Shade Gardening: How To Create A Stunning Shade Garden

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White, cream, pale yellow, lilac, light mauve and pale pink show up best. Add variegated plants for splashes of cream, yellow and white.

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There are various degrees of shade. Light shade means slight shade for all or most of the day; partial shade means plants are in sun for some of the day; dappled shade is blotchy shade created when the sun filters through overhead foliage. For shady places with dry or damp soil it pays to be selective — some plants thrive in these conditions.

You can even find plants that suit really difficult situations such as shady watersides or areas under large trees whose roots suck all the moisture out of the ground in summer.

24 Spectacular Shade Garden Perennials

If you have borders of moist but well-drained and humus-rich soil in light shade, you can grow choice woodland plants which need exactly these conditions. Discover more plants for full shade. Many popular border plants, such as campanula , stachys and golden rod, grow happily in both sun and light shade. Some plants actually prefer shady conditions. These include aquilegia , foxglove , bleeding heart , pulmonaria and brunnera pictured.


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Discover six plants for dappled shade. Dry shade is often caused by trees, which suck moisture out of the soil. Suitable plants include: lords and ladies, barrenwort , cranesbill geraniums , hellebores , astrantia , ivy , cyclamen , Viola labradorica and sweet rocket. Discover 20 plants for dry shade. Plants that will grow in these conditions typically suit boggy areas, at the edges of ponds and rivers. Read more about flowers for damp shade and foliage plants for damp shade.

Mix a variety of colors, shapes, and textures, planting them in matching pots to tie the look together. All three plants thrive with moderate water in a spot that gets partial shade. A shady spot can even boast a cut-flower garden! In bouquets, the pale blooms mix well with pastel-colored flowers while the deeper petal color late in the season transitions well to fall. In the front yard, Rau mixes native ferns, grasses, and pink-flowered Heuchera maxima for a hiking trail that leads right to the front door.

The garden needs barely any supplemental water. This is indicative of a long-term climate situation, and we need to be prepared.


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This unthirsty, silvery-green border is great to brighten up a shady spot. Large Agave attenuata offer stunning architecture without any spines. The best way to prevent a hillside from eroding is to plant it and let the roots take hold. The key to success: Pick the right blend of shrubs and small trees whose leaves and branches create contrasts in color, texture, shape, and size.

To make each plant stand out, set big-leafed plants beside fine-leafed ones, and spice up a mostly green palette with variegated plants that provide hits of gold, bronze, and purple. This moisture-loving Seattle shade border hits all those notes—plus it looks good even in winter, when the woody stems of deciduous elements combine with evergreens to give it structure.

Plants, arranged low to tall, grow up an incline, adding extra depth and drama. Johanna Silver. Thomas J. Curves and loops, such as the figure-eight design of this garden path, are good. Start with low growers and creepers along the path and build from there. Make sure to add some tall plants to the garden. Their height bridges the visual gap between the lower plants and tree canopy making the trees seem less looming. In addition to the bottlebrush buckeye Asculus parviflora in the back of the garden, there are a few burgundy banana plants Musa hybrid in containers.

Even shade gardens get some daylight. So watch your garden at different times of day and take note of places where the sun comes through the canopy. That way you can grow a few plants that prefer more light.

Shade Gardening | McDonald Garden Center

This area near the deck gets a few hours of sun each morning, enough that even the big bananas and yellow Asiatic lilies Lilium hybrid can thrive. Full sun would scorch the leaves, but a few hours of daylight keep them a nice golden yellow.

colorful plants for shade gardens

The original plan for this path called for crushed gravel to keep with the casual woodland feel of the garden.