Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Shade - A Problem or a Delight: October Meeting

Tricyrtis lasiocarpa loves shade; mulch it well in winter

Shade: whether you love it or hate it, there's bound to be a patch of shady ground in your garden somewhere.  At our October meeting, master gardener and NTHS member Anna Leggatt told us about a long list of shade lovers that will bloom their hearts outs for you.  Here's a list of plants to explore if you are interested in embracing the darker side of your garden.

Epimedium (especially effective in dry shade)
Geranium macrorrhizum (fragrant foliage that is pleasing to some)
Anemone canadensis (a garden thug; keep it contained or it will take over!)
Campanula punctata
Tricyrtis (don't be turned off by the name Toad Lily, this a stunner)

Understory Trees and Shrubs
These trees and shrubs do well under the canopy of taller trees.

Cornus florida
Cercis canadensis (spectacular pink blooms in spring)
Hydrangea quercifolia
Various Japanese Maples
Yew (remember: the berries are poisonous!)
Tsuga canadensis
Rhododendrons (especially PJM)

For Deciduous Shade Conditions
If you have deciduous shade you will likely have lots of light in springtime before the foliage fills in.  Woodland wildflowers will do well in these conditions.  Try a few of these.

Trillium grandiflorum (every Ontario garden needs trillium)
Sanguinaria canadensis "Multiplex" (a stunning double bloodroot)
Iris cristata
Uvularia (more commonly known as Merrybells)
Tiarella cordifolia (a creeping variety that will form a great ground cover)
Mertensia virginica (Virgina Bluebells produce one of the prettiest blue flowers in the garden)
Solomon's Seal (especially the variegated variety for added interest)
Actea rubra and Actea pachypoda (Baneberrys are stunning but produce extremely poisonous berries!  Do not grow where young children might be tempted.)

Spring Bulbs
Bulbs are a great way to have lots of early blooms in the garden.  They take advantage of the spring sunshine before foliage fills in a casts a denser shade.

Anemone Blanda
Species Tulips
Erythronium (hybrids of the Dog-Tooth Violet tend to produce better bloom)
Scilla siberica
Cyclamen hederifolium (a hardy cyclamen; be sure to mulch it well with straw)

A healthy lawn in deep shade is difficult, if not impossible to achieve.  If you require an expanse of green in deep shade, Anna has some advice:  embrace your moss instead.

Ground Covers
Hosta (be sure to pick varieties with thick leaves to deter slugs)
Brunnera (produces a small blue flower reminiscent of the forget-me-not)
Pachysandra (if you find them boring, plant the variegated variety)
Yellow corydalis
Heuchera (be sure to buy selections that have been in the trade for a few years and are proven performers.  First-year heucheras may fail as many new selections are not suited to our climate.)
Lambs Ears
Various Sedges
Vinca (find variegated varieties for added interest)
Ranunculus (beware: it can be aggressive!)
Wild Gingers
Creeping Jenny
Hedera helix (common ivy;  aggressive so keep it in check)

There are plenty of annuals that thrive in shade and produce an endless summer of blooms. 
Fuschia (with hundreds of varieties you're sure to find one to fall in love with)

There is one plant that scoffs at the deepest, darkest shade and the inhospitable growing conditions around tree roots:  goutweed.  The variegated variety, considered pretty by some, is readily available at many garden centres.  However, be very, very cautious when dealing with this plant.  It is invasive, invasive, invasive!  A garden thug like no other.  Don't say we didn't warn you!!! 

With so many selections there's no reason to shy away from the shade.  Start planning your shade garden today.

Remember, our annual Potluck Supper and Members Digital Show is coming up in November.  Check back soon for more details.  Until next time, happy gardening.

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