I've heard of Beth Chatto for years but had never actually read anything by her. This is a year-long account of just part of her forty-year-old garden in flat, windy Essex, focusing on "Shade-Loving Plants for Year-Round Interest" as the subtitle has it.
Engaging, discursive, informative, and with spectacular photographs. My notes, either to find out more or to consider adding:
Magnolia x loebneri 'Leonard Messel' - I would like a magnolia, but I need a sweet little woodland tree, not a towering species. Maybe this one? Martha Stewart says it's a shrubby tree 15-25' high and 10-20' wide.
In early spring, precocious 'Leonard Messel' produces dark-purple buds that open into star-shaped, dark-pink to purple blossoms with white interiors before its leaves unfurl. The long, wavy, frost-resistant petals open wide to expose stamens. This compact, shapely, small tree has leaves that mature from coppery to dark green.
Narcissus 'Cedric Morris' - drooping flowers with green shading
Galanthus plicatum 'Beth Chatto'
Cut back old epimedium leaves in early February to display the new flowers - though I have never done this and the flowers seem to lift up above the leaves just fine.
Sarcocca - sweet box - scented -- this keeps coming up, I really need to investigate
Plant dark-flowered hellebores among leucojum and lamium maculatum 'White Nancy' to show off the blooms.
Wild peony - paeonia mlokosewitchii, "familiarly known as Molly the Witch" with pinkish bronze stems, grey-green foliage, and cool, lemon-yellow flowers filled with gold stamens.
Wikipedia says it is "native to the Caucasus Mountains in Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Dagestan, where it grows on rocky slopes in oak, hornbeam, or beech forests." Here's their picture of it.
Anemone nemerosa 'Vestal' - double white
Transplant euphorbia to the back shrub border, where it will enliven shady ground.
Smilacena racemosa - cf. to Solomon's Seal, fragrant
Astrantia major involucrata 'Shaggy White' and 'Claret Red' "with upturned heads, each made of many narrow segments filled with quivering creamy centres." The late lamented Paghat's Garden describes it as needing moist, humusy soil so it may not do well in my dry clay.
Pileostegia viburnoides - self-clinging climber with frothy cream flowers in summer; this seems to be my old friend the climbing hydrangea, said to grow up to 15-30 feet so too much for me
Geranium phaeum or nodosum - thrives in dark shade. The Missouri Botanical Garden says
Easily grown in average, medium to wet, well-drained soil in part shade. Unlike most other species of geranium, this species performs best in shade including close to full shade conditions. Prefers moist, humusy, well-drained soils. Intolerant of the heat and humidity of the deep South. Foliage may decline in hot summer climates after flowering, at which point flowering stems can be removed and foliage trimmed both to shape and revitalize plants. If not deadheaded, some self-seeding may occur in ideal growing conditions.
Cimicifuga - now called actea - plant against the fence where the ivy sprawls now?
Hellebores 'Kochii group'
Bowles' Garden grass with epimedium under the maple tree? But I think it needs moisture, so Hakonechloa comes to the rescue again.
Heuchera - she says to replant in fresh soil every few years, which I had been thinking mine need, though she doesn't say when to do it. Will try this fall.