As the Stones’ Made in the Shade thumped out on the car stereo, we travelled to our favourite nursery to buy three plants that flourish with little sunlight.

The Japanese aralia or paper plant, Fatsia japonica, is a brilliant medium-sized foliage shrub with glossy evergreen leaves and ivy-like flowers, followed by black berries.

Truly made for the shade, it can flourish as a house plant, and is actually a shrub for all locations including hot, sunny spots.

It can be planted now in moist, well-drained, fertile soil, with added well-rotted compost or manure.

Isle of Wight County Press: The japonica flourishes in shade and sun.The japonica flourishes in shade and sun. (Image: Richard Wright.)

A question for you...

  • Can you help?
  • Despite exhaustive efforts I have been unable to source seeds of my favourite cucumber, the Japanese Natsuhikari. They seem to have completely disappeared.
  • Email fao Richard Wright's gardening column and we will pass on any information!

Isle of Wight County Press: Why not consider a euphorbia?Why not consider a euphorbia? (Image: Richard Wright.)

You should keep Fatsia japonica well-watered until it settles in, and then only water in dry conditions.

Semi-ripe cuttings can be taken in late summer to make new plants.

Euphorbias made-up the other two plants on our shopping list last spring to occupy space in the new bed in a spot which receives slightly more sun than Fatsia.

Euphorbia is a very large genus, with plants ranging from the small Christmas poinsettia and cowboy cacti to large shrubs like Euphorbia mellifera.

The shrubby, hardy, varieties make excellent garden plants with their vibrant greens and yellows.

Isle of Wight County Press: Green is the colour, this week.Green is the colour, this week. (Image: by Richard Wright.)

Top tips for Isle of Wight gardeners

  • Pinch out the tips of fuchsia plants and sweet pea plant shoots, to encourage bushy growth this summer.
  • Now any risk of frost has passed is the ideal time to plant rhododendron bushes.
  • Prune penstemons now by cutting back all the old shoots to the base - provided there is new growth there. If there are no new shoots, prune just above the lowest set of leaves.
  • Feed raspberry canes, fruit bushes and fruit trees to encourage good crops this season. Apply a slow-release fertiliser, such as chicken manure pellets around their base too.
  • Hand pollinate peaches and nectarines with a soft-bristled paint brush for improved crops.

Isle of Wight County Press: The Christmas poinsettia is a familiar example of euphorbia.The Christmas poinsettia is a familiar example of euphorbia. (Image: Isle of Wight County Press.)

It is said that Euphorbias generally require a sunny position and fertile, well-drained soil, but most – known as spurges - are shade tolerant and will thrive beneath trees and shrubs as ground cover.

Euphorbia x martini is a lovely spurge, bearing dark grey-green leaves and clusters of upright bracts in lime-green with red eyes.

The variegated variant Ascot Rainbow looks good next to it, both requiring the same care.

Plant sale

  • The Hardy Plant Society is holding its massively popular annual plant sale today (Saturday, April 22) between 2pm and 4pm, at Wootton Bridge Community Centre, Brannon Way.

When planting pot-grown euphorbias from a nursery, dig a generous hole and add some compost or leaf mould, water-in well and mulch to retain moisture and suppress competitor weeds.

It is not especially long-lived but can gradually spread to form a low, weed smothering carpet, its bracts lasting until summer before they gradually fade.

It is advised to cut them back close to ground level before the first frosts but more often you can get away with not doing so in sheltered positions here.

As in so many respects we are so lucky on the Island.