Inspiration for Shaded Gardens
Review: Myrna Robins
Gardening in the Shade in South Africa, by Allan Haschick (Struik Lifestyle)
Today, as many of us spend far more time at home than we used to before the onset of the Covid19 pandemic, interest in gardening has blossomed as never before, making this title extra-welcome.
This slim guidebook with its wealth of beautiful photographs is, by its very nature, a specialist title, fulfilling a need as most gardening books offer limited coverage of the subject of shade. South Africa, being the sunny country it is, means gardeners wrestle more with the problem of surplus sun rather than too little.
This compendium of solutions would have been so helpful during the decades we gardened on the slopes of Devil’s Peak in Cape Town’s Newlands, where sun was patchy and disappeared behind the mountain all too early.
The text opens with a detailed look at the various types of shade found in gardens, including deep and semi-shade, seasonal and dappled shade, and whether the area is dry or damp. Having established the shade type in your garden we are ready to look at suitable trees and plants, both temperate and tropical, flowering and foliage, that could suit the site.
Shaded areas may need extra fertilisers and soil supplements to balance reduced levels of sunlight – and the fact that smaller plants often have to compete for food with the roots of larger trees or shrubs.
Advice on maintenance of the site, and pests and diseases to be aware of, follow.
Haschick recommends that gardeners plan their planting design on paper before purchasing plants or creating water features or other focal points such as trellises and benches. Sound effects of running water can add to the attraction and mask intrusive noise such as passing traffic.
Decisions on large and smaller plants follow – and here grouping of plants for colour and texture should be considered, or perhaps a selecting plants that will provide a succession of colour throughout the year, either from foliage or flowers.
Specialised plant groups for shady gardens fill the next colourful pages, offering a dazzling display of beauty and colour. Azaleas and rhododendrons lead the way, followed by fuchsias, camellias, hydrangea, begonias and orchids. Palms, cycads and tree-ferns precede bromeliads, succulents and bulbs. Ornamental grasses add texture, and plectranthus offers useful ground cover while trendy clivia come in new hues along with the traditional orange. Climbers and trees and varieties of fern follow with annuals as the final group to contemplate.
An illustrated directory of 40 pages of shade plants follows, grouped into plant types, then arranged alphabetically by their Latin name, with the common name beneath. Each short entry boasts a photograph, the type of shade for which it is suited, and a description of the foliage and flowers.
To aid choices further, the book finishes with a detailed index of plant names, both Latin and common, and a second index of garden operations, all of which make the reader’s life even easier.
Author Haschick’s love of gardening and horticulture dates back to his teens, and he is well known for his magazine columns in gardening magazines and Eastern Cape newspapers. His first book, Coastal Gardening in South Africa was published some four years back.