Shade Gardens and Shade loving plants
Often when we get lumbered with the prospect of gardening in shade, we find ourselves stumped for ideas and imagine that it's something that is impossible to make beautiful. Stop right there! Shade should never be seen as a problem, if anything, it should be greeted as a potentially gorgeous garden feature. In the scorching rays of summer, the garden with the most shade is the garden that is most used. With the increasing awareness of what the sun can do to your skin, shade is a blessing. Sunburn is reduced, glare is reduced and your pets can also find solace from the summer heat.
Shade Gardens - how does it occur?
Shade occurs in the garden for a variety of reasons. For a lot of gardeners, a shade garden is almost a purposeful deliberate attempt to create a haven from the heat. With others, it's not intentional eg when your neighbor's planted huge trees near the fence line and your garden ends up being shaded or it could be that your newly planted garden has now matured and what used to be a sunny sanctuary has now become a canopied wonderland, thanks to a few large shade trees that you planted years ago.
Shade Gardens - the problems
If you try to plant sun-loving plants in the shade, you will find that they will have pale leaves and appear straggly in their attempts to reach up towards the light. Other problems for shaded areas include :
- most shaded areas in the garden tend to be dank and wet areas that have a tendency to bog easily - although some can be dry shade
- the moisture in the shaded garden often means more plant disease (eg fungal diseases like powdery mildew), mosquitoes, snails are also rife in shade gardens.
- matted roots of shade trees will often make the area under them difficult to plant over. To solve this problem, you either need to prevent it from happening in the first place - and you can do this by watering DEEPLY - ensure that with each watering, the soil around the shade tree is moist to at least 2-3 feet deep. An ingenious (and water saving) way of ensuring deep watering of shade trees is to dig a hole 2-3 feet deep, sink a length of polypipe (wide bore) into the hole and then water monthly with a hose dripping into the polypipe. Alternatively, you can resort to using plants that don't require much soil to grow eg shade loving plants - epiphytes like bromeliads.
Shade Gardens - the different types
Not all shade gardens are the same. Shade is pretty broad a term and can be used to indicate anything from a light dappled shade to a dense shade. The different shade gardens include :
- lightly shaded gardens - light is only slightly reduced to the point where there is no glare
- Semi-shade gardens - similar to what is achieved with a dappled effect that results from shade trees.
- Part shade - this usually refers to an area of the garden that receives shade for part of the day (best to be in the afternoon when the sun is the hottest) and the rest of the time is in direct sun.
- Full shade areas of the garden receive shade throughout the day and doesn't receive any direct sunlight at all - not even the dappled effect.
- Heavy or dense shade are areas where it's almost dark and gloomy - these areas are difficult to find suitable plants to beautify.
- Seasonal shade - this is best achieved through the planting of deciduous trees where you want the shade in summer but desire the warmth of the sun in the winter.
Shade Plants - your options
Small plants and groundcovers for shade gardens
Ajuga - Ajugas available
Anemone - Anemones available
Astilbe - Astilbes available
Begonias - Begonias available
Bergenia - Bergenias available
Coleus - Coleus available
Crocus - Crocuses available
Hosta - Hostas available
Impatiens - Impatiens available
Liriope - Liriopes available
Lobelia - Lobelias available
Lupins - Lupins available
Primulas - Primulas available
Vinca - Vincas available
Small shrubs for shade gardens
Cotoneaster - Cotoneasters available
Euphorbia - Euphorbias available
Fuchsias - Fuchsias available
Plectranthus - Plectranthus available
Rhododendrons - Rhododendrons available
Impatiens - Impatiens available
Medium-large shrubs for shade gardens
Camellia - Camellias available
Viburnum - Viburnums available
Yucca - Yuccas available