This Is a book of encouragement, of positivity, of giving it a go! Read it and realise it doesn’t take an expert gardener to create something of beauty, something which brings enjoyment, a garden that will enhance our lives and our environment. Almost to prove the point, the author tackles what most gardeners would consider the most challenging of conditions, shade, and shows that with a little thought, planning and simple experimentation we can make a garden even there and if you can make it there you can make it anywhere – very much like Frank Sinatra in New York, it seems!

In the introductory sections, general advice on assessing the area, general conditions etc.

The largest section of the book is given to a list of plants with description and comment – “I’ve compiled a selection of plants that I really like, that work well in varying shade conditions and that suit smaller spaces – it is not meant to be a comprehensive list but should help to get you started!”  That’s a very fair and accurate introduction to the section – it doesn’t list every plant suitable for shade but enough to get you started with plants that will guarantee you success, an approach which is ideal for the beginner.

From the Plant List

There are sections on assessing your site – how much shade is there, how is the soil, what plants need to grow, suggestions for containers and how to go about planting and keeping them well. All is very straight-forward, simple and encouraging.

There are also some gems of advice: “Finding five minutes a day to step outside and see what’s going on, what’s changed, what’s happy and what’s not is a therapeutic way of unwinding and building a relationship with the space you have created.”

And, “Unfortunately, there isn’t really any such thing as a low-maintenance garden unless you are looking at a square of astroturf, but choosing plants that are happy in the conditions you give them should reduce the amount of time spent looking after them.”

It’s a sensible and practical book with sufficient information for the beginner and interesting suggestions for the more experienced also.

[Shade, Susanna Grant, Bloom/Frances Lincoln, 2022, Softback, 159 pages, £12.99, ISBN:978-0-7112-6956-9]


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