This past weekend I put together a small corner shade garden. We have a garden spot on one side of our house that only receives 3-4 hours of morning sun per day. We thought that the spot would be a perfect candidate for a shade garden.
When I think of shade gardens I think of foliage. Colorful flowers don't come to mind although there are some out there that will do well in shade. Things like hostas, heucheras, and ferns seem to enter my head first. The hostas and heucheras do flower but are recognized more by their fantastic foliage than their petal prowess.
I began laying the groundwork for the shade garden last summer. I removed most of the sod and mulched with a hardwood mulch. Unfortunately I didn't have a weed barrier layer and many of the weeds I removed came back. I took care of many of them this weekend with the primary pain being the wild strawberries. They are very easy to pull if you grab them from the crown but multiply rapidly if they are left alone for a while. Each plant is capable of becoming it's own mother plant.
We planted several hostas, heucheras and caladiums last year. Two of the hostas are 'Patriots' which I purchased for about $2 each at the end of the season. The heucheras are the 'Palace Purple' variety which were also a discount purchase. I think I picked up 4 of them for around $5. (I know most people don't recommend buying plants in July and August but you can find some really good deals then!)
In the back is a bush that we have never liked there, I believe it is a privet bush.
I removed the bush and found a pot bound root system and a tag that said $30.00 on it. Interesting.
The one good thing the bush did do was hide the gas meter from view.
Since I'm not one to throw any anything usable I transplanted the bush to a spot in the back yard between our yard and a neighbor's yard. I hope it does OK there but I'm afraid it may suffer some transplant shock.
My wife and I have loved Oak Leaf Hydrangeas for a while and really wanted to put one in somewhere. The shady corner seemed like a perfect fit and it became our replacement for the bush. It isn't any special variety just simply Hydrangea quercifolia.
Our 'Patriot' hostas from last season are doing fantastic. You can see in the next two pictures for yourself. I like the dark green foliage with the white variegation. I can't wait until these hostas multiply and fill up our shady garden.
Here is one of our new hostas called 'Ginko Craig' (Hosta sieboldii). It is shorter than the 'Patriots' will be as it will max out around 12 inches. The narrow leaves (at least for hostas) is what attracted us to this find at the Bloom 'N Garden Expo.
Here is a rather strange looking hosta, at least at the moment. Its foliage is very crinkled on the edges. I'm not sure if that's the variety or if there is something wrong with it. It came from a box so there's no telling, at least not yet! It didn't come up last year so I'm just happy to see it.
Here's another expo find. I originally thought this was a heuchera, it looks pretty darn close don't you think? It didn't come with a label and the girl we bought it from couldn't tell us anything about the name of it. I did some digging and found it was actually a Heucherella which is a cross between a Heuchera (Coral bells) and Tiarella (Foam flower). I think this particular one is called 'Stoplight'.
The foliage is obviously what brought it to my attention. I thought the red around the veins and the lime green coloring was very unique and would contrast well with the 'Palace Purple' heuchera. To the left is a picture of our 'Palace Purple' heuchera's leaves. Nice and dark.
With all these plants I still felt that I felt we needed a little more to add into the shade garden to fill in some gaps and create a border. I picked up two $.97 6 packs of coleus and 6 caladiums for $1 each. The caladiums don't look like much right now but they will fill in as the season progresses. Each little pot had several bulbs in them which I moved around to different places to maximize ground coverage. I also had several predominantly green coleus plants that I raised from seed.
Here is how the corner shade garden looks right now. Please keep in mind that several things still need to be done, like mulching! The coleus is rounding out the edges of the garden but I'd like to add another type of edging to define the bed from the lawn. In time the hydrangea will grow much taller and cover the bare wall behind it while the hostas and heucheras will fill in the gaps. Here are two more things I had to think about:
1) where the meeter reader could step
2) where I could step to get to the water faucet.
I'll be putting in large, flat, natural looking stones to serve as stepping stones for both paths.
This little garden is very young and I'll share its progress with you as I go!
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Wednesday, April 30, 2008
A Corner Shade Garden
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Dave is the author of Growing The Home Garden and runs a small nursery business growing vegetables and herbs for local customers in Spring Hill, TN. (Blue Shed Gardens or FB page). He has written for gardening publications, Troy-Bilt and Lowe's and is available for edible garden consulting. Dave gardens organically and when he isn't writing, collecting seeds, or propagating plants he's parenting his 4 children as a stay at home dad.