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Gardening: Forest gumption; Planting in the shade of trees.

Byline: PIPPA GREENWOOD

LARGE trees may look good in a garden, but they bring with them a serious problem.

Growing anything underneath them is difficult because they take up lots of water and food and in return cast a lot of shade.

So what can you do to overcome this?

If the trees are grouped together, try to mimic the sort of habitat you would naturally find. Plants such as rhododendron, pieris and azalea (acid soils only), wood anemones, bulbs and ferns could be the solution.

If the tree has low branches ask a tree surgeon to "crown lift" it - removing the lowermost branches, or "crown thinning" - thinning out the branches to let more light through.

Always dig a planting pit rather than a hole underneath trees and be sure to use plenty of bulky organic matter to help the new residents get off to a better start. Plants under big trees need regular watering and feeding because they are competing with well established roots. There are a number of plants which do well even in quite dense shade. Good garden centres will have areas dedicated to this sort of thing.

Bulbs are often a good option, especially those which put on the best show in the spring before most trees are in full leaf. Try snowdrops, wood anemone, chinodoxa, cyclamen hederifolium, bluebells, Lleucojum (the spring snowflake), trilliums, Dutch crocus and some daffodils.

Herbaceous perennials are not as easy, but in dense shade consider ajuga, anemone japonica, waldsternia ternate, tiarella, tellima, pullmonaria saccharata, hosta, aruncu dioicus, lily of the valley, iris foetidissima and lamium maculatum.

Get planning now, then in autumn get planting when conditions are perfect for them to get established.
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Title Annotation:Review
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jul 27, 2002
Words:282
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