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Sensational in the Shade

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Shade doesn’t have to be dull and boring. Even if you have areas in your landscape that rarely see the sun, you can plant gorgeous, colorful plants that will put on a spectacular show.

What type of shade do you have? Planting instructions usually label a plant as full or partial sun – partial sun also means partial shade! But, some plants can actually withstand  full shade. You’ll also want to consider the moisture situation in your shade garden.  In some regions, even shady gardens experience “dry shade.” These places usually gets precipitation in winter and early spring, but their summers are hot and rainfall infrequent. Plants need supplemental waterings throughout the growing season. “Wet shade” refers to areas with heavy clay soil and inadequate drainage. Amend the soil with large amounts of compost to help make the soil more friable.

Where is your shade? There are literally hundred of plants that will brighten those dark spaces.

A broad swath of shade beneath large deciduous trees? Try the dynamic lavender-purple groundcover Fairy Wings Lilafee.

A narrow side border? Fill it with fragrant Lily of the Valley.

Below eaves and overhangs? Combine astilbe and hostas for a vibrant, season-long display.

Some of the most popular of plants that thrive in shade include astilbe, bleeding hearts, hostas, begonias, toad lilies, heleborus, Lily of the Valley, foxgloves, and sea holly. There are also lots of sun-loving plants, such as lilies, daylilies and peonies, that can perform almost as well in dappled sun or afternoon shade. If you have a little  shade in your yard but you love these plants, it might be worth some experimentation.

Don’t forget that plants prized mostly for their foliage can be just as striking as blooming plants. Colorful coleus, caladium, lamium, heuchera and euphorbia will radiate in dark spaces.

So if you’ve been laboring under the assumption you can’t have traffic-stopping shade gardens, I hope you try some of the shade plants listed here. Most of these perennials require little maintenance, and can light up the shadiest spaces in your landscape with brilliant color, intriguing forms and rich texture.


About Mary Pat

Mary Pat has written 23 post in this blog.

March 4, 2014
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