General Discussion:

dry shade garden


Messages posted to thread:

From:Date:Zone:
jo25-Mar-01 01:15 PM EST   
Susan25-Mar-01 03:15 PM EST   
Jo25-Mar-01 04:14 PM EST   
Susan25-Mar-01 09:27 PM EST   
Linda25-Mar-01 09:41 PM EST   
Susan26-Mar-01 08:04 AM EST   
Linda26-Mar-01 12:51 PM EST   
Marie26-Mar-01 02:49 PM EST   
ana26-Mar-01 07:48 PM EST   
Amy27-Mar-01 12:35 PM EST   
bet27-Mar-01 05:42 PM EST   
Carmen28-Mar-01 12:19 AM EST   
Carmen28-Mar-01 12:32 AM EST   
Susan28-Mar-01 08:11 AM EST   
Carmen29-Mar-01 12:27 AM EST   
Karen29-Mar-01 03:18 PM EST   
ana29-Mar-01 07:17 PM EST   
Lynda30-Mar-01 05:09 PM EST   
ingrid31-Mar-01 10:15 PM EST   
Debbie01-Apr-01 01:21 AM EST   
Debbie01-Apr-01 01:58 AM EST   
Josie01-Apr-01 10:21 PM EST   
01-Apr-01 10:26 PM EST   
Connie13-Apr-01 05:17 PM EST   
Linda13-Apr-01 05:30 PM EST   
Diana16-May-01 10:00 PM EST 6a   
Susan17-May-01 09:39 AM EST   


Subject: dry shade garden
From: jo
Zone:
Date: 25-Mar-01 01:15 PM EST

I am in the planning stages for a new garden to be situated in a dry shady area under two mature spruce trees. The only direct sunlight it will recieve will be mornings. Does anyone have suggestions for plants, preferably perennials that would do well under such conditions? I live in Grandview, which is a zone2-3. Thanks in advance.


Subject: RE: dry shade garden
From: Susan
Zone:
Date: 25-Mar-01 03:15 PM EST

Ooohh - a real toughy! Dry shade, conifers (acid soil) and a cold zone. You have really limited choices there! How tall are the trees, in particular how far up the trees has the branches been removed?

While I'm in a warmer zone (southern Ontario), I have a similar problem under a Blue Spruce in my front yard. This spring I'm having the bottom 4-5 feet of branches removed so a little more light will get in there. Then I'm going to add some leaf mulch and lay down a soaker hose to make it easier to get some moisture in there. Then I'm going to plant it with Hay Scented Ferns and Sweet Woodruff, both of which will take dry shade and will survive acid soils and are, incidentally, hardy to zone 3 or so. They are both 'thug' plants - i.e. not particularly well behaved in a garden bed with other plants, but I'm going to let them fight it out amongst themselves under there! I have lots of Sweet Woodruff that I don't want elsewhere in the garden (escapees from the next-door-neighbour) so they're cheap! The ferns I'll need to shop for...

You should take a walk in a local coniferous forest and see what grows there (not much I'll bet!) I grew up in the Maritimes and under the firs that lined the road up to my grandparent's farm, there was blueberries, moss (sphagnum type and club moss), bunchberries, starflowers and chokecherry shrubs (the trees were very tall and the bottom 20 feet or so had no branches) but the Maritimes have a very damp climate so things never got really dry under there. In the deeper, dryer woods, undergrowth was largely ferns and club moss. Use local nature as a guide to see what is possible without taking drastic action (i.e. trying to create a raised bed with better soil without smothering the tree roots - a tricky problem...)

Good luck.


Subject: RE: dry shade garden
From: Jo
Zone:
Date: 25-Mar-01 04:14 PM EST

In regards to Susan's reply, I have trimmed the bottom branches to approximately 5.5 - 6 feet from ground level, so there is limited sunlight. I prefer to use plants that will add some color to the planting, if at all possible.


Subject: RE: dry shade garden
From: Susan
Zone:
Date: 25-Mar-01 09:27 PM EST

If you've trimmed the branches that high, you should have enough light. So you could probably consider most perennials that will tolerate drier conditions as long as they can tolerate the acid soil. The Sweet Woodruff has pretty white blossonms in spring in addition to pretty foliage - it is a 'thug' though so companions have to be pretty tough! Black Eyed Susans usually tolerate pretty dry soil - I'm not so sure of their acid tolerance though. (You might want to do a quick soil test to see just how acid it is...) Cranesbill (perennial geranium) will tolerate fairly dry shade - if you use a soaker hose, the dryness can become less of an issue. 'Hermann's Pride' Lamiastrum (one of the few well behaved cultivars of this species) would do well but it might be marginally hardy or not hardy for you. Can you grow Comfrey? The large-flowered Comfrey tolerates dry shade.

If I were you, I'd still check local coniferous woods to see what grows (and flowers) naturally to get ideas for planting. But if the area gets enough light and is not too acid and you give the plants enough water, you could grow any vigorous plant that you would elsewhere - they have to be tough though to compete with the tree roots... Planting in evergreen shade is a bit of a trial and error process because most books on woodland shade gardens assume deciduous shade. I have a woodland garden under White Pines and have both wet and dry areas. I'm trying all sorts of things and seeing what survives and what doesn't. I'm lucky though to live in a warmer zone (southern Ontario.)


Subject: RE: dry shade garden
From: Linda
Zone:
Date: 25-Mar-01 09:41 PM EST

This comes from a zone 2& garden.

Plant large plants as they will grow very slowly under the spruce. Hosta, Perennial Geranium, solimun seal, fern, pansies, primroses, astilbe, monkshood, delfinium, Varigated dogwood(the cream edges look great with the dark green spruce)Canadian Violets, bunchberries(mine come from the bush)


Subject: RE: dry shade garden
From: Susan
Zone:
Date: 26-Mar-01 08:04 AM EST

Linda - some of the things you list prefer moist soil - astilbe, in particular, does not like dry soil; dogwood also does better with moisture although it's tough and will grow in many places; violets prefer moisture too; I thought of bunchberries too but thry're more of a deciduous forest plant so Jo would have to make sure to add lots of leaf litter. If Jo provides good moisture with a soaker hose, more things are possible but the natural dryness might be too much for some of the plants you list. I have all of them in my garden but they're all either in my damper area or in 'normal' moisture areas; none of them like the dryest parts.


Subject: RE: dry shade garden
From: Linda
Zone:
Date: 26-Mar-01 12:51 PM EST

If extra water is not applied nothing will grow under spruce trees that are not in their natural environment; except maybe goutweed.


Subject: RE: dry shade garden
From: Marie
Zone:
Date: 26-Mar-01 02:49 PM EST

I'm finding this discussion very interesting because I garden in zone 2 and have experienced dry shade under a large birch tree which I am finding very challenging. My sister tried to make a large planter under a beautiful clump birch. It is made out of large landscaped logs in a hexagon shape around the tree. Nothing really thrived in the bed. Last year she filled it with flat rocks. She's still attempting to get some perennial ground covers growing between the rocks, but in the meantime placed several large pots of flowers in the bed. It looked quite attractive like that. I've seen that method used under a spruce. They edged the area with landscape ties and filled the space under the spruce with bark mulch. It looked neat and better than something struggling to survive. I think trying to grow something in such a difficult area may be more trouble than it's worth. Just my opinion.


Subject: RE: dry shade garden
From: ana
Zone:
Date: 26-Mar-01 07:48 PM EST

Judith Adam wrote a very informative book called New City Gardener. It helped me plan my tiny garden last year. In it she suggests some shrubs for dry shade: false spirea zone 2; amur honeysuckle zone 2;wayfaring tree zone 3;nannyberry zone2; How about trying the following perennials: blue himalayan poppy, bishop'shat,elephant ears,pulmonaria,solomon's seal, ostrich fern, fleece flower,lady's mantle ,lily of the valley,goatsbeard


Subject: RE: dry shade garden
From: Amy
Zone:
Date: 27-Mar-01 12:35 PM EST

I appreciate the comments on this subject, as I have a similar situation. This is our second year in a new house in zone 4. I have a bed along the side of my house that faces northeast, so it only gets early morning sun. It also is a very dry area. Last year I planted Hostas and Happy Returns Daylilies which seemed to do OK (the Hostas did get a little dry). This year I would like to try adding crested iris & bleeding hearts, but I'm afraid it might be too dry for the bleeding hearts. I like the idea of adding some shrubs, especially flowering ones. Any good ideas for zone 4? I want so much to have it all planned out!


Subject: RE: dry shade garden
From: bet
Zone:
Date: 27-Mar-01 05:42 PM EST

Geranium maccrohizzum (sp?) is great under my cedar trees. once u get a few plants going they are easily divided for more plants. they are slow the first year (water it the first year) & then it does well & very drought & shade tolerant. looks & smells great. i also use vinca but dont know the zone tolerance. (i am zone 8) also sword ferns do well.


Subject: RE: dry shade garden
From: Carmen
Zone:
Date: 28-Mar-01 12:19 AM EST

I too am continuing to try and find plants that will do well in a partially sunny area that has a very tall (80 ft.) cedar tree. Because I am going to have major watering restrictions this year I took out the hostas and the ferns (they did ok there but needed almost daily watering) I live in zone 8-9. I am looking to find some ground cover that flowers. I don't care much for vinca. Does anyone know of a good perennial geranium?


Subject: RE: dry shade garden
From: Carmen
Zone:
Date: 28-Mar-01 12:32 AM EST

Bet I have taken the name of the geranium you have suggested but am willing to listen to anyone out there with suggestions!

Thank you Carmen


Subject: RE: dry shade garden
From: Susan
Zone:
Date: 28-Mar-01 08:11 AM EST

Carmen - What kind of fern did you have that needed a lot of water? Some do and some don't - the Hay Scented Ferns I suggested for Jo are pretty drought tolerant which is why they're a good choice for dry shade - they can be rampant growers so you shouldn't plant them anywhere you want a well behaved plant! The Sweet Woodruff that I also suggested to Jo has very pretty white flowers and pretty foliage too. It flowers in early summer. It is also a 'thug' re spreading growth so it makes good groundcover in areas where you're not converned about such habits. Vinca can live tolerably well with it, so don't write off Vinca as a possibility. There's a lot to say for it's evergreen foliage...

Re Cranesbill (perennial geranium), I really like the 'bloody cranesbill' 'New Hapshire Purple' which is actually a very hot magenta pink. It's a very vibrant color so it doesn't go with everything but it's a change from softer pinks, blues or whites. I have it next to some Leadwort - I was afraid the intense pink and intense blue would clash but I like them together.


Subject: RE: dry shade garden
From: Carmen
Zone:
Date: 29-Mar-01 12:27 AM EST

Susan:

The ferns were (I say were cause they are outa there!) the garden variety sword fern and japanese painted fern. I had some pulmonaria (lungwort) in there too but it gets so thick with surface cedar roots I think it is hard for some stuff to spread. I moved the pulmonaria today (had bits and pieces all over the yard and put them all together to make larger clump). I went to my local "plant guy" he sells cheap out of his yard. Lo and behold he had a geranium maccrohizzum (sp???) that another poster (Jo maybe) had suggested. Slapped it in right away. I have some of the bloody cranesbill - I'll take a piece and see how it does as well. Trial and error eh? I have some hebe (peigi) (sp?) It makes a nice cover but I must look it up to see if it could handle the acidity.

Thanks again. Anything else you come across I'll be watching under dry shade.


Subject: RE: dry shade garden
From: Karen
Zone:
Date: 29-Mar-01 03:18 PM EST

My garden is in zone 4-5 and is built on beach sand. It has a huge cedar on one side, spruce on another plus other trees and therefore receives only filtered sun. I have ground covers -- ivy, sweet woodruff, vinca and lanium intermixed with bleeding heart, hostas, lily of the valley, primula, dragon's blood sedum and a couple of lilies which are doing well even though some of those plants are supposed to like more moisture. Each year I add impatiens and coleus for colour and I also "plant" pots of caladium which did well with a little watering. For added height I added a white urn with my Swedish ivy. I continue to be amazed at what is actually growing in a couple of inches of soil on top of a sandy beach.


Subject: RE: dry shade garden
From: ana
Zone:
Date: 29-Mar-01 07:17 PM EST

Amy, If the side of your is protected you may be able to try something in the Zone 5 category as well. Remeber to plant about 18 inches to 2 feet from the wall to avoid the rain shadow created by the house and wall. How about Carol Mackie Daphne? zone 4 variegated leaves, kindof slow to establish but gorgeous scent and beautiful architecturally, grows 1mx1m. I have had many compliments on mine.Tarmarisk, zone2,climbing hydrangea zone 5,false hydrangea vine zone5,gray dogwood zone 4, black jetbead zone4,flowering raspberry zone4,clethra alnifolia zone 3,annabelle hydrangea zone3, peegee hydrangea zone3b, mock orange zone4, potentilla zone 4,some sp. are for part shade,serviceberry zone 4, weigela zone 4flowering almond zone 2, as for geraniums, I love the G.endressi "wargrave pink" and the G.sanguineum "splendens?" both are pale pink,"Splish Splash "is white with lavender streaks,Loblaws has a good selection


Subject: RE: dry shade garden
From: Lynda
Zone:
Date: 30-Mar-01 05:09 PM EST

Have you considered goutweed, no flowere to speak of, but attractive varigated leaf, low growing , VERY invasive. I also understand lily of the valley will grow-that is my next one to try. Before we cut the lower boughs I used begonias round the outer edge, and since cutting them geraniums and "silver lace"?? They were annuals just to add colour while I was trying to get things to survive both the dry, acidic soil and freezing temps-(zone2/3)


Subject: RE: dry shade garden
From: ingrid
Zone:
Date: 31-Mar-01 10:15 PM EST

I have a huge (25 or 30 ft) blue spruce whose lower 5 feet of branches I foolishly removed to let in the sunlight and hopefully allow perennials on the ground to grow. Most of the perimeter had new soil added (to decrease the acidity) and I have managed to grow hostas, primulas, and golden creeping jenny on the shadier, east-facing side. But they need babysitting (lots of water and compost added yearly, too). Epimedium and astilbe failed. Lady's mantle is doing poorly next to my hostas but they get a little more sun. The sunnier perimeter received sedums and fleeceflower last year . But as I look out my kitchen window I am resigning myself to the fact that unless I am perpetually willing to water and rejuvenate the soil, I will not be happy with this part of the garden. Right now I am considering putting in some low, spreading junipers with some colour, like Wiltonii, or Calgary Carpet, Prince of Wales, blue prince or Mother Lode types (Juniperus horizantalis). Most of these are extremely hardy in Edmonton (zone 3) especially if they get a little snow over winter. But I just might plug in some bif root cranesbills ( g. macrorrhizum), too.


Subject: RE: dry shade garden
From: Debbie
Zone:
Date: 01-Apr-01 01:21 AM EST

Goutweed, goutweed, goutweed. Linda has the right idea!


Subject: RE: dry shade garden
From: Debbie
Zone:
Date: 01-Apr-01 01:58 AM EST

Goutweed, goutweed, goutweed. Linda has the right idea!


Subject: RE: dry shade garden
From: Josie
Zone:
Date: 01-Apr-01 10:21 PM EST

Up at my trailer park, zone 3, I have growing among the pine needle soil under the trees: ferns, hostas, lily of the valley

and for color: potentilla, day lilies, sedum (autum joy), azalea

The azalea thrives on acidic soil and adds lots of colour all summer long.


Subject: RE: dry shade garden
From:
Zone:
Date: 01-Apr-01 10:26 PM EST

Thanks for all your input on dry shade gardens. Does anyone have any ideas on laying newspaper on the sod now before the snow melts to get a jump on getting rid of the grass?


Subject: RE: dry shade garden
From: Connie
Zone:
Date: 13-Apr-01 05:17 PM EST

I want to keep this near the top of the discussion threads as I am presently trying to decide what to plant on the north side of my house. We get sunshine there early in the morning and then again later on in the evening as it's light here until 11:00 PM. The soil is a bit on the sandy side so any suggestions you can make would be most welcome. Thank you very much! Sincerely, Connie


Subject: RE: dry shade garden
From: Linda
Zone:
Date: 13-Apr-01 05:30 PM EST

This depends on how wide you bed is. I have Rayflower, Delphiniums, ferns, dogwood, highbush cranberries, goatsbeard, and virginia creeper, pansies and forgetmenots(which I didn'r plant)

my advise is to make sure the plants are a good size as they grow slowly in the shade.


Subject: RE: dry shade garden
From: Diana
Zone: 6a
Date: 16-May-01 10:00 PM EST

I'm new to this site and I hope you can help. My questions reegarding my flower garden have been answered by reading past posts but what I really need help with is my lawn (or lack thereof). There is a large maple tree in my neighbours yard whose roots invade and kill the lawn every year. I have decided to nix the lawn and plant ground cover. Any suggestions for a fast growing/spreading plant that will do well in a dry, shady and sandy soil would be much appreciated!


Subject: RE: dry shade garden
From: Susan
Zone:
Date: 17-May-01 09:39 AM EST

For a good list of plants that can take the competion from maple roots, try going to: http://www.silkpursefarm.on.ca/GARDEN_ADVICE/under_maples.htm


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