Friday, March 26, 2010

Shade Gardens

Shade gardeners have a great number of gorgeous plants available to them. Here is a list of wonderful plants that will thrive in three to four hours of sun or less.


Coral Bells (Heuchera)

For show-stopping color in the shade garden, coral bells are unbeatable. Recent breeding has produced plants with foliage in just about every color imaginable, from coppery orange to pure black; deep purple to chartreuse.
Coral bells do great in part to full shade, and form low mounds of foliage. They also produce flower spikes of delicate, bell-shaped blooms. Depending on the cultivar, coral bells are hardy in zones three through nine.

Astilbe (Astilbe)
Astilbes (hardy in zones four through nine) grow wonderfully in part to full shade, as long as they are in nice, moist soil. It produces feathery plumes in white, pink, purple, peach, or red in late spring through summer. Astilbe also self-sows readily, but the seedlings are unlikely to look like the original. In a naturalistic, informal setting, this can be a very attractive look.

Bleeding Heart (Dicentra spectabilis)
Bleeding Heart is an old-fashioned, absolutely beautiful plant for shade gardens. In spring to early summer, delicate, dangling flowers will appear, looking like rows of heart-shaped lockets. Bleeding Heart blooms in shades of white, pink, purple, and red, and grows up to four feet tall and three feet wide. It dislikes summer heat, however, and may go dormant if it is allowed to dry out. Not to worry--it will come back just fine in the spring. Bleeding heart thrives in part to full shade in zones two through nine. If it gets sun, morning sun is preferable to afternoon sun, which can be much too hot.


Kerria Japonica: (K. Japonica): If you have a wooded lot with dense shade, this is the summer shrub for you. This tough, disease free, small woody plant bursts into a mass of golden blooms in early summer, continues intermittently all summer, then explodes again in fall. Looks lovely under the trees in a woodland garden. A real show-stopper, the Kerria Japonica will give you years of pleasure, as it slowly grows to a mere 5 feet.
Kerria Japonica is evergreen all year, in all but the most northern gardens. Zone:5-8

Cornus racemosa (Grey Dogwood) zone 4 (1.5-3m) This easily grown shrub has white flowers, followed by white berries on red stalks and purple fall foliage.

Corylus spp. (Hazels) zone 5-9 (3-12m) These shrubs can have various forms from twisted corkscrews to regular pyramidal growth and they produce nuts in the fall.

Hamamelis virginiana (Common Witch-hazel) zone 4 (5m). This fall blooming shrub produces yellow flowers about the time other trees are losing their leaves.

Or plant the variety that blooms in February / March: Hamamelis mollis Boskoop - Chinese Hazel The best antidote to winter is a planting of Witch Hazels. This genus of five species of upright, spreading shrubs or small trees provides the first big display of color, beginning in late February or early March and continuing for six weeks or more depending on the season (the flower petals sensibly curl up if the temperatures plummet). They need at least four hours of sun.

Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle' (Snowhill Hydrangea) zone 2b-9 (1.3m) grows well in deep shade, and bears large trusses of white flowers in August and September.

Kalmia latifolia (Mountain-Laurel) zone 4 (10m) is an evergreen shrub with pink, white or red flowers in mid-June.