I have a shady spot on a hillside I am fussing about. At the bottom is a large bed of variegated solomon's seal (about 2.5' tall). At the top is a Deutzia. I adore both. In the middle is a barren gap about a yard wide -- no more. I tried to grow hostas, but weeds overcame them -- and the hostas are too short to stand out behind the solomon's seal anyway. Now I've weeded it, and I think I'll pull the hostas.
So I want to find a perennial or shrub for the shade, tough and long-lasting, that will appear about as tall as the Solomon's Seal and so flow nicely up to the Deutzia. It could grow to 2.5 or 3', but ideally no more. I'd like it to be able to compete with the weeds, and ideally win. I'd really like it to flower at some point during the year.
I'd do azaleas, but the height is always a little funky with them -- the height depends on a lot of things, and few stay at 2.5'. And they are slow growing, so they'd be too short for a few years and then suddenly too tall.
I know you may suggest that I prune something-or-other to fit, but this is a really tough spot on a hill and I done want to have to do a lot of maintenance.
Any suggestions? I'm toying with a knock-out rose, but those grow to 4', which would be too tall.
Thank you for your suggestions! Ferns might work, though I'd need quite tall ones. Do you know how ferns do on a hillside? I have a lot of Bleeding Heart that I could put there, but I think the fact that they die out in August might not make them the best candidate. I'd call it a mostly shady spot (shaded by tall trees), but bright.
Some ferns can do well on a hillside, and there are many varieties that are taller than two feet. It would just be a matter of finding the right variety for your soil. I suggested bleeding hearts with them because they would leaf out earlier than the ferns and have the blooms you said you wanted. Then, by the time the foliage died back, the ferns would be much taller and fuller. The shade provided by the ferns also might help control your weeds.
l6blue: I hear you about the bleeding hearts, but I don't that'd work -- it would just look messy btwn the Deutzia and SS, which are very "clean" loooking. But ferns by themselves might work just fine -- I'll hunt for one.
postmandug: I must be the only person out there who doesn't like Pieris Japonica. To me it looks awkward.
It occurs to me I could root the Deutzia so it spreads a bit lower towards the SS, filling the gap... Its stem tips root easily.
I like the fern idea - maybe ostrich or cinnamon which have some height. I've had better experience with ostrich fern in dryer locations than the cinnamon, and it keeps them around the 2'5" height that you are looking for. To add some color and single stem form to complement the solomon's seal, how about martagon or oriental lillies in with the ferns? I had only seen martagon lillies in catalogs, but I planted a few that bloomed last season and they quickly became a favorite - the flowers were so much daintier than the visual I had from the catalogs. There are several colors available, but I'm partial to the mauve/pink. I was suprised when I got a tip that most oriental lillies do well in the shade. I've been adding them a little at a time over the last few years. They bloom later than most of the things available for shade - different varieties bloom different times, but I'm getting some color now from mid July to late Aug. They can reach a height anywhere from 3' - 6', but with single stems in groups of 3-5, the height shouldn't detract from the Deutzia behind them.
Donna, we cross-posted. I'm sitting here at my desk eating chicken wings for lunch - pretty messy fingers on the keyboard LOL. I been meaning to add some of the Fothergilla to my gardens - saw it for the first time at the Philadelphia Flower show two years ago, and added it to my running "wants" list. I need to remember to add shrubs and climbers into the garden - I tend to keep getting plants, which will leave the design flat if I don't watch out...
The clump of martagons that I planted are in the woodland shade under tall deciduous trees, and are doing fine. I really need to add more, but read that they do better if the bulbs are planted in fall, so I'll wait until then. The oriental lillies have done great, no matter what time of year I planted them, and are in the same woodland shade.
I just checked out the Brent & Becky's link. I noticed that their description also said 4 - 6'. Mine are only growing to about 3', so they are doing fine in my shade, but may grow to their full height potential if in the sun.
I will, but you have no idea how cheap I am -- the plants are not likely to be visible for a year or two!
Here are photos of how it looks now. I forgot to move the hostas in pots at the bottom of the hill before I took the photo -- I need to plant them in somewhere, but they won't be going anywhere visible in this shot. And I couldn't take the shot dead-on because there is a Caryopteris in front of it that I forgot to cut back, and it looks pretty uninspired right now. The spot I want to fill is the empty spot in the middle of the first shot. The first shot is a bit of a close-up; the second is the same area, but from futher back. The Deutzia is the plant with dollops of white on it -- it was in full bloom a week or so ago, and looked spendid. I love it and don't want to block it with whatever it is I plunk in here. (Actually, there are two next to each other now that I think about it.) There are some azaleas in the rear, also just about past bloom. The Solomon's Seal looks very nice right now, but it didn't pick up well in the photo.
There are some small hostas in the hole that you can barely see (they are coming out), and some self-seeing herbs the name of which I always forget, but they have ferny foliage and will have pretty white flowers in a month or so (I need to post them on the plant ID forum).
Donna and Aspen -- thanks! The weed to plant ratio is pretty high, but we love it.
Dax: Your suggestions are great. Annabelle Hydrangea or Goatsbeard might just fit the bill -- I'm leaning towards Goatsbeard at the moment. I have one on another spot on the hill and it does well. The hill gets fairly dry, so I don't think a Liguaria would thrive -- but yours is gorgeous.
So is the turtlehead. I've had it before but it has never done "anything" -- honestly, I didn't know that was how it was supposed to look! That is stunning. I bet I put mine in too dark a spot, and kept it too dry. But I'm inspired now!
(I wish Bluestone still sold plants in packs of threes.)
Oh, thank you for directing me to Dax's garden. Beauty everywhere you look! A particular favorite - the picture with the sweet autumn clematis (I inherited three - the world's best cover for the chain link fence next door - pennisetum and miscanthus. Magic!
Glad you like the pics, it is much appreciated. You always garden for yourself, but it's nice when other folks like it too! I have a bit of a gargoyle obsession (yes, I think the one in the last reply is called a griffin), so you will find them throughout the gardens -- here are a few peeking out as they enjoy their homes (including the troll under the bridge) -- Dax
happy_macomb, my thoughts are a variegated or yellow form Cornus alternifolia to the left and a Fuchsia magellanica to the right between the Deutzia & Polygonatum. The Fuchsia would give blooming after the Deutzia and probably not have leaves on it or act more as a perennial than shrub. The Cornus has that great "cake plate" growth so you can see through it and the added foliage colour can brighten up the area without being too big.
Thanks, growin! I don't think the Cornus would work -- too tall. The Fuchsia would be lovely, but it is a very tough spot -- the soil is awful because the hill is so steep that the top soil keeps washing out. So delicate needy plants don't make it!
The photos make it look as if the Deutzia is to the right of the Polygonatum, but really the Deutzia is directly above it. I had to take the photo at a weird angle becaue of the tall Caryopteris that is the middle of everything.
Maybe try this one: Lobelia siphilitica http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/133/
The bloom spikes happen after the Deutzia, it takes poor soil and would probably do well and it'll do the shad'ish location.
I must seem so particular. That won't work -- I love Lobelia, but it requires a lot of moisture, and because this spot is on a hill it tends to be dry... I do water pretty often, but not enough to support a moisture-loving plant. Otherwise, perfect plant!
I love it too. Forgot about the water requirements. I've found Osmanthus heterophyllus to be really tough. Actually it's the only plant to survive being sprayed with a herbicide thoroughly. It took dry shade very well. It can be kept within the height requirements and there's the variegated and splashed (Goshiki). Not sure how it does in your area but a slow growing shrub that is tough.