If you have a shady spot in your yard, it’s fairly simple to add a shady structure or trees. Once you’ve done that, it’s time to add interesting shade plants.
Plants that thrive in shade need not be dull or simply green. There are many colorful and exciting annuals, perennials and shrubs that thrive in the shade. Japanese maples are one of my favorites. These delicate trees come in colors ranging from green to rust. They grow slowly and are small side, but because of their lacy appearance, they make a beautiful addition and add a delicate, oriental touch.
If you prefer evergreens, check out Dwarf Alberta Spruce trees. They’re slow growers, but they’re beautifully pyramidal and can be used in containers or on sides of passageways. They’re one of the best evergreens for a shady garden.
Holly, though usually thought to require sunny conditions, will thrive in the shade at our high altitude. Holly provides year-round interest and is decorative throughout the winter holidays as well. The berries provide a flash of color.
Shrubs that provide color include azaleas, hydrangeas and rhododendrons. All three bloom beautifully in the spring, providing a burst of color ranging from pinks to lilacs to purples. Their leafy foliage is a pretty contrast during the rest of the growing season.
Endless Summer Hydrangeas are one of my favorites. These big, bushy shrubs have enormous heads of blue or pink blossoms. They bloom endlessly throughout the summer, so they’re a great choice for seasonal color.
Perennials that require shade are numerous, and depending on the type of look you are trying to achieve, the choices can be mind-boggling. Hostas are an old standby, but new colors ones are being introduced, so it may be worth your time to give them a second look. Lamium is a low-growing perennial that comes in several colors ranging from white to pink and makes a pretty border. Lily of the Valley is another old-fashioned favorite that your grandmother probably had in her garden. In this area, they need deep shade to survive.
Campanulas are pretty blue or white flowers that act nicely as a border or low-growing plant in the shade garden. For a little height, try Coral Bells. These mounding plants throw spiky coral-colored flowers and are especially pretty in early summer.
A slightly larger perennial that some gardeners would say borders on being a bush is a Bleeding Heart. Many varieties are available, and most come in white or a shade of pink. These can get fairly large – up to 2 feet high and wide so be sure to give them plenty of room.
Although annuals that require shade are not as numerous, there are several that do quite well. Try impatiens for a burst of color. Seed impatiens are available in just about every color imaginable. Begonias are another old-fashioned favorite but one that shouldn’t be overlooked. They’ll do well in your shade garden while providing a pop of color.
You might also want to try coleus, for their interesting texture and contrast. Coleus have been wisely used for decades, but new varieties are introduced yearly. There are even sun-loving varieties now.
Shade gardens need not be dull. Visit your local garden center and see what their offerings are to enhance the shady spots in your yard. Then grab a tall, cold glass of lemonade and enjoy the shade until the heat wave passes.
Gail Vanik can be reached at 970-565-8274 or by email at email@example.com.