An east facing garden will spend a lot of time in the shade. For most, this would feel like a disappointment, but we see this as an opportunity. When you are just starting out sharing time together is crucial; a garden where you can sit from dawn until dusk, without getting too hot, is perfect. Couples’ benches in an east facing garden are one of those luxury essentials. Your east facing garden is also an opportunity to grow those plants that relish a cool, partially shaded area.
It is time to discover the world of plants that will love your east-facing garden.
Anemones are a species of plant that contains many flowering and wood anemone. All this class of plant are shade-loving, so if you see the name, you cannot go too wrong. Most you will see will be low-growing; therefore they are perfect for the front of borders. Anemonella thalictroides, also known as Amelia, has the loveliest small white flower to scatter your garden delicately.
If you are looking for a more dramatic flower that will grab centre stage in your garden, then the Himalayan poppy is indeed a show-off. Meconopsis is one of the few plants with genuine blue flowers, a reason to choose it more than any other. However, you will need to keep its soil moist, and it prefers acidic soil. If in the direct sunlight for too long, the soil will be far too dry. This makes the Meconopsis the perfect addition to an east-facing garden.
However, if you want a more traditional indigo/ blue flowering plant that can deal with sun and shade, try the clematis Alpina. Most clematis can only thrive in full sun, but the feathery elegance of this plant loves an east-facing border.
It is likely that your garden, if thoroughly shaded, is going to thrive better with trees, shrubs and ferns. This may give your garden a primeval feel. Therefore, you may want to introduce shrubs that offer some winter colour, with berries and foliage that keeps an evergreen shade. When planning your perfect garden, where your couples’ bench will be vital all year round, needs some autumn and winter planting. Berberis is the perfect shrub for that low February sun that has the first hints of spring warmth.
Dogwoods, also known as Cornus, are your go-to plant for an east-facing garden. These plants are particularly useful in large borders, where you need to layer the height for added interest. The great news about dogwood is that some flower in the winter – again adding to the all-year-round appeal of your garden space. If you choose the Cornus mas, you will get a shrub the size of a small tree that gives a show of delicate yellow flowers throughout the colder months.
Another plant that loves growing in partial shade is the viburnum. Look out for the type called the guelder rose, whose white flowers will offer delight. If you are looking for some drama, then try the Viburnum x bodnantense, which has vibrant leaves, burgundy and luscious, along with a delicate pink flower. Alternatively, try the Dart’s Red Robin with its blood-red berries and bushy leaf structure.
Finally, a favourite in most gardens, the native Yew is an evergreen that is hardy, which flourishes in most light conditions. This is a perfect choice if you are looking to create hedging borders. It also allows you to create topiary shaping that would be the ideal complement for your couples’ benches. Your yew hedge will be a long-term project preparing the soil, spacing the plants and helping them establish successfully, but it sure is worth the effort.
Hakonechloa Macra is also known as Japanese Forest Grass, which is slightly easier to say to the customer services at the garden centre. This perennial grass produces a vast mound of green leaves, which are topped by sprays of green flowers. The grass is hardy and can thrive in all levels of shade. The other reason to love Japanese Forest Grass is the seasonal changes make this plant equally beautiful in the winter, as you would expect in the summer. The green flowers turn to brown and bronze foliage through autumn and winter.
This is a colour-changing tobacco plant, hence the nicotine-like name. Don’t let this put you off, as this is a large rosette of luscious oval leaves. In the summer you will enjoy trumpet-shaped flowers that will bough the stems. The flowers change with the age of the plant, moving from white through different shades of pink. This shade-loving plant will grow to 1.5m high and give off a sweet fragrance when in flower. No pruning is required and is happy in most soil types. Good news for the lazy gardener is that the plant is resistant to diseases, therefore offering trouble-free growing.
Also known as the Austrian Clematis, this plant can live in full sun or partial shade. The plant comes in many types. It can be deciduous, an evergreen shrub or a herbaceous perennial. It is a climbing plant, with twining stalks and a beautiful show of flowers. In autumn, flowers will be replaced by attractive seed heads. The flowers are light violet-blue with cream stamens. Your Austrian Clematis will come into bloom in the late summer. You just need to be sure that the soil is moist but well-drained.
Fatsia is another Japanese plant that is happy in the shade as much as it is in full sun. Also known as Japanese Aralia, this is an evergreen shrub with thick and long stems with large, leathery leaves. However, this plant will delight with the seasons, as you have small white flowers and then small black fruits. This plant will mature with your garden, as it takes 20 years to get to its full spread and height. Your plant could end up being 4 metres high, and 4 metres spread. Fatsia will turn into a dramatic feature plant in an east-facing garden.
There are so many flowers that adore that shaded, cooler garden. Sit amongst your shrubs, trees and perennials and admire the dappled light that stays constant throughout the day. An east facing garden is a beautiful garden, a dance of sunbeams offers a depth of sensory experience no matter the time of year.
Anna is the marketing and office manager for Garden Benches – a premium supplier of high-quality wooden benches and other outdoor furniture.