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Linsey Evans' Top Plant Recommendations: Favorite Shade Tolerant Plants for South East England


Dryopteris erythrosora
This is my favourite fern.  It is deciduous, but it's new growth is pink and it’s a delicate all-round fabulous fern.  It will tolerate full sun if you water it enough, and can be coaxed into growing almost anywhere.  I always try to sneak one into my planting schemes.Grows 1m high by 1m across.
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Epimedium x perralchicum 'Frohnleiten'
Will tolerate dry shade so you can plant it around the base of trees.  Has fabulous pale goldish green heart-shaped leaves which are bronze when young.  It has sprays of delicate yellow scented flowers in late winter.  I cut off the leaves around February so that I can enjoy the flowers that come through in great profusion. Use it to edge borders anywhere in the garden.  Team it with any/all of the other plants in this section and you'll have a scheme that gives interest all year round.
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Cyrtomium fortunei
An evergreen fern with beautiful architectural foliage. Arching, holly like fronds give structure and interest in a shaded border.  It will tolerate deep shade.  It has a height and spread of 60cm. 
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Brunnera macrophylla 'Jack Frost'
Large, heart-shaped, mint green leaves with silver splashed centers.  A head of forget-me-not like flowers in late winter/early spring.  Will grow in shade where it shines out and lights up dark areas, or full sun.  Cut off the old leaves in winter and watch the tiny leaves emerge.  Creates a gorgeous display as one of the first plants to flower in the garden in early spring.  Looks fantastic planted next to Epimedium, Tiarella, Hellebores, and Heuchera.
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Tiarella 'Crow Feather' -
Another fabulous foliage plant.  This variety has a deeply lobed leaf with a green margin and black center.  It flowers in early spring with a spray of creamy flowers - it's also known as Foam Flower.  It will grow in deep shade and looks great planted in a woodland scheme.
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Heuchera 'Obsidian'
Absolutely scrumptious colour and one of my favourite Heucheras.  It looks great planted in clumps punctuated with golden Carex elata aurea.  It's not really grown for its flowers, which are cream and held in sprays on long upright stems, but the bees absolutely love them, so I leave them on as long as possible.  It's a wonderful counterpoint to other foliage ground cover plants with its silky, almost black, purple leaves.  It will grow in sun or shade, but gets a bit leggy in deep shade.
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