Dress up those Shady Garden Spots


Designing a Wasilla shade garden doesn’t have to be a hassle, not if you know the right plants to choose. There are so many plants that will thrive in the shade--probably a lot more than you think-- from perennials to annuals. Gardeners can choose ferns, woodland flowers and luxurious ground covers. Whether your shade garden will be an accent or a focal point, here are some plants that should fit right in.

Summer Color

A very pretty shade perennial to consider is ligularia (Ligularia spp.), which blooms in tall spikes of golden flowers. Plant ligularia toward the back of the shade garden as it can top out at 8 feet if it’s happy.

Another plant that will add a pop of color to the shade garden is the annual ColorSummer Wave® Large Blue Torenia (Torenia ‘SUNrenilabu’).  Growing to a diminutive 8 to 10 inches in height, this little plant packs a wallop in not only color but fragrance as well (the leaves, not the flowers). It bears amethyst-colored, viola-like flowers throughout the summer. You’ll love this one for its drought tolerance and for the fact that it thrives in the shade.

Ground Covers

Sweet woodruff (Galium odoratum) has tiny leaves and blooms in fragrant, starry white flowers. You’ll need to keep the soil consistently moist with this groundcover or it will go dormant. Bishop’s weed (Aegopodium podagraria 'Variegatum') tolerates dry soil and bears gorgeous variegated foliage. It does need a bit more light than what is found in heavy shade, however. The best part of growing bishop’s weed as a groundcover is that if it starts to look ratty, use the lawnmower to shear it and it will come back with new foliage.

Gorgeous Foliage Plants 

No self-respecting shade garden in Wasilla would dare call itself complete without a few hostas (Hosta spp.) sprinkled here and there. With their striking foliage there is a variety to accent anything planted near them. Hosta keeps a low profile, so it's great for the front of the garden or bed, but you can place them in among the taller plants as well. Varieties suited to the Wasilla shade garden include ‘Patriot’ and ‘Sum and Substance.’

If you’re looking for a lower-profile yet still dramatic and eye-catching foliage plant, consider coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides). With foliage that comes in a rainbow of colors, from pastels to psychedelic, they’re the ideal plant for the front of the bed.

Give that barren spot a shot of the tropics by planting a fern or two. They are easy to grow and will pretty much take care of themselves. Ferns do require rich soil, very much like what you would find in the forest where they grow naturally.

It’s important to amend the soil with lots of compost. Ferns do like moisture so don’t let the soil dry out. Choose from among those that are adapted to Wasilla, such as the ostrich fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris) or lady fern (Athyrium filix-femina), which is a bit more tolerant of dry soil.

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