Wilde side

Kim Wilde answers your gardening questions.

I want to make a herbaceous border in a north-facing garden. What should I plant?
I have chosen predominantly white plants to glow luminously in the shade. For tall, back-of-the-border plants, try Campanula persicifolia var. alba or C. trachelium var. alba. Anemone x hybrida ‘Honorine Jobert’ flowers endlessly from late summer to autumn, and can reach 1.5m. Another late-flowering perennial is Lysimachia clethroides, with arched spikes of small, white flowers on 1m stems. Solomon’s seal has white flowers that hang from arching stems in late spring. For bold, architectural foliage, go for Angelica archangelica, with its large, rounded heads in summer. Lower growing plants could include Primula denticulate var. alba, with dense clusters of flowers, Dicentra spectabilis ‘Alba’ (bleeding heart) and lily of the valley, all of which flower in spring. Snowdrops tolerate shade, as do bulbs such as Hyacinthoides non-scripta, Crocus tommasinianus and Narcissus pseudonarcissus. Oh, and don’t forget hostas.

Any ideas for a child-friendly area in a space that gets lots of sun?
Begin by asking the children what they want. Maybe a little den, or vegetables in pots, or a butterfly garden? You can make a simple den from bamboo or hazel poles with climbers, such as nasturtium, sweet peas or clematis, planted at their base. Remember, children’s skin is vulnerable to sunburn, so shelter is essential. Vegetables are easily grown in pots, and many mini-vegetables can be grown from seed. Or how about potatoes? Tubers can be placed in a light, frost-free place in February to chit (ie, let the eyes develop into shoots) before planting in late March. As for butterflies, they’ll love your sunny spot if you plant things such as aubretia, lavender, Centranthus ruber and Sedum gypsicola ‘Herbstfreude’. Or what about a wildlife pond made from a large, glazed pot containing small aquatic plants? For safety, the water will need a firmly secured, rigid steel mesh above it. Play surfaces include grass or bark chips.