The temperatures in the UK are comparable to those of the temperate zones in the United States and many of the plants used on the west side of the Atlantic Ocean do just as well on the east side. Shade loving plant are an essential element to any landscape. Shady areas are in the shadow of buildings, fences and tall trees and hedges. Any area that gets from three to six hours of sunshine a day is considered partial shade and less than that is considered full shade.
Japanese laurel (Aucuba japonica) is an evergreen shrub that will grow from 8 to 10 feet tall and produces many stalks, each one with many 8-inch leaves, which can be all green or variegated. The plant will be either male or female. The male plant produces small purple flowers with yellow antlers and the flowers of the female plants produce bright red berries. The Japanese laurel is a native of Japan and is grown in temperate zones around the world. It loves partial to full shade and can go without water for a short time, but it will not look the same as it does when it gets a regular drink. Plant Japanese laurel under large trees or in the shade of a large fence.
Red barrenwort (Epimedium x rubrum) is a ground cover that grows to 12 inches tall and spreads out to 18 inches wide. The plant produces heart-shaped leaves that start out red, turn green and then back to red in the fall and red and yellow flowers that bloom from mid to late spring. The plant needs partial to full shade and dry to moist, well-fertilized soil.
Lily-turf (Liriope muscari) is also known as liriope and border grass and is not a true grass. It is a member of the lily family. It produces thin dark green leaves that grow from 10 to 18 inches long and small purple, violet or white flowers on tall spikes. When the flowers are gone, they are replaced by small black or white berries. The flowers are not easy to see since they grow inside the clumps of leaves rather than above them. It is a very hardy and adaptable plant, able to grow in shade or sun and is able to stand up to foot traffic. Lily-turf has an extensive root system, making good at controlling both erosion and weeds and helps it to grow on steep, rocky slopes.
Japanese aralia (Fatsia japonica) produces leaves that are up to 12 inches wide that grow on stems that grow to 8 feet tall. Mature plants produce white flowers that grow in small clusters on white stalks and black fruit when the flowers are done. It is a native of Japan that is grown worldwide. The plant likes a rich, moist, well-drained soil and partial to full shade. Japanese aralia looks its best when it is planted away from more showy varieties. It does well in Japanese style gardens or by a patio or courtyard.