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Shade Gardens

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As our gardens mature, we find ourselves in more and more shade. This can sometimes be discouraging, as sun-loving plants might fail to bloom or become leggy and sparse. However, shade gardens can provide plenty of colorful plants and an array of springtime interest!

Shade Garden Basics

A simple way to think of creating a shade garden is in layers.

Below your shade canopy are four opportunities for planting in shade:

(1) understory trees, (2) shrubs, (3) perennials and annuals and (4) groundcovers.

  • Understory Trees

Provide color and interest at eye-level

  • Japanese Maples

• Provide graceful texture and beautiful foliage color

• Exquisite small tree with artistically branched stems

• Moderate water

  • Dogwoods

• Sensational spring flowering

• A vigorous, fully branched small tree from bottom to top

• Great for small gardens and highly disease resistant

• Moderate water

  • Shrubs

These plants provide the background architecture for more colorful, seasonal plants

  • Hydrangeas

• The dramatic, colorful go-to shrubs for shade

• Easy-to-grow, elegant landscape shrub that needs rich, well-drained soil, regular watering and feeding

Perennials and Annuals

  • Coral Bells
  1. A shade perennial with fabulous foliage and spring flowers
  2. Many colors including purple, peach, lime green and yellow
  3. Moderate water
  • Astillbe
  1. Showy perennial with beautiful, feathery blooms
  2. Forms graceful border and great in mass plantings
  3. High water
  • Hostas
  1. Comes in many varieties, with the ‘Sum & Substance' as probably the most popular
  2. One of the most commonly grown garden plants
  3. An easy growing plant with shade and water

Groundcovers

  • Brunnera
  1. A perennial, deer resistant groundcover
  2. In springtime, small blue flowers rise above its fuzzy heart-shaped leaves
  3. A low maintenance plant
  • Ajuga
  1. A perennial and one of the most indispensable groundcovers
  2. Also known as carpetweed or bugleweed
  3. Blue, lavender, pink or white flower spikes rise up of its glossy leaves that look fresh and neat
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