Messages posted to thread:

JulieY25-Mar-02 01:02 PM EST 7b   
Susan25-Mar-02 03:47 PM EST 6a   
Gerald Burke25-Mar-02 06:44 PM EST 9   
Ed25-Mar-02 09:21 PM EST 5b   
JulieY26-Mar-02 01:09 PM EST 7b   
27-Mar-02 10:22 AM EST   
George Griffin27-Mar-02 03:59 PM EST 5a   
Suzanne White30-Mar-02 12:25 AM EST 6   
rick31-Mar-02 10:58 PM EST 6b   
Heather02-Apr-02 10:09 PM EST 6   

Subject: Shade garden ideas, please!
From: JulieY
Zone: 7b
Date: 25-Mar-02 01:02 PM EST

We recently moved to a house with a shady front garden, with some large firs and cedars blocking a good deal of light.

We'd like to renovate the foundation planting at the front of the house; currently, it has two pathetic straggly rhodos growing out of a bed which is otherwise covered with landscaping fabric and river rock. Ugh!!!

Having previously gardened in a full-sun environment, we don't know where to begin. Is it possible to have something of interest year round?

All ideas welcome - shrubs, perennials, bulbs....anything.


Subject: RE: Shade garden ideas, please!
From: Susan
Zone: 6a
Date: 25-Mar-02 03:47 PM EST

I have become an avid shade gardener after moving to this house in late 1999, leaving behind a large, sunny perennial border. The entire backyard of this house is shade in various degrees - my front yard is sunnier (especially after removing an ugly, overgrown White Spruce this past Saturday...)

As a starting point, invest in a copy of 'Made for Shade' by Judy Glattstein. It's my favorite shade gardening book and is relatively inexpensive (~$20...)

Shade gardening relies heavily of foliage effects but is not without flowers. Give the rhodos a chance - they are magnificent shade shrubs and the evergreen types provide winter interest. Get rid of the landscape fabric and rocks. Don't dig around much near them - they've got shallow roots that don't like being disturbed. Is it dry where they are? If so, I'd be inclided to mulch them with pine needles and oak leaves if you have them or coarse peat and then lay down a soaker hose for watering. It can be difficult to water at the foundation and a soaker hose is the easiest way to do it that I've found.

Here's a list of some of my favorite shade plants with reasons...:

- Japanese Painted ferns - colored foliage.

- Christmas Fern - evergreen foliage.

- hostas of course! Especially ones with white margins or blue-green foliage and/or ones with scented flowers.

- the small dicentras in white or pink; some of them do not die back like the larger bleedingheart (which are also nice if you don't mind the die-back...)

- blue corydalis have a long bloom season although some may go dormant if it gets too hot.

- cimicifuga (bugbanes) give late season flowers and some have interesting dark foliage. If it's very dry re the firs etc., they may not grow well as they like some moisture.

- Astilbe - comes in lots of colors of pink, red and white and, by chosing different varieties, you can get quite a long bloom time. They also like moisture.

- holly and/or mahonia for evergreen foliage and the holly leaves (+ berries if you have both sexes of holly.)

- Beacon Silver Lamium for it's luminous foliage and ability to grow well even in the worst conditions under evergreen conifers!

- Variegated dogwood shrubs provide beautiful foliage in shade.

- Paniculata types of hydrangeas for late summer flowers - doesn't like dry soil.

- Brunnera macrophylla - wonderful forget-me-not blue spring flowers and fascinating leaves that just get bigger and bigger all summer. The variegated ones are very nice.

Geraniums (cranesbill)- I like the ones with hot pink or vivid blue flowers as they stand out best in shade. 'Bevan's Variety' (pink)and 'Brookside' (blue) are two of my favorites.

- violas - they will spread all over the place so you might have to rip them out from time to time.

- Bunchberries (Cornus canadensis), a native grouncover with beautiful white flowers in spring and vivid red (edible but not tasty) berries in late summer.

-hellebores for very early spring flowers and evergreen leaves.

- most of the small bulbs like Snowdrops, mini daffodils, grape hyacinths and scilla will do OK if they're not too deeply under trees.

There are many more things in my garden - I sort of get carried away and buy anything that looks interesting...! Shade gardening is very fascinating once you 'get into it'. There's less color available in mid summer which is why foliage is important but spring and later summer (if you have moisture enough for hydrangeas and summersweet) are very nice. I tend toward a green and white palette with some blues and the hot geraniums as I find that it makes for a more vivid combination that glows nicely in the shade and always looks refreshing in the heat of the summer.

Good luck - I'm sure you'll come to love shade gardening too....

Subject: RE: Shade garden ideas, please!
From: Gerald Burke
Zone: 9
Date: 25-Mar-02 06:44 PM EST

For a colorful annual in the shade, nothing beats impatiens and it will grow almost anywhere, even lives over the winter in the warmer spots in Southern California.

Subject: RE: Shade garden ideas, please!
From: Ed
Zone: 5b
Date: 25-Mar-02 09:21 PM EST

Julie, what can I add to the responses to your enquiry ? You have excellent advice professionbally presented ! GO YE, and do likewise !

Subject: RE: Shade garden ideas, please!
From: JulieY
Zone: 7b
Date: 26-Mar-02 01:09 PM EST

I know! Susan and Gerald, thank you so much for taking the time to post your thoughts!

Susan, you have given me some wonderful ideas - I can't wait to get started now!

Thank you again.

Subject: RE: Shade garden ideas, please!
Date: 27-Mar-02 10:22 AM EST

I have a corner that only gets the morning sun. Last year I put in Hostas and Ferns with a New Guinnea Impatience. I overwintered the Impatience and it will go back out there. My list of new plants for this shady area will include; Ligularia, Japanese Painted Fern, Siberian Iris, Lily-of-the-Valley, Astilbe,Bleeding Heart, and more Impatients. Have fun and good luck.

Subject: RE: Shade garden ideas, please!
From: George Griffin
Zone: 5a
Date: 27-Mar-02 03:59 PM EST

If it's dry shade don't forget The two dependables.

Lily of the Valey and Solomans Seal

Subject: RE: Shade garden ideas, please!
From: Suzanne White
Zone: 6
Date: 30-Mar-02 12:25 AM EST

Hi I just wanted to add goatsbeard to this fabulous list of shade plants that I am already in love with! Have fun.. I am truly addicted to shade gardening after 8 years of living in a house with huge spruce trees everywhere. It is so comfoting to sit under them in the heat of the summer. AHHH. Also don't forget there are so many more intersting annuals than just impatience. Search your garden centre and see what you find.

Subject: RE: Shade garden ideas, please!
From: rick
Zone: 6b
Date: 31-Mar-02 10:58 PM EST

I had yellow snao dragons do very well last year. Thanks for all the suggestions. Panseys were not to bad either.

Subject: RE: Shade garden ideas, please!
From: Heather
Zone: 6
Date: 02-Apr-02 10:09 PM EST

You've been given some great ideas. I would include a Toad Lily or two. Good Luck!

In order to post the forum, you must register to the site.
To register, click here.

If you have already registered, you must log in.
  • New Eden
  • Kids Garden
  • Plant a Row Grow a Row