How can I improve shaded bedding areas in our gardens?

Guy Barter, Head of Horticultural Advice at the RHS, answers your gardening questions
Begonias are ideal for shaded spots in bedding areas
Question: I am a landlord at a private property development and need advice on how to enhance the three small bedding areas in the gardens.

Bedding area one

This area has little sun during the summer (only one hour to part of the area) and I planted a few pine trees, lavender and plants such as lilies, but these seem to die out after a few months.

Answer: I am afraid little will grow in heavy shade and under pines it is quite common for nothing at all to grow very well, especially not bedding plants. Try perennial dead nettles and periwinkles (Vinca) to a least cover the ground, but if these fail, the area might be unplantable.

Bedding area two

This area has much more sun (four-to-five hours daily) and I have planted a mixture of geraniums, flowering plants (impatiens F1) and other seasonal plants, but they too have become poor due to bugs and possibly poor soil.

Answer: Impatiens and begonias are ideal for shaded spots. As always, growth will be much better if the soil is improved with a bucketful of compost every square metre and a sprinkling of general fertiliser. For winter this sort of area is ideal for spring flowering bulbs such as tulips, forget-me-nots and pansies, and these can be planted in September.

Bedding area three

This area has some sun (three-to-four hours daily) and I have planted rhododendron in the middle of the bay which is growing perfectly and healthly, as well as geraniums, roses and seasonal plants - but again, bugs seem to be detroying the plants.

Answer: as the rhododendron is growing well I suggest adding more shrubs and dispensing with bedding; hydrangeas and hardy fuchsias for summer colour would be highly suitable, but evergreen cover is especially good for winter and I suggest two thirds of the planting should be evergreen. Variegated euonymous, skimmia and aucuba (spotted laurel) would be a good choice.

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