My Made in the Shade Garden

In the shade of the pin oak tree grass never grew well; to me this was an ideal opportunity to expand the garden beds. The feature plants were to be three large hostas, the first hybridized varieties I ever bought: H. ‘Sum and Substance,’ H. ‘Big Daddy,’ and H. ‘Halcyon.’

For ground cover I transplanted some soft foliaged Sweet Woodruff (Galium odoratum). To add color to the bed, I transplanted a purple azalea from the front porch bed.  For contrasting leaf shapes I added three lady’s mantles (Alchemilla mollis) and a spiderwort (Tradescantia virginiana) for its strap like leaves and dark purple blooms. Mid-height interest would be provided by shield ferns and a taller-sized legacy geranium (Geranium maculata).  A meadow rue, (Thalictrum ‘Black Stocking’), Solomon’s seal (Polygonatum biflorum) and some columbine (Aquilegia) also added varying heights. Astilbes were added for their feathery foliage and mid-summer bloom. Edging plants consisted of Heucheras, Japanese painted fern, prim roses (Primula), foam flower (Tiarella), and balloon flowers (Platycodon). In the fall I planted some spring flowering bulbs: tulips, grape hyacinth (Muscari), alliums, and scillas. Annuals such as Impatiens and Cleome provided season long color. I also added a Mother’s Day gift hydrangea, a florist’s hydrangea that I didn’t expect to live. It still lives and occasionally blooms – if I remember to remove the overshadowing hosta leaves.

I must explain that the pin oak also edges the driveway and that means this shade garden grows in just about one fourth of the shady circle under the tree. After listing all the plants in this bed I now see that this shade garden has all elements I’d hoped for: a diversity of plants, contrasting, textural leaf shapes, and flowers with successive bloom times. I think it probably has progressed enough to qualify as My Made in the Shade Garden!

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