May 26, 2011

Staying Cool in the Shade

It has been HOT this week... like 93 degrees and 70% humidity. But what did I expect? Summer was bound to come soon. While the new growth in the sun border is weeping from the afternoon rays, I found a box turtle taking cover below the Hypericum at the entrance to our shady-path garden.

Before this area was a typical problem North-side yard... the kind of place where grass dosent grow and run-off washed out any mulch.  A large oak just on the neighbors side of the fence adds to the shade. With only a kiss of sun for 30 minutes in the mid-day in summer, this is our only deep shade area in the garden. You can see down to our full-sun perennial border at the far end... baking in the afternoon heat. A couple years ago, with only mud and ideas, Brian started with a simple bubble diagram with the central path and general heights of plants along the wall and fence. It made for a great way to plan a beautiful garden and still "plop" some of those clearance plants in as we find them.

Possibly my favorite plants in the area are the Ghost Ferns (Antherium 'ghost') (left), a cross between the Japanese Painted Fern (A. niponicum var. 'Pictum') and the Lady Fern (A. filix-femina). This variety has the best characteristics of both partent plants, with a stunning color and more up-right habit. White blooming Nandinas (Nandina domestica 'alba') (right) add some structure and contrasting lime-green new growth. The flowers are quite stunning as well.

These soft 'Blue Angel' Hostas (Hosta 'Blue Angel') filled a big gap in the shade garden to complete the main part of the path. A gift dug from the yard of one of Brian's co-workers, we split one giant-sized Hosta into 3 still giant size clumps. I am almost embarrassed to say this is the first Hosta I have owned, but having limited shade I was drawn to other textures...

... like the beautiful, glossy, foot-wide leaves of the Giant Leopard plant (Farfugium japonicum 'Giganteum'). In late-October these unique plants are topped with yellow aster-like blooms, but the foliage is really the star of the show.

 To help hide the neighbors fence, we added a Climbing Hydrangea (Hydrangea anomala subsp. petiolaris). It is the perfect pick for the spot, as it grabs on to climb surfaces with small hairs along the stem. I gave it a trellis to give it a head start, but now it is slowly searching along the fence for the light. It flowers later than the other hydrangeas, usually starting in mid-June here. Speaking of Hydrangeas, the 'Endless Summer' (Hydrangea macrophylla 'Endless Summer') is looking stunning behind our thinking-spot, an East-facing area that is shaded from the afternoon sun.

 The Southern Wood ferns (Thelypteris kunthii) add a magical feel... we sit here often and look out on the garden to unwind from the day.

"Take a course in good water and air; and in the eternal youth of Nature you may renew your own. Go quietly, alone; no harm will befall you." ~John Muir



  1. Love all your deep shade plant choices. I have several Ghost ferns and love them. I have only ever seen the Giant Leopard plant at the botanical gardens. How does it overwinter in your garden?

  2. Lisa, sounds like we're having very similar weather (I'm in DC/7a). I'm loving that cute little turtle that stopped by your garden! Is he a frequent visitor? Hydrangeas seem to be a common theme amongst garden blogs this week, and your Endless Summers are really pretty. What a perfect spot for them.

  3. Good to connect!
    If you're so inclined, please send some heat this way.
    Northern California is more like England... than England! Having just returned, I can say for certain that the cold wet weather we're having in our dry season is extremely bizarre.
    I do love painted ferns, and the one in my garden is pleased with all the unseasonable rain.
    aka Alice's Garden Travel Buzz!

  4. Love the variety and wildlife in your shade very peaceful


Thanks for taking a walk in our garden.
Your comments are always appreciated.