Messages posted to thread:

Justin17-Oct-02 10:05 AM EST
Susan17-Oct-02 07:25 PM EST 6a   
Sue18-Oct-02 09:02 PM EST 6a   
JoanneS23-Oct-02 02:09 PM EST 3a   

Subject: Shade Gardening
From: Justin
Date: 17-Oct-02 10:05 AM EST

We live beside Lake Huron - located in a forest.

I want to add color to our landscape however we are located in a forest that has limited sunlight.

What are the best shade plants to use?

Thanks, Justin

Subject: RE: Shade Gardening
From: Susan
Zone: 6a
Date: 17-Oct-02 07:25 PM EST

You lucky person! It sounds like you have my dream property! How big is your lot?

In woodland gardening, the dominant colors are green and white and texture and foliage contrasts are a very important element in the garden. Which is not to say that other colors are not going to be there.... Spring can have more colors with bulbs and rhododendrons and such. Foxgloves can add early summer color. Late summer color can come from things like grapeleaf anemones (I think you're zone 4 so Japanese anemones might not be hardy for you...), asters on sunny edges, and bunchberry fruit. Fall color is dominated by foliage changing color.

If you're starting a garden from scratch, the first thing I'd do is identify as many of the existing trees, shrubs and herbacious perennials as you can. (You need to know if you have something like poison ivy so you can avoid it! But you've probably also got plenty of desirable plants too. You'll need to take a full growing season to identify them all because some things (e.g. trilliums, Virginia bluebell and dog-toothed violets) usually go dormant for the summer so you might not know they were there if, for example, you only moved to the peoperty in July...) While assessing the existing plants, also note light and soil conditions - where are there sunny spots?; where are the damp spots/dry spots? and so on. You'll be surprised at what you can get to grow in the first 4 feet or so of the forest edge, especially facing southeast. And small sunny glades can be spots of color, especially if they are moist (think Siberian irises, daylilies, foxgloves, Cardinalflower, Joe Pye-weed, filipendula...lots of things...) Put paths through the garden to lead from one place of interest to another. Put the most interesting plants (either because of fruit, flowers or foliage) close to the paths and let things fade to groundcovers (e,g ferns, wild ginger..) in the background. No woodland is complete without some columbines, forget-me-nots and Jacob's Ladder romping about and self-seeding.

If you type woodland in the search box on the top right side of this page, you will come up with a number of things that might interest you. The first three books that are listed are three books I refer to often in planning/planting my little woodland. In the 'documents' listing, click on 'show all results for documents' and look for the three articles called 'Gardening in the shade' - in parts 2 and 3, there is a listing of about 140 plants that I grow in my woodland garden. Not all of them would be hardy for you but it might give you a starting place for thinking about plants to add. In the past 2 months, I've expanded my garden a fair bit so the plant list in those articles doesn't include all my plants any more - for example, I've been adding lots of ferns in the new areas.

I guarantee you'll love having a garden in a forest. My little woodland garden is, by far, my favorite garden area!

Subject: RE: Shade Gardening
From: Sue (
Zone: 6a
Date: 18-Oct-02 09:02 PM EST

Hi Justin: Try "" - it's easy to use and amazingly helpful. Good luck with your garden to die for!

Subject: RE: Shade Gardening
From: JoanneS (
Zone: 3a
Date: 23-Oct-02 02:09 PM EST

For brighly coloured annuals, you cannot beat impatiens and begonias. Both are continuous bloomers in full shade. I have them in pots and in the ground. If on a budget, you can take cuttings and root the impatiens. The begonia "tubers" (if that is the correct word) can be lifted in the fall and stored for the next year.

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