It is easy to neglect a dark, overgrown corner and to think that nothing useful or attractive can be done with the space, but with a bit of courage and creative thinking you can transform something like this…
into something like this:
This corner of our garden is shaded by a large Acer and a Noble Fir (Abies procera), which we understand had been a Christmas tree re-homed into the garden many years earlier. It was not until we removed the evergreen shrubs filling the space underneath the trees that we discovered a sizeable area crying out for development. The previous owners had mentioned a pond, but we were surprised to unearth a damaged fiberglass pond liner and lots of rockery stone. We put our thinking caps on.
It took a few weeks and many cups of tea before we had with the idea of constructing a water feature with its sump in part of the pond liner, and making an alpine bed in the rest. However, things didn’t quite go to plan. The rockery stone didn’t provide the right look, so a ton of blue slate was ordered. Once the slate had been arranged we filled behind it with compost, but later learnt that topsoil and grit would have been much better. We then planted lots of alpines, but discovered that the area was too wet and shady for most of them.
After many plant losses we did our research properly and started seeking out plants suitable for the conditions. The planting continues to be challenging, and our bantam chickens cause some destruction as they treat it as their own miniature garden, but the area is now well-established and provides much pleasure.
What was once a dark and neglected corner now contains a bench which catches the afternoon sun. The chickens perch on the arms of the bench, the cats sunbath on top of a wooden water barrel, and we enjoy a cup of tea and a lovely view of the garden framed by the tree branches.
The plants that have been successful on the sunny, sloping edges:
The plants that have been successful in the shadier and damper areas: