Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Shady Business

Clematis 'General Sikorski,' growing in a mostly shady location in our old yard. 

Funny how looking back at something from a distance in time can bring it into clearer focus.  (I know, Lady Obvious here.)  But I noticed after I posted the garden photos yesterday that my old yard was actually very lush because it was partially shaded.  Our new yard up here is very exposed, with no big trees, so there's only two places in the yard (north and east sides of the house) that are mostly/completely shaded.  I used to look at shade as a bit of an obstacle to gardening, but I learned to work with it.  Then I lost most of it, and came to value it even more.

Fern leaf bleeding hearts - one of my favorite shade perennials. 
Unlike regular bleeding hearts, they keep their ferny foliage all season.  
They also self-seed where they're happy, and it's easy 
to move the seedlings to new homes. 

All that to say, I hope wherever we land in the future, when I'm able to buy a home again (or land a great long-term rental), that I have more shade to play with in my new garden.  Many plants benefit from partial shade, especially during the afternoon in the summer and in hot climates.  Many "full sun" plants will do okay in light shade, or shade during the later part of the day.  Experiment with the microclimates in your yard - you may be surprised to see something thrive where you least expect it to.

Oriental lily 'Bergamo,' which received filtered shade in the afternoons from an old crab apple tree.  Lilies like their "feet in the shade, head in the sun."

No-name green hosta, growing in the most inhospitable place imaginable in a garden:  under mature evergreen trees (hemlock, in this case).  They look positively tropical, don't they?

Wild columbine (Aquilegia canadensis).
Most columbines like a bit of shade,
in my experience.  

Peony 'Amalia Olson,' growing where it got lots of sun in the morning and early afternoon, then shade after about 2PM.  It loved it.

Lady's Mantle (Alchemilla mollis), a classic part-shade perennial.

And toad lilies (Tricyrtis hirta), a really unique garden plant:  it prefers full, dry shade, and blooms in the fall.


  1. If there are any plants/bulbs/shrubs that you do not want to part with when selling the house, feel welcome to use my yard to 'reserve' your loves until you are relocated somewhere more permanent. I know you have put hundreds of hours into that yard. I don't want you to lose all that beautiful work, the offer stands as long as you need it to, whether that means 6 months or 6 years. :)

    1. Thank you, more than words can say!