Planting for Bright Shade in Garden Design

May 20th, 2022


Bright Shade Planting

This design series is about plants that are categorised as non-general lines, in other words, plants that are not production grown that then become available in several different sized pots. This series is also about year round interest in the garden even when plants are not in flower. Imagine opening the back door to look at a sea of just green with no distinguishing features! A tad boring don't you think?

Instead, think of plants with different sized and shaped leaves, that might also have contrasting colours.

Plants we mention in this series, you won’t necessarily find in your big box store or possibly even in your nursery so you may have to search for them.

These plants are so worthwhile that because they provide year round interest with their foliage colour, texture and contrast, not just their flowers.


So you’ve got some shady areas that’s under trees. This spot is usually thick with the roots of the trees so will be difficult to plant anything there that will survive the root competition, or will it?
This is where you have to think outside the square and look at plants that don't need to grow in too much soil.


Cryptostephanos vansonii

What are you going to grow in these root ridden shady areas?

Peter mentioned


  • Calanthe sylvatica-a ground orchid-good for moist shade
  • Philodendron marshalliana-has storage stems and not a climber.


  • Syningia bullata and S. Canescens and S. cardinalis other syningia sp-small cordex that can regrow from.
  • Cryptostephanos vansoni



I say every week that Peter Nixon, RWG’s contributor for this series, focuses largely on what he calls cool sub-tropical garden or ‘cool sub-trops’ which he refers to often.

Don’t be put off if you live in a different climate because often plants adapt to a variety of climatic conditions and are worth a try.
I'm talking with Peter Nixon of Paradisus garden design.

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