golden Daisy Bush. Grey-Green Foliage

Euryops pectinatus - Golden Daisy Bush. Grey-Green Foliage

Rhus burchellii - don't you love that curved leaf?

Rhus burchellii - don't you love that curved leaf?

Rhigozum obovatum - tiny grey leaves

Rhigozum obovatum - tiny grey leaves

Scabiosa africana - those flower heads are like pincushions once the flowers die down

Scabiosa africana - those flower heads are like pincushions once the flowers die down