Plants that perform well in a shade garden—adding texture and color.

Selecting plants for a shade garden is tricky. I have found that there are many variations of light and shade in such an environment and sometimes it just takes a lot of trial and error to get the plants in the right places. There is ‘bright shade,’ ‘moderate shade,’ and ‘total shade.’ All plants need at least some light to grow. I suppose that the shadiest garden would call for a planting of moss and mushrooms—given enough humidity.

As the shade garden articles will be an on-going series, I have started gathering pictures of plants that have fared will in such a location. Other articles on shade gardening may be found if you CLICK HERE.

I think that my number one favorite shade plant is the Lenten rose (helleborus). This plant offers a soft evergreen beauty and puts forth a wonderful burst of color in the late winter to early spring. It is best planted in clumps and will naturalize itself into a colony as time goes by.

Lenten rose (helleborus)--The perfect plant for the shade garden

Lenten rose (helleborus)–The perfect plant for the shade garden

I want to show you pictures of the same area of one garden. We planted some ferns years ago and then planted helleborus to the front of the ferns to fill in. I have watched this part of the shade garden over the years and it is rather interesting. Here is a picture of the spot in March. The ferns are dormant.

lenten roses will multiply over the years by seed, forming a colony

lenten roses will multiply over the years by seed, forming a colony

As the spring and summer progresses, the ferns come up through the Lenten roses and in July, the planting looks like this.

deciduous ferns and lenten roses in the summertime.

deciduous ferns and lenten roses in the summertime.

Around where I live they call the next plant ‘plum yew.’ The botanical name is ‘cephalotaxus harringtonia prostrada.’ I really like this plant. It is rather slow growing until it takes hold after a few years, but it is very hardy and sturdy. As the plum yew grows, it provides a nice soft, evergreen with a fern-like texture.

Cephalotaxus, or 'plum yew'--excellent in the shady border, but give it room

Cephalotaxus, or ‘plum yew’–excellent in the shady border, but give it room

One of the most popular shade plants is the hosta. I read somewhere that there are so many varieties of hosta that a lot of them don’t even have names. One should try several different locations in the shade garden to find just the right place for the hostas. Too much sun will scald the leaves and they won’t grow to their best in too much shade.

hosta is a natural for the shade garden

hosta is a natural for the shade garden

There are a number of varieties of variegated acuba. I think the one pictured here is called ‘gold dust.’ Acubas may grow into rather large bushes and add a spot of yellow here or there. A small problem is that acubas are sometimes attacked by a black looking leaf spot–this is a fungus and is easily treated. Refer to THIS Article for information on controlling the problem.

Acuba offers a bright spot of yellow in the shade garden.

Acuba offers a bright spot of yellow in the shade garden.

A shade plant that is growing in popularity is the heuchera or ‘coral bells.’ There are several varieties with different and interesting leaf colors. The coral bell flowers are produced in clusters on long stems. I would say that the plant would be used mostly for the foliage. It is a reliable perennial

heuchera, 'coral bells'--don't worry, nobody else knows how to pronounce it, either.

heuchera, ‘coral bells’–don’t worry, nobody else knows how to pronounce it, either.

My favorite flower for summer color in a shady area would be the impatiens. They come in a wide variety of colors and enjoy a shady location. They will need a little bit of dappled sunlight, though, to perform at their best.

Spots of color are easy with impatiens

Spots of color are easy with impatiens

A number of spring flowering bulbs will perform well in a shade garden, also. Daffodils and woods hyacinths are among them. These bulbs may be planted in November and will return year after year to delight you with their pretty, fragrant flowers.

hyacinths, daffodils, and a number of other spring blooming bulbs will enjoy the shade garden

hyacinths, daffodils, and a number of other spring blooming bulbs will enjoy the shade garden

The shade garden articles will be an on going project. You may subscribe by signing up in the box at the top right of this article and receive an article a week to your email.

I would appreciate any comments or suggestions on choosing plants for shade gardens. Leave a comment.

And a Word from Our Sponsor:

As usual, I would just love for you click here to go to Amazon and purchase the ebook edition of my wonderful book, Requiem for a Redneck to go on your Kindle. I have also noticed that Amazon now has a free Kindle app for iphones and tablets. Is that cool or what?

If you want a consultation in your yard in N.W. Georgia, send me an email at wherdepony@bellsouth.net

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Preventing inch worm damage on Knockout roses and watching the garden develop

Getting ready for the garden tour—part four

Last Tuesday morning, I was sitting on the porch eating my peach yogurt, drinking green tea, and watching the lovely spring day develop when the phone rang. I looked at the caller i.d. Yep, I had been expecting the call.

“Hello?”

“They’re here,” the female voice replied.

I said, “Ok, I’m on it, thanks a lot.”

She answered, “No problem, glad to help. Good luck with your mission.”

 I had asked Jennifer to watch out for signs of inch worms because she lives down by the river and they show up there first. Last year there had been a bumper crop of inch worms and they had eaten up everything in sight right at the end of April. I thought they might be early on account of the mild weather this year, and I was right. I have been pampering a group of roses on the mountain to have them ready for the Rome, Georgia Junior Service League’s garden tour on April 28 and I sure didn’t want the inch worms to eat up the leaves and flower buds. I finished breakfast and got in the truck. When I reached the job site I found that I was just in time.

inch worm damage on knockout roses

inch worm damage on knockout roses

The damage was minimal but I could tell they had started. I saw a little hole here and another there. The caterpillars seem to come out at night and eat away the leaves. They only stay around a few days before making a cocoon and going into the next stage of their life. But they sure can eat during those few days. I got out my killer liquid sevin and the spray can.

spray inch worms with liquid sevin

spray inch worms with liquid sevin

A good dose was applied to the rose leaves, over and under. I also went around and took care of the Japanese maples and hydrangeas

Spray to cover the tops and bottoms of leaves

Spray to cover the tops and bottoms of leaves

As a reward for myself for a job well done, I went for a walk through the garden to see what was going on and to guess what would be in bloom for the garden tour. I first noticed the plant that we call “English dogwood” which, I think is really a mock orange. If you know the variety, please leave a comment.

English dogwood or mock orange?  (or are both correct?)

English dogwood or mock orange? (or are both correct?)

and here is a close up of the flower:English dogwood/mock orange flower

I stopped to admire the first open flower on the rhododendron by the fountain.

first rhododendron flower this year

first rhododendron flower this year

The hosta has really come out in the last week. I hope the deer don’t get to it.

hosta early spring

hosta early spring

I was really tickled to see the development of the flower buds on the Nikko blue hydrangeas. They just might make it for the show.

Nikko hydrangea ready to bloom

Nikko hydrangea ready to bloom

And the oak leaf hydrangeas have really done some growing. Here is a picture of the working flower buds.

Oakleaf hydrangea early flower bud

Oakleaf hydrangea early flower bud

I now have three weeks left until the tour. This coming week I will open the pool and we will do all of the last minute pruning and put down a hundred or so bales of pine straw.

Next week will be the “big mow” in which we cut about ten acres of hillside grass.

And then the final week will be to get the fountains clean and working, plant the flower beds and urns, and fix everything that ain’t been fixed.

Will John the plant man make it?  Time will tell.

 To read part one of this series, Click Here

For part two of the series, Click Here

And Click Here for part three

 To see a previous article about this lovely landscape garden, CLICK HERE

To read about Johntheplantman and the rednecks, 

As usual, I would just love for you click here to go to Amazon and purchase the ebook edition of my wonderful book, Requiem for a Redneck to go on your Kindle. I have also noticed that Amazon now has a free Kindle app for iphones and tablets. Is that cool or what?

 

If you want a consultation with John Schulz in your yard in N.W. Georgia, send me an email at wherdepony@bellsouth.net

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