Your Woodland Shade Favorites 4

Melbourne, KY(Zone 6a)

Spring is in full swing (for the most part!), and gardening fever is, too. We have lots of great ideas for beautiful woodland gardens.
We came from here:

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

Thank you!

Stamford, CT(Zone 6b)

Our lady slippers are native and do not have any red, so I suppose they are common. I will try to dig up and share some as I had promised last year. The problem with our shade garden is that there are tree roots that make digging next to impossible.

Thanks for the new thread!


Love the photos of the lady slipper and gentian. I admit to coveting them. :)

Lucketts, VA(Zone 7a)

I haven't been to visit you fellow shade lovers in a long while. How has everyone been? I was inspired by the variety and lesser known shade plants that weerobin has been posting pictures of, and went looking at lazyssfarm's online catalog. Before I knew it, I had a lot of things added to the shopping cart - now I just have to go back and narrow it down. Picked out some lesser known geraniums, anemones, and epimediums varieties as well as some other goodies. I don't know about the rest of you, but I have a HUGE deer problem. My ultimate goal is to install a deer fence around my acreage, but with the cost, it is probably at least another two or three years out in the budget plan. In the meantime, I'm spraying with deer repellant every couple of weeks and I'm only putting in things that are labeled as deer resistant. The deer will pretty much eat whatever they want, but at least the plants may stand a better chance. When I got to the hellebores section in their online catalog, the description of hellebores foetidus indicated that the deer will absolutely not eat it, and it will deter them from eating any other plant in the vicinity. Has anyone had any experience with this plant? What is your opinion? It sounds too good to be true... Terri

We have a deer problem here as well. Because the back of our property butts up to a wooded wetland and it's the natural terrain, it would have been a nightmare to install "real" fencing. I opted for the EZ Fence which is a reinforced netting (much stronger than bird netting, deer netting, etc. The worst part of a not-so-bad job was to drive metal fence posts into the ground 2ft. No way were we going to use concrete out there. The netting has pockets that just slip over the posts so it was pretty easy. My fence is 6 ft and has worked so far at keeping them out. They will jump higher but I think they'd have to be either scared or pretty determined to jump higher. As I don't have hellebores in that part of the garden, can't say if they're deer-proof or not. My hostas did end up on their AYCE salad buffet though. They also love coneflowers and columbine and even rhodies if it's a bad winter here.

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Sounds like the ideal plant for all who are dealing with deer, Terri.

Like Cindy, they feast here on hosta. We will be using Liquid Fence this year to try and keep them out but they are determined creatures. Here they don't eat columbine or coneflowers and they don't bother with my dahlias. They'll eat my friend's lilies and she's just a mile away, but they very seldom touch mine.

Lucketts, VA(Zone 7a)

I love hostas, but they are definitely deer lettuce for now. I still try to keep some and focus the periodic spraying on them, but most are eaten by the end of the season. So far, they have actually come back the next spring so it hasn't been a total loss yet. The other plants that seem to be their favorites are spiderwort, oriental lillies, and toad lillies. I've got the bug for a plant shopping spree, and I think I'll go with a lot of epimediums this time. I have two different ones that the deer ignore. I don't see epimediums too often in the local nurseries so they really hadn't been on my radar as possibilities, but I saw quite a few online when I was looking yesterday.

aspen - I agree with you about being able to find Epimediums locally. I think every one of mine has come via mail order. Maybe they're low-growing enough that the deer don't notice them? Just wondering. The prices do eat up the budget fast though.

Saint Louis, MO(Zone 6a)

I have tons of deer and they don't bother my hellebores.
I have hellebore foetidus as well as several others and they all do fine.
I have a zillion epimediums which aren't bothered by deer, but bunnies find them delectable.
If it's not one, it's the other...

Lucketts, VA(Zone 7a)

I had some great DG friends over this afternoon, and I was showing them the damage to the hostas. Not only are the deer eating the leaves, something else was going on too - looked like they were 1/4 of the size that they normally are to begin with. They knew right away what it was - voles!!! First time ever for that. Now I have not one, but two pesky critters to combat. I wonder when the rabbits will show up LOL.

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

Voles "discover" you. When I was at my old house my neighbor two doors down complained about how terrible his were. I didn't know what he was talking about, and didn't know what they looked like, A few years of avid lily growing and they found me. The first year winter I lost 5 or 6 lilies, which didn't concern me. I thought I planted them incorrectly. The next year (they had sent messages out to their pals that there was good eatin' in Donna's yard) - I lost 50 lilies.

That's quite a loss! Guess I'll not complain about deer nibbles so much.
Sorry if I'm off topic here but has anyone ever collected ripe seed from H. foetidus? Have one with flowers that have held on since last fall with big seed capsules but they're still green.

Saint Louis, MO(Zone 6a)

My h. foetidus spreads around on it's own. So far, I don't mind, but I can see that I'm going to have to start pulling seedlings up fairly soon to keep it in bounds. Yesterday, I was hacking through one area of jungle on yet another 'plant rescue' mission and was amazed to see about 4 clumps of h. foetidus growing happily under the mess - totally shaded and neglected. A pretty tough plant, obviously.

Good to know. The blooms, which are months old, are still interesting to look at so I'll just keep them intact until the seeds ripen.

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Weerobin - I gather the H. foetidus does NOT keep deer away. Is that right?

Maine, United States(Zone 5b)

Donna, I agree, voles find you if they learn you've got what they like, which th will. Do you hear that whisper: "If you plant them, they will come".

I now plant my hosta in containers or cages to prevent losses to voles.

Saint Louis, MO(Zone 6a)

Amazingly, the deer don't seem to touch the hellebores,
but sadly the hellebores don't deter the deer from munching on everything else in the yard!

Lucketts, VA(Zone 7a)

I spent all weekend doing the initial after-winter cleaning up of the hillside shade garden - a lot more vole damage than I thought, I went to the local Southern States and picked up some Bonide vole/mole stuff that another DGer recommended. Don't know it if will do the trick, but I hope so. Donna, losing 50+ bulbs must have been so disappointing. On a happier note, after the leaves are cleared away, I love "re-discovering" all the plants that survived and especially those that are actually thriving. What a difference a weekend of garden work makes!

Saint Louis, MO(Zone 6a)

The other plant deer nor rabbits seem to eat is asarum.
I have several nice patches of different types of asarum.
I really like them - a nice groundcover for shade.
This is a slowly spreading clump of asarum takaoi.
To the right of the asarum is a cute little hosta called Pandora's Box.
It lives in a lovely wire cage, which only came off long enough to take the picture!

Thumbnail by Weerobin
Lucketts, VA(Zone 7a)

I like the asarum too. I have one that looks similar to what you just posted, and the deer have left it alone. I need to go find the tag to find out which one it is - probably a fairly common one because I got it at a local nursery. I planted it about three years ago, but it has only spread a few leaves from what I originally planted. How long did it take your patch to fill in like that? It looks really nice, especially next to the hosta.

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

Thank you Aspenhill. That's sweet. A lot of the bulbs were common and easy to replace, with one exception - Longidragon, a lily that immediately went out of commerce. It's an Easter Lily trumpet cross that is only about 2 feet high, and has a spray of stunning flowers across the top. It was offered by B& D lilies in 2003. And only 2003. B&D had a calamitous time with voles too, not long thereafter, and lost thousand of lilies in a single year, and some they could not propagate again.

I had one left, but it was in the middle of tree roots and I couldn't get it out. And in the meantime, the rabbits would bite off the top, making it hard to locate. Then a year ago I realized that if I put a daffodil near it, the pests would leave it alone. I went back and looked, and there it was, sending up a stem, with daff WP Milner standing guard! I finally got it out of the ground, put it in my minifridge, and it's about to go into the ground.

I know it's absurd, but I can't begin to tell you how happy it made me to get this beautiful thing back. Being a lily buyer for 15 years, I now have three lilies that appear to be out of commerce - Silver Sunburst, Amethyst Temple, and Longidragon.

Thank you for understanding.

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Thanks, Weerobin. I read that one such plant would keep deer from entering the garden so I asked our local nursery guy, a horticulturist, about it and he said it wasn't true. Now you say it so I've saved myself some grief. Nice asarum. I have the common Asarum Europaeum. Pandora's Box is sweet. I understand about the cages! Yesterday I hooked up some mesh over the tops of one phlox the deer will eat to the ground. I'll be adjusting it for height as it continues to grow.

aspenhill - if you have the one pictured below, it grows constantly in all directions and resents moving so do it in the fall when it becomes necessary.

Glad you managed to save one precious lily, Donna.

Thumbnail by pirl
Melbourne, KY(Zone 6a)

The asarum is so pretty--I will look for some around here!

The Asarum pics are giving me a new appreciation for them. The foliage does hold up rather well during the growing season. I have the A. canadense which seems to pop up all over the garden which can be a pain though. Are the other varieties as prolific?

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Mine is fairly well behaved but each clump expands slowly in all directions so I've been lifting some of it. Then the pieces removed look weary for months. I did put the pieces in a pot so feel free to contact me in August and if it looks good and you want it for the postage, you can have it.

Thanks so much for the offer, Pirl. I'll let you know if I can get some space cleared for it. Mine pops up everywhere that the insects can carry the seeds. DH is still contemplating an outdoor storage shed in the backyard which means moving some plants. My luck, he'll wait until the heat of the summer to decide (if at all).

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

An outdoor storage shed is always a great idea. I'll try and find a photo of one I love, by Songsofjoy, and it's so charming.

This message was edited May 8, 2012 11:16 AM

Thanks! Of course the ideal place for it is on one end of my main back shady bed. Trying to position it among oak trees and shrubs that would be impossible to move will be a challenge.

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Found it!

Think of it as a challenge because it is. Maybe Google would have some "different" ideas for a shed.

Melbourne, KY(Zone 6a)

Beautiful building and setting! I could live there!

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Me, too!

Maine, United States(Zone 5b)

I gave actually been lucky enough to have visited Slngs of Joy's garden and it just breathtaking.

I need a shed so bad. Originally I wanted to construct one along the fence to block my view of the neighbors drive but learned that the town code requires it to be ten feet away from the property line, which would not work.

Pirl - thanks for that link. Beautiful setting and shed. Sigh.... I think ours will be much more utilitarian since it would house ladders, off-season motorized yard equipment, perhaps a lot of my outdoor gardening tools and cart. Has to be critter-proof, especially for raccoons and possums. But that doesn't mean it has to be austere. We weren't parking my old car in the garage since DH was building a desk, filing cabinet and shelves at the time. But with new vehicle purchase last year (which now gets parked in the garage) and DH's newest hobby - beer-making - space has gotten very tight in there. Thank goodness I have my little hobby GH for most of my pots and seed-starting stuff.
I think we have to be 8 ft off the property line here.

Bardstown, KY(Zone 6a)

Ah, a home brewer, a hobby fit for a king!!! Yes I do it too, but gardening is my passion or as the wife likes to put it my obsession!

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Cindy - could you have "his" and "hers" sheds? We're only allowed one per property.

Chevy Chase, MD(Zone 7a)

Weerobin: Your asarum takaoi is stunning -- I'm going to hunt around my neck of the woods for it!

On voles: What does vole damage look like (as compared to slug damage, or deer damage, or .....)?

Lucketts, VA(Zone 7a)

I have seen pictures that SongsofJoy has posted in various places, and they are absolutely beautiful. Have you seen the pictures of her waterfall/water feature? I love how the shed became an integral part of the garden. Cindy, I'm thinking that even needing more of a utilitiarian use can be made into an architectural feature. I have a shed and a pole barn - neither one is very attractive at this point, but maybe I can give them a face lift.

Beer brewing - how fun. "Red solo cup, let's have a party...." Anyone listen to Toby Keith?

Happy, on the vole damage, the plants just seem to get smaller and smaller, and then disappear altogether. If you poke a stick in the dirt around the plant, it just kind of sinks or caves in. The voles eat the roots from their tunnels underground. Much different than the deer damage who munch on the leaves and flowers from the top. The plants just look like they have been chewed on and/or eaten, leaving just a few inches of the plant remaining above ground. Slugs, don't have that problem yet, but I think the symptoms are holes in the leaves.

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

Hi Hap,

Up here vole damage is seen mostly in disappearing bulbs, or only tiny bulblets that are next to areas where big bulbs were. In other words, you may have planted a large bulb with small offsets and now you have only offsets, or perhaps just a few scales.

Slug damage manifests itself in ragged holes in the leaves. Hostas are a favorite. It doesn't kill the plant but renders it unsightly.

Chevy Chase, MD(Zone 7a)

Thanks. I have long wondered if I have voles. Not sure whether it is voles or my sloppy gardening practices that explain the losses!

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