The shade garden is the one bed in our garden that I built from scratch (ignoring the cotoneaster and shrubs that were already on the boundary). This meant that I had control over the soil and worked in a good deal of mushroom compost and shredded garden waste. It also meant that I could layer the garden for interest in all seasons.

Hellebores are great for cheering up the mid-winter blues and I've planted a range of them (helleborous niger, h. orientalis, h. foetidus). Their foliage looks great all year round and their flowers are a great source of early nectar for bees. The beautiful flowers of the h. orientalis in particular never fails to take me by surprise on an otherwise miserable winter's day.

Hellebores have beautiful foliage and gorgeous flowers that provide great early season food for bees on warmer days.

Lower to the ground there is more stunning foliage, that of cyclamen coum Silver Leaf, with contrasting, dainty dark pink flowers bobbing their heads patiently in the vicious winds. These were planted last summer as corms and I'm hoping they will self seed and spread.

Gently multiplying too are the snowdrops (galanthus nivalis 'Flore Pleno' and 'Common Snowdrop'), scattered among the bed. These were planted two springs ago 'in the green' and I hope to spread them over the next few years as their clumps begin to expand.

So while the rest of the garden is looking solid but a little bare, the shade garden shines.

Cyclamen coum Silver Leaf with galanthus nivalis (snowdrops) Flore Pleno and Common Snowdrop in the background.