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Basic Ideas for a Shade Garden

 

Shade spots are perfect for bursts of color mixed in with lush greenery

A shady hillside or tree-covered garden spot can become a colorful palette of blooms beginning in spring and running all the way through fall. There are so many choices at garden centers and in catalogs for shade-loving plants.

Shaded areas can often be a challenge, but once they are prepared and planted, you'll find there is often less watering and less maintenance involved.

Hostas are the old standby for greenery, summer blooms, fast growth, and hardy overwintering. The larger varieties spread and give needed height as a backdrop to some of the colorful species. One new variety available in 2006 is the Captain Kirk Hosta. Leaves are gold edged in green with lavender flowering in mid-summer. It spreads to 2-1/2 feet and about 1-1/2 feet high. A smaller hosta is the "Remember Me." It, too, has mid-summer lavender blooms. Leaves are yellow, turning to white, with green edges. The Fire and Ice Hosta is a dwarf variety with gorgeous white leaves edged in a hunter green. It spreads to 15 inches in width and height. Again, it features lavender flowers.

For feathery height, you can't beat astilbe in the amazing array of reds, pinks, creams, and purples. The Ostrich Plume astilbe sends out salmon-colored plumes through mid-summer. It grows to 2-1/2 feet high. Lavender astilbe is a good clumping variety. It's a mid-summer bloomer and will add a perfect sequencing to early spring and late summer flowers.

Bleeding hearts are a perennial favorite and can create a showering effect for low, bushy plants. They grow to 3 feet high. White Bleeding Heart will create a dramatic contrast with its dangling flowers. A special feature: it blooms in spring to summer and will often come back in cooler fall weather. The Old-Fashioned Bleeding Heart is a longtime favorite of shade gardeners. Dark pink weeping flowers will be the perfect blend to its white counterpart.

Early bloomers include the Stoplight Heucherella. It's a low-profile plant with greenish-yellow leaves with overstated red veins. White flowers begin in spring and last through the early part of summer.

For even more height, the Queen Charlotte Anemone is a good choice. It's a perennial that will bloom from late summer through fall. Stems tower at 3 feet high with delicate pink blooms.

For a touch of the exotic, try a Toad Lily. It's an easy-maintenance type and will sport dramatically patterned blooms through fall. It is also a taller plant reaching a height of 3 feet.

There are many other species to choose from: Chantill Heuchera, Lily-of-the-Valley, Sweet Kate Tradescantia, Blue Veronica, and many types of ferns.

It is great fun to mix and match textures, patterns, and colors to see what type of shade garden you can grow.

 

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