I have a small semi-shaded patch of garden, where I have sown common bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) seed over several years; they are now growing well, possibly going to flower for the first time this year.
But after the bluebells have finished in late spring, this patch of garden is left with bare soil for the rest of the year, which isn't great for the bluebells because they're used to moist shady woodlands. I would like to plant something else to give ground cover for the summer.
- the bluebells must be able to sprout and flower from March through May without interference and without the display being compromised
- the companion plant must cover the ground for the summer, to prevent it from baking
- the companion plant must cope with me adding rotted leaf litter as a soil improver every winter
One piece of advice I found suggested Hostas:
Hostas are some of the best and easiest companions for spring blooming bulbs in partial to full shade.
Larger hostas tend to emerge a bit later in the spring, which is perfect timing for pairing with spring bulbs. They won’t crowd the bulbs out when they are in bloom, but they will gladly unfurl their leaves like an umbrella over them once they are spent.
I don't particularly like hostas much, so I wondered if there were any other suitable plants. The local woodland (north England) which the bluebell seed came from doesn't have many inspirations; it's mainly brambles throughout summer.