Help! Dry, sandy wall in full shade....

Mystic, CT(Zone 6b)

My house sits on a hillside, with the slope coming down toward the backyard. I have a 4 1/2 foot semi-circular retaining wall in back, that the house and deck sit on. The square deck is about 10 feet high. You can walk under it , on top of the circular wall. Looks like this:

Thumbnail by Ivy1
Mystic, CT(Zone 6b)

So, on the left side of the deck, underneath, there is full sun. I have planted Teucrium in a ring along the top of the wall, in the center there is a slender Juniper, that will grow tall, looking like an Italian Cypress. Also there are some herbs.

On the right side, under the deck, is full shade in summer. My question is: what can I put on a sandy wall, with large gravel on top of it, in full shade?

I would like to echo the edging of Teucrium from the sunny side, if possible.

This message was edited Dec 19, 2005 7:41 PM

Mystic, CT(Zone 6b)

I was thinking about Hostas, but they would probably dry out too much.

Then I thought maybe some Heathers would work, but maybe there might be too much shade?

Maybe Daphne would work? The soil is poor, so maybe not.

I figured that basically, I've got a rockery here, so perhaps the people on this forum could help.

Sebastopol, CA(Zone 9a)

Ivy, Epimedium grows really well in dry shade. Some of the other things that grow fairly well in dry shade are various types of Campanula, Geraniums, Dianthus, Hellebores, Arenaria, Penstemon, Anemones, Hepatica, and Violas.

Hostas and Heather won't work there at all, I don't think. Some Daphnes will work there because they won't care if the soil is poor.

Mystic, CT(Zone 6b)

Thanks, ZuZu. I need something that would carry through the year- you know, good foliage.
Hellebores and Epimediums just might work. Dianthus has good foliage, but I can't imagine it working in the amount of shade I have.

There is a huge Maple tree in my neighbor's yard that hangs over the wall. Because of that and the deck, it is really dark over there. Right now I've got three Hydrangeas growing along the edge, but they don't like it, and they don't produce much bloom.

I read that Sweet Box, or Sarcococca works in deep shade, but needs moist soil. Liriope might work. I'm not sure about the foliage on the Liriope. I would like something maybe more structural. I just don't know if I can actually grow what I want over there!

Sebastopol, CA(Zone 9a)

Try Dianthus barbatus (Sweet William). I have it growing in total shade under a black walnut tree and it looks great all year round.

There are also some nice varieties of Phlox that will grow in dry shade. P. divaricata is one of them. I'm not surprised about the hydrangeas. They need a little bit of sun to bloom nicely. Besides, they lose all of their leaves when it gets cold, and Hellebores and Epimedium don't do that.

Mystic, CT(Zone 6b)

Thanks Zuzu! This is very helpful! I have Creeping Phlox spilling over the front of the wall in the middle, but that gets a lot of sun. Maybe the Divaricata will work on the north side.

I have always been attracted to Dianthus plants, but never had any. I love heirloom plants with names like Sweet William, or Cottage Pink! There are some Dianthus that have such beautiful blue foliage. Is Sweet William one?

somewhere, PA

Ivy - Zuzu has come up with a couple of really nice options! I've got epimedium
doing very well in a dark dry bed. And P. Divaricata is heavenly in bloom! I've
got it growing under a giant rose - it gets the tiniest amount of sun in early spring
but once that rose beefs up a bit, its very dark. (Its on the north side of a big
viburnum too). And I've got a smaller dianthus growing close by - not the bigger
sweet williams. They get a bit more sun. But are wonderful bloomers & the folliage
is pretty.

If it were me, I'd go for the epimedium. I think they have gorgeous folliage pretty
much year round here. And nice little flowers in the spring.

Sebastopol, CA(Zone 9a)

Here, Ivy:

All of the d. barbatus are Sweet William. Some do have beatiful bluish-green foliage, and they spread nicely, but they're also easy to control.

somewhere, PA

Hmmm... maybe mine are actually sweet williams! *red face* Tam

Sebastopol, CA(Zone 9a)

Hi, Tammy. Maybe your face doesn't have to turn red. If you have the shorter ones, they probably aren't Sweet William, and they also need a little bit of sun to look tiptop. Sweet William needs no sun at all.

somewhere, PA

Thanks Zuzu - are sweet williams biennial? And my diathus
are about 6" tall. How tall are sweet williams?

Sebastopol, CA(Zone 9a)

Hi, Tammy. Sweet Williams are at least a foot tall, maybe a foot and a half. They're theoretically biennial, but they reseed so lavishly that they act like spreading perennials. The ones I've bought recently have bloomed the first year. I'm not sure whether I'm buying year-old plants or they found some way to speed up the "biennial process."

somewhere, PA

Thanks! I'm no longer red-faced. :-)
And sorry for the hijack Ivy!

Mystic, CT(Zone 6b)

Tammy - no problem! I don't think that was a hijack- You are still on topic. I need all the info I can get!

I just found this site - which made me want to try Hellebores very much! I realize it's not the same growing conditions, but, man, how beautiful!

Take a look:

somewhere, PA

Ivy - hellebores have become quite interesting lately! Lots of good hybridization.
I've got mine planted in a fairly boggy area and they like it there a lot. I find
that I don't walk around where I've planted them in the winter. So if you go for them,
think about where you'll see them on a cold snowy wintery day! (The folliage is
very pretty & evergreen, a big plus).

Can't wait to see the pictures of that area planted up! (And I can't wait for spring too).

Mystic, CT(Zone 6b)

Tammy, I've got a couple of Hellebores that I got for free with my order last year from Wayside. They are planted under my fir tree in the back. They haven't bloomed yet, but I think this year they might. I am not sure when they bloom, here in zone 5 or 6. I actually went out yesterday to look! Obviously, they haven't started yet. Last year I started looking in February, but nothing happened.

I think the Royal Heritage strain looks super!


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