As well all know, the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. Consequently, if you have a west-facing garden your plants will receive very little sunlight in the mornings. Like an east-facing garden, they’re shady, but with the difference being that they receive hot sunlight in the afternoons. This means that these two kinds of garden have very different growing conditions, and there are therefore some plants which are better than others when it comes to growing in a west-facing environment.
Plants in a west-facing garden must be able to withstand the afternoon or summer heat, and shade-loving plants are far less likely to thrive, so which ones should you consider making a part of your garden? This blog runs down some of our favourite plants that will flourish in west-facing gardens.
Hardy Geraniums, or Cranesbills, are perennial border plants with saucer-shaped flowers in shades of pink, purple and blue. These can grow well in either direct sunlight or partial shade, so are naturally versatile – so they earn their ‘hardy’ moniker. These can make great companions for ferns and added colour where it is much needed.
Well-known for their fragrance and numerous blooms, phlox paniculata grow well in partial shade and so suit west-facing gardens. The flowers, which range from 1.5 to 2.5 cm (1–1 in) in diameter, are white, pink, red, or purple, and borne in summer through autumn.
Tulips are a staple of west-facing gardens. Bright and colourful, tulips are usually large, showy and generally appear in red, pink, yellow, or white. By planting tulip bulbs in autumn, you’ll be rewarded with dazzling colour when spring comes around.
There are over three hundred species of rose and thousands of cultivars. Naturally, this offers gardeners a lot variety to work with, from shrub roses – which can bloom magnificently in a west-facing border, to rambling roses for west-facing walls. The iconic symbol of romance, roses come in a more compact size, as well as climbers that can grow to seven metres tall.
Relatively inexpensive and easy to grow, daffodils inject some early-year colour into west-facing gardens. Planted in autumn, daffodils spend many months developing roots before the flowers burst into life in the spring. In many cultures, daffodils are considered to bring good fortune and they are hugely symbolic in art and literature.
Campanulas, often known as bellflowers, offer gardeners a great deal of choice due to their many varieties, with tall cultivars like ‘Kent Belle’ and the low-growing Campanula Carpatica. Campanula take both their common and scientific names from their bell-shaped flowers—campanula is Latin for “little bell”.
Jasmine is the perfect choice for a west-facing fence or wall, as they can rapidly climb and produce a beautiful perfume. Summer jasmine best suits a sunny, sheltered spot and thrives in mild regions of the UK.
The Common Elderflower is a small native tree or large shrub with graceful, fern-like leaves. A robust shrub, Elderflower produces glossy blackberries and comes in many attractive cultivars including ‘Black Beauty’ and ‘Marginata’. Its berries are used in elderflower cordial and can be used in the production of wine or syrup.
Dependent on variety, magnolias can grow in late-winter, spring or summer. Magnolias will create attractive branches and add structure to borders. Named after French botanist Pierre Magnol, the flowers of many species of Magnolia are edible. In parts of England, the petals of the M. grandiflora variety are pickled and used as a spicy condiment.
There are many other fantastic varieties of plants available which can be used to create the west-facing garden of your dreams. Camellias flower in the coldest months of the year and benefit from morning shade. There are also a healthy variety of small trees which suit west-facing gardens, including crab apple trees and Laburnums.
In a west-facing garden, plants are more exposed to the wind. Therefore, it’s best to grow strong, low-growing plants that can cope with these weather conditions. All the varieties mentioned in this blog could be just what your garden needs to stay bright, colourful and cheery all year round. When your flowers are in bloom, you’ll want somewhere in your garden to sit and admire them. Explore our range of three seater benches, the ideal companion for larger gardens and outdoor spaces which are perfect for soaking up the rays this Summer.
Anna is the marketing and office manager for Garden Benches – a premium supplier of high-quality wooden benches and other outdoor furniture.