Shade and Woodland Plants

Diana Garner

01494 758347

Members of the Shade and Woodland Plants Group are a community of gardeners with a special interest in plants adapted to grow in these conditions. Most gardens have shade, whether under trees or in areas overshadowed by walls or buildings. The ground may vary greatly from soil that is rich and moisture retentive to that which is poor and dry. Here, perhaps more than in other areas, we need to put the right plant in the right place to ensure a good display.

With members scattered across the UK and abroad, the Group aims to establish an exchange of information and advice about growing shade tolerant plants and from this create a web-based archive available to the public.

Annual Meeting and AGM

The Group meets in the spring, and in different parts of the country which should give all members the opportunity to attend at least some of these events.  The morning includes a lecture, plant sale and raffle, followed by an afternoon visit to a nearby garden or nursery.  Our meeting in 2023 took us to Oxfordshire with an entertaining talk from Timothy Walker and a visit to Mike and Ann Collins wonderful garden.

Go to Upcoming Events on this page to find the details of the 2024 meeting.

4 Seasons in the Shade

4 Seasons in the Shade is the new quarterly e-newsletter featuring articles about plants adapted for shade and images of plants and gardens, as well as hints and tips from our members. Members of the Shade & Woodland Group will receive each issue, which will continue to be available on the website at a later date.

The Editor welcomes all contributions at

Read editions of Shade Monthly dating back to 2016 here.

Facebook Group

Our new Facebook group allows all HPS members to share their photos, comments and experience of growing in the shade. You will be asked to answer 3 questions when requesting admission to the group.

Visit our Facebook Group here

Membership of the Group

Membership of the Shade and Woodland Plants Group is open to all Hardy Plant Society members.

The group’s annual subscription will run from 1st January to 31st December each year:

  • £5.00 per annum or £6.00 for two people living at the same address
  • Overseas members: £7 p.a. (£8 joint), or £20 (£23 joint) for three years.
  • Payments can only be accepted in sterling.

Joining the Group

Join this group online by visiting our Shop.

Download the membership application form by clicking here then either:

Electronic application (preferred)
Please e-mail personal details as requested on the Application Form then make an electronic transfer from your bank account using the following details:

  • Account: Shade and Woodland Plants Group
  • Sort code: 52-10-19
  • Account No: 14891530
  • Reference: Your last name and HPS membership number (please make sure you include this so we can link your payment to your application). Your membership number has 6 digits, starting with the figure 8, and can be obtained by contacting

Postal application

Please download and complete the application form and send it with a cheque payable to ‘HPS Shade and Woodland Plants Group’ to the Membership Secretary at the address given on the form.

Payment by Standing Order

You may wish to complete the shadestandingorder form so that your annual subscription is paid on 1st January annually. This simplifies the administration of subscriptions and many HPS members already do this for their national subscription.

Winter Zoom Talks

Talks are free to Shade & Woodland Plant Group members who will be sent joining details nearer the date.

  • Tuesday 30th January 2024: John Lonsdale (USA) –  ‘Woodland Treasures’
  • Wednesday 7th February 2024: Jenny Rose Carey (USA) – ‘Glorious Shade’
  • Thursday 22nd February: Dr Andrew Ward (UK) – Woodland Gems Saturday


  • 27th April 2024: The 10th Annual Meeting and AGM will be held at the Colwall Park Hotel, Malvern WR13 6QG. Full details here

Shade and Woodland Plants



Photo Competition

November 25, 2023

Photo competition The winner of the photo completion in the autumn issue of 4 Seasons in the Shade has been chose and will be announced in the winter issue – out in early January....

Save the Date

November 24, 2023

Save the Date The Eleventh Meeting and AGM will be  on Sunday 30 March 2025  in Devon, and will include a visit to Keith Wiley’s iconic garden, Wildside....

Five for Shade, Joe Sime

January 16, 2014

I am glad to say that most gardeners are beginning to realise that areas of shade in their garden are not a problem, but rather an enormous opportunity. However most of the garden centres have not caught up with this, and are yet to offer the range of shade plants that they should. If you want to try the more...

Woodland Treasures – a Talk by Des Martin

June 16, 2013

On the first warm day of April, when we should all have probably been tending our gardens, a large number of hardy planters turned up to hear Des talk about the large variety of woodland plants that he grows in his nursery. Des did not do the normal talk with slideshow but used the plants that he had brought which...

A few easy hepaticas and how to enjoy them, Glenn Shapiro

December 16, 2012

I have made a choice of nine very different but readily available hepaticas, which are happy in our North West gardens. Hepatica acutiloba comes from America and Canada. The name ‘acutiloba’ refers to the fact that the leaves are more pointed than in the other American species H. americana (which prefers drier conditions than we can easily provide). I recommend...

Epimediums, Don Witton

April 16, 2012

I have developed a great affection for epimediums in recent years. They will never be the superstars of the herbaceous border but they are very useful perennials, which make excellent ground cover for difficult places, eg a dark corner or dry shade under shrubs and small trees. Some have very attractive, often evergreen foliage and the alluring petite flowers come...

Gardening in Damp Shade, Mandy Featherstone

April 16, 2012

Boggy, squelchy, claggy and shady spot? Or is that just an extra dimension in your garden? Adopt the latter mentality and create yourself a ‘cool soft terrain’ instead. We most of us admire the mosses, lichens and ferns tucked into crevices on our woodland walks, not to mention the soft terrain underfoot, so why not embrace such conditions in your...

Actaeas, Sue Ward

September 16, 2011

Walking around my garden dead-heading dahlias in late August, the air is full with the sweet honey–scented flowers of the actaeas, such good plants for the late summer and early autumn borders. The tall elegant spires of white flowers that arise from equally good foliage have a charm that takes me by surprise every year. The late summer varieties quietly...

Garden Hepaticas, Sue Ward

April 16, 2011

Hepaticas are small clump-forming perennials and are in my favourite plant family, Ranunculaceae. Flowering begins in late February or early March and new leaves start to unfurl just after the flowers. The leaves usually have three lobes, sometimes five, most are mainly green but there are some plants which have leaves variegated or marbled. Hepaticas grow in the wild on...

Plants for Dry Shade, Val Garrett

December 12, 2010

Ryarsh Village Hall was full to capacity and a sea of eager, expectant faces greeted Kevin Hughes as he stepped forward. Somewhat sheepishly he said that he must start with a confession. We held our breath. Had he perhaps brought the wrong lecture? Worse still, no lecture? No, but the plant list, copies of which we now clutched like holy...

More about toad lilies, Malcolm Michael

June 16, 2010

The trouble with this overlooked family of perennials is that they are not spectacular and many must be put off by the exhortation to plant in moist conditions in shade. Like Annie I have found them far more adaptable than textbooks suggest and I prefer the safety of a container to the vulnerability of a border position. Snails and slugs...

How to deal with dry shade, Joe Sime

January 16, 2010

Many gardeners fail to see a shady spot as the horticultural blessing that it is. In particular they struggle with dry shade. If you are one of these then just try the easy step-by-step guide below. START Is the soil bone-dry even in the winter and early spring? If ‘Yes’ go to (12) Is the soil good i.e. with reasonable...

Toad Lilies, Anne Godfrey

December 16, 2009

One the best things about Toad Lilies is that they provide interest in a shady border from late summer into autumn, when very little else is in flower. Tricyrtis naturally occur in the damp woodlands of China, Japan, Taiwan and Korea. It is no surprise then that the text books will tell you that these plants enjoy humus rich, moist...

The woodland garden – five years on, Organoman

July 16, 2009

Over the last five years, the woodland garden has definitely developed into my favourite part of the garden. Why? I am not altogether sure. Perhaps out of necessity I spend more time there than elsewhere in the garden. Perhaps because I like a challenge. Our very dry and in places quite deep shade is certainly that. Or perhaps because it...

Those bells, those bells, Ben Green

October 16, 2008

About 25 years ago, whilst walking in a wooded area of the Cambridge University Botanic Garden, I was bedazzled by a beautiful American belle. Despite being happily married with two lovely daughters I fell hopelessly in love. The love was unrequited but I pined for a re-acquaintance. This came years later after the death of my wife. It was on...

A tale of Trilliums, John Rogers

September 16, 2008

On the last day of the group’s trip to Ireland in 2004, I bought a Trillium luteum. It was an average plant with just two leaves, if memory serves, in a four inch pot. When we got home it was duly planted in a suitable spot and it grew well, dying down at the end of the season. The following...

Roscoea, JMS Pearce

November 16, 2007

One of the less commonly found plants for shaded places is of the genus Roscoea. It is one of the few members of the Family Zingiberaceae (the ginger family), which can grow outside tropical or subtropical climates, because it is a native of high altitudes in Sichuan and Yunnan in China. The genus is named after William Roscoe, an ‘abolitionist’,...