Indiana, PA - Indiana County

DIG IN! Planting a shade garden

by CAROLE McCRAY, Gazette Contributing Writer on May 22, 2014 10:50 AM

A shaded landscape should not deter you from having a flower garden. There are grasses, bulbs, shrubs, flowering annuals and perennials ideally suited to shaded areas.

Mention bulbs and we think of spring bulbs such as tulips, daffodils and hyacinths, but there are shade-loving bulbs with blooms from April through the fall.

[This feature is a sample of stories found today in The Indiana Gazette's special supplement, DIG IN! 2014 Spring Garden Preview. Find the complete section in the Gazette -- delivered to your home or at a nearby newsstand -- or on The Indiana Gazette ePaper website.]

Perennial Bulbs for Shade

Leycihyn aestivum, Snowflake has white blooms in April and May and reaches a height of 15 inches.

Anemone blanda, Windflower blooms in April and May and grows to a height of about 6 inches; flowers in pink, blue or white.

Colchicum autumnal, Meadow saffron blooms in shades of pink or lilac in September and can grow to a height of 1 foot.

Hemerocallis, Daylily blooms can begin as early as June and continue through September. Depending on the variety, daylilies can grow from 2 to 4 feet.

Some cultivars have yellow flowers, and there are fragrant yellow daylilies with a citrus scent.

Shade-Loving Shrubs

Hydrangea macrophylla is known by its common name, Snowball, a deciduous shrub with a growth habit of 4 to 6 feet tall.

Its creamy blossoms linger a long time and change from creamy white to tints of green and pink as summer passes into fall.

Pieris japonica is hardy and prefers acidic soil. Its spring flowers resemble lily-of-the-valley-like flowers. Japonica’s tiny greenish to pinkish-white flower buds make it a great evergreen shrub in a woodland border in partial shade.

Rhododendron is a timeless acid-loving evergreen with a preference to partial or dappled shade. Its showy clusters of pure white, pale pink, deep red, lavender or deep purple lend color to the garden in mid to late spring.

Kerria japonica, Japanese Kerria is a shrub to span the seasons with color and interest. The lovely arching form of the shrub complements perennials, grasses and bulbs.

The shrub is bright golden yellow in the spring, lighting up the garden, and yellow-green stems gift the garden in the winter.

Shade-Loving Perennials

Aquilegia, Columbines are bright shade-lovers with a variety of colors — creamy white, soft pink, deep blue-purple, pale yellow or dark burgundy.

Their nodding flower heads have elongated and intricate petals that appear May through June.

Astilbe x arendsii, Hybrid Astilbe, with plumes of deep red, pink, deep violet or white and feathery foliage adorn a shade garden from July through September and grow from 2 to 4 feet tall.

Flower heads dry to tints of brown giving the garden an attractive appearance from fall through winter.

Dicentra, Bleeding heart is an early spring bloomer. The white bleeding heart has delicate, pantaloon-shaped flowers; the pink has heart-shaped flowers, both blooming in May and reaching about a foot or more tall. Their dangling flowers atop gray-green foliage resemble tiny valentine hearts.

Geranium, Cranesbill has quite a longevity and can be trailing, spreading or mat-forming. Shearing in early summer encourages new growth and prolongs blooming time through September. Cranesbill makes an excellent ground cover with white, pink, purple or blue flowers and has either marked, textured or colored leaves.

Heuchera, Coral Bells, charming in the shade garden with shiny and evergreen foliage and sprays of dainty bell-shaped pink flowers, can tolerate full sun to partial shade and reaches a height of nearly 18 inches.

Hosta, Plantain Lily is a perennial favorite for shade gardens. Hostas are regal plants and are popular for their fantastic and varied foliage shapes, textures and colors. Blooming time can begin early June and last through late fall. You will find their foliage irresistible in green, blue, metallic blue-green, chartreuse, solid green, variegated, pleated, cupped or puckered. Their flower palette ranges from white, pale lavender, pale yellow or violet. Hostas can grow from a foot tall to nearly 2 feet tall.

Visit your garden center or favorite nursery for these and other shade-loving plants. Ask about specific soil requirements for each plant to learn whether they prefer alkaline, acidic or neutral soil in well-drained or slightly damp areas.

Your garden made in the shade will bring you hours of enjoyment. With a spot to set a garden bench or other garden furniture, your shade garden can be a haven to find respite from the summer’s sultry rays.

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