No need to fear limited sunlight – grow a shade garden – St George News


Stock photo | Photo by dabkowski/iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

FEATURE – Don’t let limited sunlight keep you from growing a beautiful garden. Make the most of shady spots with proper plant selection and design strategies.

Spiers of bugbane’s white flowers will give height to shaded areas of the landscape, location and date not specified | Photo courtesy of, St. George News

Start the season off with native spring ephemera like hepatica, spring beauties, and trout lilies. These plants grow and bloom early in the season before the trees come out, shading the area. They die soon after flowering as shade-tolerant plants fill the garden. Look for those who are from your area.

Select plants with bright green and lime green foliage that stand out in shady corners of your landscape. Combine them with your favorite plants with dark leaves and flowers that tend to fade in the shade. The contrasting colors help both plants pop.

Use plants with variegated foliage to light up the garden long after their flowers have faded. Siberian bugloss (Brunnera) has forget-me-not blue flowers in spring and variegated heart-shaped leaves. Solomon Seal’s variegated upright stems covered in cream-edged green leaves, white bell-shaped flowers, and yellow fall color offer several seasons of interest.

Barrenwort (Epimedium) also provides seasonal shade color. The heart-shaped leaves are tinged with red and emerge with the flowers in spring. The leaves turn green during the summer and then turn red again in the fall.

Calla lilies, like ‘Night Cap’ with its black flowers and the white flowers of ‘Crystal Clear’, are spring-planted bulbs that thrive in full sun to part shade and can be trimmed to create an elegant display in the garden. interior, Date and place not given | Photo courtesy of Longfield Gardens, St. George News

Add height to those shaded areas with bugbane. The leaves are topped with white spiers of flowers in summer or fall, depending on the variety chosen.

The white or pink flowers of Roger’s Flower brighten up the early summer garden. The large, bold leaves of this moisture-loving perennial resemble those of a horse chestnut.

The narrow leaves of sedges and Hakone grass create a stark contrast to the bold leaves of hostas. For an even bolder statement and focal point, include some elephant ears.

Look for shade-tolerant plants with a variety of leaf shapes and sizes. Differences in texture add interest to the shade garden. Repeat leaf sizes and shapes to unify the garden. Use this same strategy to create continuity between sunny and shady gardens in your landscape.

Include a variety of plant shapes. Use columnar plants to create a focal point and weeping and mounding plants for a flowing feel in the garden.

Lack of sunlight is not the only factor to consider when planning a shade garden. The density of the tree canopy or an overhang can also limit the amount of water which reaches and is available for the plants below. Growing dry, shade-tolerant perennials will help reduce your long-term maintenance. Barrenwort, liriope, coral bells, moss flower, sweet woodruff, and hellebores are fairly shade-tolerant once established.

Make sure all new plantings are well watered and the top few inches of soil are crumbly and moist. Proper watering in the early years will result in deep, drought-tolerant root systems that will help these plants grow and thrive despite dry shade.

When planting under or near trees, be careful not to kill the trees when creating your shade garden. Do not cut or remove superficial roots, creating entrances for insects and disease. Adding as little as an inch of soil to the roots can kill some tree species. Avoid deep cultivation which can damage the feeder roots which are essential for water and nutrient uptake as the majority grow in the top 12 inches of soil.

If there is too much shade to grow even shade-loving plants, consider using mulch to protect the soil and tree roots. Add a chair to relax on and enjoy this cool space as the summer temperatures rise.

Copyright Melinda Myers, LLC, all rights reserved.


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