Perfect Planting - A Helping Hand!

Planting a garden can be tricky and requires a well thought-out strategy to ensure each plant thrives in its designated spot.
There are so many aspects to consider when designing a garden; light and watering, types of soil, nutrients and feed required, pots and containers – this list goes on.

Luckily, we have everything you need in our stores, and friendly staff on hand to help you make these decisions. We have a fantastic range of products too online that will make gardening a much less daunting job.

Just like us, plants have different levels of tolerance when it comes to exposure and outside conditions. Some plants like shade, others like full sun - if you plant the wrong plant in the wrong place your efforts will not be rewarded with a full and blooming outside space and mistakes can be expensive.

There’s so much to consider when planning your garden. A great suggestion is to take your time and get to know exactly where the path of the sun moves throughout the course of the day before buying any plants. Are there some areas that are constantly in sun or shade? Is your garden South or North facing? Is it exposed and windy or a sheltered space?
So much to consider…

We want your garden to be a success and a space that you can be proud of after all your hard work. We have put together some basic guidelines to help you plan your beds, borders and containers and live your best garden life!


Shade Loving Plants

Many gardens have shady areas, especially in densely populated areas where closely constructed buildings block the sun during parts of the day. Other causes of shade could be against a fence or wall, under trees or North facing gardens and these create different types of shade.

When choosing shade loving plants you need to consider what type of shade you have – is it dappled, damp, cold or partial? Is it under trees and therefore dry too? This will determine the plant that is suitable for that area.
Sunlight can dry out plants, dehydrating them.

Without water, they photosynthesise inefficiently and therefore do not grow very well but, in the shade, they retain more moisture and therefore photosynthesise better.

For a shady area, choose plants that do well in less light. Shade plants often have thin leaves with large surface areas enabling them to photosynthesize in low light. They contain more chlorophyll than those leaves receiving full sun and are more efficient in harvesting sunlight at low light levels.

There are plenty of shade loving plants to choose from that will give your garden interest, structure, and colour – you can still be creative in a shady space!

Here are a few suggestions:
Iris foetidissima - Stinking Iris
Euphorbia amygdaloides robbiae - Wood Spurge,
Galanthus nivalis - Snowdrop
Eranthis hyemalis - Winter Aconites
Campanula - Bellflower
Digitalis purpurea - Foxglove
Aquilegia - Granny's Bonnet
Lamprocapnos spectabili - Bleeding Heart or more commonly known as Dicentra
Alchemilla mollis - Lady's Mantle
Anemone × hybrida ‘Honorine Jobert’ - Japanese Anemone
Dryopteris affinis - Scaly Male Fern
Milium effusum ‘Aureum’ - Bowles's Golden Grass


Sun Loving Plants

A full sun area in the garden is considered 6 or more hours of direct sunlight per day. Is that your garden?

It’s no surprise then that only heat-tolerant and sun-loving plants that thrive in full sun should be selected for these areas. These plants can retain moisture and need very little to thrive preferring well drained soil. They are particularly good at surviving dry spells and droughts.

Saying that, this does not mean that once they are in the ground you can leave them to their own devices. All plants require watering and maintenance so you will still need to be a hands-on gardener. Good advice is to water for the for the first year to settle plants in and water early morning or later in the evening.

Most plants require some shade throughout the day and its more difficult to find ones that can tolerate sun ‘all’ day. Full sun can devastate a garden if the plants struggle to cope and so it is very important to choose them appropriately. To avoid dehydration, moisture retaining aids can be added to the soil.

It might be worth installing a watering/irrigation system if your garden is particularly dry, an investment that will really pay off.

Here are some suggestions of plants that may suit the sunny aspects in your garden:
Dahlia pinnata - Dahlia
Monarda - Bee Balm
Asclepias curassavica - Tropical Milkweed
Colocasia esculenta - Taro
Canna - Canna
Paeonia - Peony
Perovskia atriplicifolia - Russian Sage
Aquilegia - Columbine
Campanula - Bellflower
Armeria maritima - Thrift
Chrysanthemum - Chrysanthemum
Pelargonium - Hardy Geranium
Nepeta - Catmint
Hemerocallis - Daylily
Lavandula - Lavender
Echinacea - Coneflower
Salvia - Sage
Papaver - Perennial Poppies
Stachys byzantina - Lamb's Ear
Verbena - Vervain
Alcea - Hollyhock
Agastache foeniculum - anise hyssop
Dianthus – Sweet William
Veronica - Speedwell


Soil Types

There are six main soil groups: clay, sandy, silty, peaty, chalky and loamy and each type determines what plants will grow successfully.

A clay-based soil retains water in Winter and looses it in Summer. This soil is full of nutrients though so it’s not all bad news.

Plants that do well in clay-based soil are:
Ribes sanguineum - Flowering Currant
Malus - Crab Apple
Bergenia cordifolia – Elephant Ears
Viburnum tinus - Laurustine
Pulmonaria - Blue Lungwort
Alchemilla mollis - lady's mantle

Sandy Soil does not hold water and has less nutrients.

Plants that enjoy these conditions are:
Liatris – Button Snakewort
Penstemon campanulatus - penstemon
Phlox paniculate - Phlox
Perovskia atriplicifolia - Russian Sage
Uniola paniculate - Sea oats
Salvia - Sage
Achillea millefolium - Yarrow

Silty soil is more fertile than other types of soil, meaning it is good for growing crops as silt promotes water retention and air circulation. Most veg grows well in these conditions, but Hostas or Hellebores are flowering plants that do well too.

Peaty soils are damp and have a high acid content.

Plants that thrive in these conditions are:
Magnolias, Rhododendrons, Heather, and Camellias
Some are known as Ericaceous loving, and these can be grown in containers with the exact compost they require.
Chalky soils are alkaline and free draining so plants that enjoy dry conditions do well here. Some suggestions are:
Ceanothus, Campanula, Clematis, Dianthus, Geranium and Lavandula

Loam soil is a ‘proper’, healthy balance of sand, silt, and clay soil – the ideal soil for many plants and the Gardeners best friend.

Choose from:
Fruit trees
Soft fruits such as strawberries, raspberries, and blackcurrants.
Vegetables such as peas, beans, beetroot, onions, and salad crops.
Annual bedding plants.
Perennial flowering plants.
Bee-friendly plants.


Don't Worry, Be Happy...

It’s so important we do not get ‘put off’ from gardening with what might feel like rules and regulations that need to be followed. By doing a little straight forward research you will be able to create great things in your garden. We at Van Hage can boast over 40 years of gardening experience and are here to help make your gardening journey as simple and as enjoyable as possible.

Don’t hesitate to come into our stores where our horticulturalists will be only too happy to help advise you.