Planting a dry garden.

I wrote a blog back in January about plants for wet ground as it is a problem I regularly come across in the gardens I design. However I thought I better look at the other end of the scale too, for people who may be gardening in dry conditions, but here in the north west of England I can’t envisage it ever being a problem.

Having said that one of the most difficult areas, even in gardens that have plenty of rain, is the dry shade under trees and hedges. I am constantly looking at the best way to make these areas more colourful and interesting.

After plenty of trial and error there are some good doers for these areas. It has to be about trial and error as each garden is different and not everything works in every garden, but it is a starting point.

The main thing when planting in these dry areas is to ensure a good watering routine whilst the plants are establishing. Once they have sent their roots out hunting for water they will be much more self sufficient and then the intention is to leave them to fend for themselves.

DRY SHADE

Shrubs – not many (that I like) to choose from unfortunately!
Sarcococca – evergreen with strongly scented winter flowers.
Viburnum davidii – evergreen
Viburnum tinus – evergreen with winter flowers
Skimmia japonica
Prunus rotundifolia
Aucuba Rozannie
Buxus sempervirens (when established)
Pachysandra terminalis

Perennials – more choice with these.
Alchemilla mollis
Bergenia
Geranium nodosum
Geranium phaeum varieties
Geranium macrorrhizum
Brunnera
Epimedium
Euphorbia robbiae
Lamium
Tiarella
Tellima grandiflora
Liriope
Ajuga
Aster divaricatus

Ferns
Asplenium scolopendrium
Polystichum setiferum
Polystichum aculeatum
Dryopteris filix mas
Polypodium vulgare

Bulbs
Anemone blanda
Anemone nemerosa
Cyclamen hederifolium
Hyacinthoides non script (native bluebell)
Scilla
Chinodoxa
Muscari
Cyclamineus daffodils

There is a lot more choice when it comes to planting for dry sunny areas, just think mediterranean!
Most grey leaved and furry leaved plants can cope with dry. The following list should all be low maintenance once established.

DRY SUN

Shrubs
Lavender
Cistus
Ceanothus
Santolina
Rosemary
Abelia x grandiflora
Phlomis
Caryopteris
Perovskia

Perennials
Sedum
Bergenia
Eryngium
Stachys
Gaura
Achillea
Agastache
Linaria
Oenothera
Verbena
Liatris

We are at the mercy of the weather in this country and can never be sure from one day to the next what is going to be thrown at us but we are lucky in that we have such a vast range of plants that actually enjoy our climate. We may loose a few plants that aren’t happy with where we have put them but there will be plenty that will thrive and it makes life so much easier to enjoy these than trying to coerce the unhappy ones to stay.