My garden is all!!!

Antioch, TN

My garden is located in a shady location that gets about 2 hrs of evening sun. It is along side a bordered tree line, and space is limited so that I do not have any large shrubs. So the garden looks like a green mass of foliage. Anyone with suggestions as to plants with colored foliage that would make an effect in the space and tone the green foliage? I am willing to trade if anyone has something to offer.

Duxbury, MA(Zone 7a)

How about heuchera, Palace Purple? It has burgundy foliage. If it gets enough sun, it has very delicate flowers on spikes. If it gets too much sun, it gets a little bleached out, like mine in this photo. (the purple spikes in the background are a salvia, the heuchera flowers are more in the middle of the photo, between the petunia and the heuchera.)

Thumbnail by cindyeo
Antioch, TN

Thanks Cindyeo, I had the heuchera but it did not thrive nor did the petunias I planted last year. I planted a Japanese Maple about 4 yrs ago and it has not even grown 6 ins. I had dugged through the clay and amended the soil but the only ones that seems to like the area are the irises and the sedums. I dugged up my Maple last fall and turned the soil adding the clay to the surface and replanted the maple and so far I have more leaves than during the previous years.

Portage, WI(Zone 4b)

Sometimes varying the shapes can make for interest. For instance if you have a nice mat of wild ginger ( Asarum canadense), and intermix something with fine foliage such as maidenhair fern ( Adiantum), meadowrue ( Thalictrum), and perhaps something taller to give interest in heigh such as Solomon's Seal ( also comes in variegated hybrids), you can generate quite a bit if interest. Variegation is always good. There seems to be few things that do consistently flower in daylong shade. Have you tried the old standby impatiens? What you can also try to add more color is leave space for some planters. That way you can grow some plants that will not like the clay in potting soil instead. I bet the annuals would do well this way. You could also try going with less vegetation, and making that area a highlight area with a piece of statuary or water feature.

Antioch, TN

Thanks Trillium612 for your response. I have tried moving things around but everything seems to be the same size and just green. I do have the variegated solomon's seal and that does well. I planted several azaleas and they just sat there and died off. 3 years in a row I planted buddleia(bultterfly bush) hoping to get some height and they all died. My soil is slightly acidic to neutral. I am thinking those large trees that border the property line are having some adverse effects on the plants.
Will the wild ginger do well in shade? I have planted tall phlox and some ginger lily for this season so I will see how well they do at surviving . My royal fern did not make it, I think the clay gets to dry in the summer for growing fern especially here in TN. Too dry for impatiens, I've planted those before.
I do appreciate the suggestions.

Portage, WI(Zone 4b)

Wild ginger is a good shade plant. I don't know how it will do in dry clay shade though. I think it likes a lighter soil with more room for it's roots. Hmm, Sounds like it might be time for some hardscaping, so you don't keep losing plants. Do you know what kind of trees they are? I think it is black walnuts that are allelopathic ( kill other plants)? I'm not sure if there are others.

Antioch, TN

The ones I know for sure are the cedars, oaks, and redwoods

Springboro, PA(Zone 5a)

You could try one of the golden colored hostas. They look like a splash of sunlight when planted among the other "greens" in my shade gardens.


Thumbnail by Early_Bloomer
Midway, TX(Zone 8b)

Because I'm a Hosta lover I would agree with Early Bloomer that Hostas in different colors and different colored blooms would be real pretty. Some with white striped leaves, maybe some blue ones too.

Antioch, TN

Thank you both for your suggestions.

Omaha, NE(Zone 5a)

How deep is your shade? I'd plant daffodils for spring, ajuga (blue) for early summer, Goosenecked lysimachia IN A BURRIED POT (it is VERY invasive) in a couple spots for summer, Bleeding heart (spring, again), various daylilies (look for part-shade varieties), and, frankly, I'b buy some potting mix, mound it gently up to about 3 inches in a few places and plant 10-20 impatients in each mound. If it's your soil, that's probably the only way around it. Good luck!

Omaha, NE(Zone 5a)

Oh, one other thing, mmaybe some caladiums would add some color? You said you were limited on space, but a single spirea, even if you had to keep it trimmed, would add interest, or a dwarf variety...
I put a spirea in my shade garden, right in the middle. so that I could divide it into 2 'halves' with a divided path, then plant along both paths. It made it more interesting than just a flat garden. You could also put a bench, or small fountain or statue in the middle, just to divide it up...
You might throw the question out in the Garden Design forum- there are some good designers that frequent it!

Antioch, TN

Thanks Jillann, I had the spirea for about 2 yrs before it gave up. I have a large concrete bird fountain that I added. I am going to plant a variegated shrub and keep it tapered so it won't take up too much room while adding height and color.

Cincinnati, OH(Zone 6a)

Astilbe for sure. Mine have their pretty red spikes for a long time in summer, in the shade, in my clay soil.

I'd also establish some flowers. If you just spend a few dollars for a few packets of seeds, it will be very cheap. For sure I'd add columbines and digitalis. If you throw out the seeds in late summer they might well sprout this year, bloom next summer.


Antioch, TN

Thanks everyone for the inputs

Zolfo Springs, FL(Zone 9b)

if you get really hardy colorful ones coleus would be a nice addition. I use them a lot in shady spots for color.

Sumter, SC(Zone 8a)

Here's a link for deep shade gardening that might be suited to your zone (I was guessing the zone) hope it helps some...

Cary, NC(Zone 7b)

One word - Impatiens

Heres the link

You can buy a pack of 4 at any of the big box stores. They are great for providing color in shaded areas. My mom's loves these as her garden is much more shaded by trees than mine. There are even varigateded types which the leaves are striped I believe that I saw in the plant files. You can probably get the varigated types at a better local nursery. Good luck


This message was edited Jun 7, 2008 11:48 PM

This message was edited Jun 7, 2008 11:50 PM

(Taylor) Plano, TX(Zone 8a)

I've battled the shade with my hubby for years :0) I want to take out some trees, ~he likes the shade in summer.

I've tried the hostas, they didn't get enough light. Impatiens are great, but you have to replace them.

I've recently discovered perennial meehania cordata. I placed an order and am hopeful!

they supposedly will grow and bloom ~practically in the dark :0)

Currently I grow vinca major in those "dark" areas, and a really pretty bush called indigofera kirilowii. Check them out! I can honestly attest, these will grow and bloom in only filtered light, or one to two hours sun.

They are great.

Antioch, TN

Thanks, I will check out the meehania cordata. The vinca, I am still trying to kill the plant that I planted in one little spot that has now grown out of control .

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