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Hot Summer, Cool Comfort

This article was first published on 14 Dec 2017.

Dry shade

Dry shade

Photo by the Otago Daily Times

It’s looking like a hot, dry summer in Dunedin. There are two schools of thought on gardening in these conditions. Group one, armed with hoses, sprinklers and attachments roll out their plastic snakes daily to manage their slice of paradise. Group two hunker down to enjoy the weather and assume that anything wilting just isn’t suited to our local conditions, so have planted accordingly.

The mature European beeches in the lower botanic garden at the south end of the main drive provide the ideal situation for shade loving camellias and a variety of herbaceous plants and bulbs.

Shady areas in your garden are a wonderful opportunity for increasing the range of plants you can grow. Combinations of various textures and shades of green for contrast and especially large, thick or shiny leaves, can create a luxuriant and cool atmosphere. With good planning the drier, shady garden can be your personal oasis.

Herbaceous plants adapted to shade tend to have large leaves to maximise exposure to the limited light. Good herbaceous options that cope with dry spells in Dunedin include Arthropodium, Bergenia, Helleborus, Hosta, Myosotidium hortensia, Francoa, Polygonatum multiflorum, Phlomis russeliana, Pulmonaria and Zantedeschia. Many bulbs such as snowdrops, bluebells, Cardiocrinum giganteum, Cyclamen, Trillium and Erythronium also manage well in dry shade.

Choosing plants adapted to your conditions is the single most important factor for success. To see herbaceous plants enjoying life in the drier shade, discover these groundcovers in the lower garden Camellia Collection under the beeches.

Garden Life is produced by Dunedin Botanic Garden. For further information contact Marianne Groothuis.