THE FRONT GARDEN

Planting 1 Lighting up a shaded garden

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Diagram one is the planting key to the photograph. Diagram two is a planting plan using those plants

1 Rubus idaeus 'Aurea' (golden-Ieaved raspberry) 2 Hosta fortunei ' Aurea , 3 Hosta fortunei 'Albo Picta' , 4 Hosta fortunei 'Marginato Alba' 5 Hyacinthoides non-scripta (bluebell)

 

Introductions Even a restricted range of plants, in clever hands, can create rich and subtle effects. Here, using only three genera, Beth Chat to has made a luxuriant tapestry of golden foliage, and one which gives pleasure from early spring to the first hard frosts. The golden-Ieaved raspberry is a perfect foil for three kinds of hosta, and the essentially golden effect is counterpointed by a scattering of bluebells.

Developments and the seasons In a small garden, you might need to have some other spring flowers besides bluebells. for early in the season, it would be tempting to have white daffodils such as 'Thalia' or 'Mount Hood'. For late summer when the hostas are in flower, you could add some white or soft purplish pink astilbes, and a couple of tufts of a good hardy fern like Matteuccia struthiopteris or Dryopteris filix-mas. A wall behind could be draped with white roses, or the mauvish rose 'Veilchenblau'. Clumps of September-flowering Aster macrophylla, with its spiky amethyst blooms and handsome heart-shaped leaves, could be added at each side of the planting.

Site This would make an excellent scheme for a small and shady front garden with gravel or flagstone paths. It could tolerate a few hours' sun a day, but needs some shade from an overhead tree, such as a native birch, or a green-Ieaved, whiteflowered prunus. Do not plant the yellow Robinia pseudo-acacia 'Frisia' here, or you might find the golden effect overdone.

Maintenance and costs Once established, these ground-cover plants keep maintenance to a minimum.

Props and additions Some big pots containing soft grey-blue Nierembergia frulescens, or the marvellous pinkish tan flowers and sticky green leaves of Mimulus cupreus, could be placed nearby. In denser shade, use a plant with good leaves instead, mixing, for example, a red-speckled mimulus with the wonderful Hosla sieboldiana.

Substitutions The rubus is lovely, but may be difficult to find. A similar effect could be achieved using either the golden-leaved form of philadelphus (P. coronarius 'Aurea') or golden weigela. The hostas are harder to substitute: try the easy 'Golden Flash' and 'Flamboyance' for the yellows, or look for the marvellous 'Frances Williams' for the green variegated one. Instead of the little touches of purplish blue of the bluebells, you could plant a scattering of the greeMeaved blue-flowered form of the /low-growing Ajuga replans (bugle), or, if you want to stick to bulbs, put in a dozen or so Camassia leichllinii (quamash) which has tall rockets of soft blue stars. For late summer, you could add contrast with a few plants of the shrieking strawberry pink of Potentilla nepalensis 'Miss Willmott'.

Ideas for its use This planting would also suit a tiny courtyard, but using a philadelphus rather than the raspberry. You could either plant right up to the paving, or add a border of an ivy like 'Green Ripple', with dark green leaves and waved edges

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