Working With Shaded Gardens

Place Plants in Shaded Areas or Add to a Rock Garden

Many shade gardens are naturally cool and moist. They are usually surrounded by deep-rooted trees and copious amounts of natural mulch from fallen leaves. Their soils are normally rich, deep, and easy to dig. These are the easiest shade spots in which to garden, as shade plants thrive under such conditions. In such places, plantings can be made directly into the ground with little special preparation.

In light shade, the day-lily (Hemerocallis) is most accomodating, flourishing in both dry and damp situations. A tenacious grower once established, it requires very little attention. The lily-like flowers are mostly in shades of yellow and orange. The long thin leaves are also an added attraction, and because of their dense growth tend to smother out weeds. Another spectacular early summer flowering perennial, which grows best in moist ground, is Astilbe. There are several varieties with colors ranging from white to pink, red, salmon and purple-red. The plume-like flowers are carried well above the handsome foliage.

For those who wish to include at least one aromatic plant in their collection, the hardy North American beebalm (Monarch) will fill the bill. This easily grown member of the mint family produces loose heads of red flowers on 2-foot stalks and is particularly attractive when massed against a dark background.
Although they do not produce flowers, ferns are ideally suited for deep shade. Their lacey foliage makes them ideal companions for many flowering plants, or as lone groups in the wild garden. The American hair fern, lady fern, hay scented fern, Dryopteris filixmas (the imposing broad fronds reach a height of 2 feet), cinnamon fern, Christmas fern, and the ostrich fern (also with tall imposing fronds), all thrive in a deep, woodsy soil, requiring plenty of moisture at the roots during the summer and they benefit from a top dressing of rooted leaves in spring.
Courtesy of: The Shaded Garden – by D.A. Brown