With the opportunity to do some landscaping when we moved into our house, I chose plants for functionality (skip laurels for privacy) and sentimentality (a dogwood and a japanese maple, familiar from my childhood). Being a novice gardener, I was next drawn to showy flowering plants, most requiring full to partial sun. Left neglected? A large portion of the yard in almost full shade where not even the grass would grow.
So what's a girl to do? Why consult with our favorite local outdoor living expert, Susan Cohan, of course! I had thought that the shady corner was destined to be a mass of bland ferns but she helped me understand the potential that this space holds. Now, thanks to her, I've got a list of plants hand-picked to grace my shady corner which should (fingers crossed!) withstand the abundant shade, local deer population and the weather extremities of our zone 6-6B climate.
The Calycanthus, or sweetshrub, is an top choice for a blooming shrub in my shade garden.
Images by Will Cook.
LEFT: Heuchera which, as Susan put it, "sometimes Bambi eats." Image from Urban Farmer. CENTER: Actaea simplex (recently known as Cimicifuga simplex) or snakeroot. Image from Fine Gardening. RIGHT: Helleborus. Image from Wikipedia.
LEFT: Galium odoratum, or sweet woodruff. Image from White Flower Farm. CENTER: Polygonatum, or Solomon's seal. Image from Cortesia Solomon's Seal. RIGHT: Brunnera macrophylla, or Siberian bugloss. Image from Fine Gardening.
ORNAMENTAL GRASSES AND FERNS
As Susan points out, almost all ornamental grasses are deer-resistant. She favors the 'All Gold' (left) and 'Aureola'(center) varieties of the low-growing Hakonechloa makcra, or Japanese forest grass. Ferns are another shade favorite such as this Osmunda cinnamomea, or cinnamon fern. Images from Monrovia and Greenwood Nursery.
LEFT: Mahonia bealei, or leatherleaf mahonia. Image from Floridata. CENTER: Cephalotaxus harringtonia, or Japanese Plum Yew. Image from Monrovia. RIGHT: Sarocca hookeiana var humilis, or sweetbox. Image from NC State University.
Well, that's sure a lot to process. Thanks so much, Susan, for the consult! I'm off now to shape the beds for my new shade garden. I can't wait to be rid of all that not-quite-grass!