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West Yorkshire, United Kingdom Gb

Full shade or part shade?
My front garden in North East (more northish) facing.
What that means is that the border near my house wall gets little (1-2 hrs) mornign sun and also little (2 hrs) evening sun in summer but no sun at all in winter months. This border has gravel at present and I want to plant evergreen shrubs/perrenials here. RHS Plant selector defines shade as FULL or PART whereas a book I read from library (Plants for Shade) defines shade as Deep, Light, Dappled etc. The book says deep shade is where no light even reflected light struggles to reach e.g. between buildings, under big evergrren hedges and dark corner places in the garden. The book says that light shade is where either there is part sun or if no sun then atleast lots of reflected light, that is the area is open to sky. RHS has clear definition that Full shade is when there is no sun at all and Part shade is when tere is sun for some part of the day.

My confusion is that my garden border near north-east facing house wall is pretty open to sky and gets lot of reflected light. By no means will you look at this border and say it is dark. It gets part sun in summer but no direct sun in winter months. To use RHS plant seletor, should I treat this as FULL Shade or should I treat it as PART shade?

One answer seems obvious is that I can treat this as part shade for summer and full shade for winter; but that does not help in choosing plants. Choosing only for FULL Shade makes it a bit restricted choice. I would like to believe what the book says that I could call my border as light shade and go for plants suitbale for PART Shade.

Does anyone has the same situation and have you managed to grow shrubs that are suitable for PART shade in such border?



If the border is, as you say, fully open to the sky, not shaded by trees or other objects creating denser shade, then I'd describe it as light shade, particularly if the house walls are a light colour, or have very large windows. How well different plants will cope will vary though, it's not a rigid thing - choosing plants from the Part shade description provided by the RHS might mean some will do well, and some not so well. Obviously, anything suitable for 'Shade' should be absolutely fine.

4 Jul, 2012


Thanks Bamboo for your response.

4 Jul, 2012


If its any help I have such a border and this is what does well in it:Pieris, omphaloides, euphorbia robbiae rubra, auricula, skimmia, euonymus fortunii, lamium maculatum, geranium Johnson's Blue, alchemilla mollis, lily of the valley, and fibrous rooted begonia to fill in the gaps as summer bedding. Plus snowdrops and daffodils for spring.

4 Jul, 2012


Thanks Steragram.
That's a handy list. Will be very useful in my border planning.

At preent I am planting for a evergreen backdrop in this area with some winter interset. So was looking for something that is 4-5 feet high with good foliage. Looking to go with Sarcococca. Then will use your list for front border plantings.

I have slightly alkaline soil, so Pieris may not do as good. I read that it needs acid soil.

Thaks for your response. Very handy list for this border.


9 Jul, 2012

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