Many gardeners view shade as an obstacle, but with the right combination of plants, the shady garden can be a restful oasis rich in color and texture.
Hostas are the perennial favorite for shady areas. These wonderful perennials are prized for their diversity of foliage texture, color and size as well as their ease of culture. For season-long flowering in the shade, nothing beats the stalwart Impatiens in colors from palest pinks to brilliant reds. Although these mainstays of the shade garden are unquestionably valuable, where do you look if you long for something different in your shade plantings? Don't despair! Fortunately, there are plenty of choices.
Alice Longfellow, owner of Longfellow's Garden Center in Centertown, Mo., recommends several varieties developed by Blooms of Bressingham for reliable performance in the shade.
"Customers often ask how they can get more color into the shade," Longfellow says. "The amount of color you can get really depends on how deep the shade is."
Whether you have the dappled shade found under high-branching trees or the medium shade prevalent on the north side of buildings to the dense shade underneath thick, low-branching trees, there's a plant to fill nearly every landscape need. If your yard is typical, you'll probably have varying degrees of shade in different places on your property.
"The perennial Geraniums are fabulous for color in shade," says Longfellow. Choose pink or white-flowering varieties, which show up better in shade than the darker flowering types. Also known as hardy Crane's Bill, Geraniums such as 'Apple Blossom' fill the bill nicely. 'Apple Blossom' (USDA Hardiness Zones 5 to 8) is a Geranium cinereum hybrid that is a new introduction this year. A small compact plant with deeply cut silvery-green foliage, 'Apple Blossom' flowers most of the summer with pale pink flowers showing prominent darker pink veins. This plant tolerates summer heat well when given ample moisture and partial shade.
Longfellow also likes Dicentra, or Bleeding Heart, as an excellent bloomer for partial shade. A Dicentra eximia hybrid introduced in 2000, the variety 'Adrian Bloom' (USDA hardiness zones 3 to 8) is a fringed-leaf Bleeding Heart that produces numerous sprays of crimson-rose flowers in late spring through summer above mounds of gray-green foliage.
Other good choices for partial shade include Tiarella (Foam Flower), Aquilegia (Columbine), Aconitum (Monkshood), Pulmonaria, Astilbe, Heuchera (Coral Bells) and Heucherella (an intergeneric hybrid between a Heuchera and a Tiarella).
Longfellow also advises gardeners not to overlook the importance of using different foliage textures and colors to enhance shady spots. Use gold, white and variegated foliage to lighten the shade and draw attention to the area.
In the Midwest, Powell Gardens near Kansas City, Mo., and the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis are trial sites for Blooms of Bressingham North America to test new varieties for their performance in this region. Chasity Heck, senior gardener in perennials at Powell Gardens, says visitors will find several Blooms of Bressingham varieties growing in both the perennial garden and the rock and waterfall garden this year. Astilbe 'Sprite,' which was the Perennial Plant of the Year for 1994, "holds up well in our summer heat as long as it's in shade," Heck says, as does the ornamental Strawberry, Fragaria 'Pink Panda.'
In light shade in the perennial garden last year, Phlox 'Franz Schubert' bloomed well and was not afflicted by mildew, according to Heck. Campanula 'Chettle Charm' and Dicentra 'Snowflakes' are among other new Blooms varieties that Powell Gardens will evaluate this year.
Don't dismiss those shady spots in your garden as neglected corners where nothing will grow. Make them sparkle with a combination of perennials that shun the sun, and you and your garden will have it made in the shade. Kind permission granted by Blooms of Bressingham to reprint here.. http://www.bobna.com/