|working in the shade garden - spring 2017|
My shade garden is at the Northwest corner of the house. It has an awkward corner shape and transitions from deep shade right next to the house to sun near the edges, with pockets of hot afternoon sun that sometimes poses a challenge for plantings. It also is where all of the ugly utility boxes are mounted. It is a work in progress (isn't it always?), but it has come a long way in the last three years, and I enjoy looking back and seeing its progression from barren nothingness.
This is the only 'before' photo I could find of this area, from the spring of 2014. This corner slopes downwards and to the left. This photo is from when we put in drainage to redirect water that was leaking into our unfinished basement from the gutter spout. A couple large boulders on the left hold up soil.
In the fall of 2014, Mr. Red House and I built a low retaining wall to help with the slope. With the addition of more soil, my shade garden was born.
That fall and the next spring we put in a few tiny trees - two Japanese maples, a weeping Canadian Hemlock, and a little Carolina Silverbell - and started putting in plants, including Japanese anemone. Stepping stones were added to make a clear path to all the utility boxes. Native ferns happily pop up by themselves near the house, which we enjoy.
In 2016 we added a few more plants. I used the sunny edges of the wall to grow Ground Cherries (which the chipmunks promptly ate for their water content during our drought). The Japanese anemone and ferns started getting a little out of control, and there wasn't enough access to the utility boxes without wading through plants. The shade garden really needed some work.
This spring I pulled out some of the plants, moved some around, and added more much-needed stepping stones to the utility area. The shade garden now has a lovely progression of flowers throughout the spring beginning with early spring bulbs and including a number of miniature daffodils that are planted along the edge of the retaining wall.
|the miniature daffodil 'Mite'|
The pink is mimicked throughout the garden by Old-fashioned Bleeding Heart, a favorite of mine ever since seeing it growing up in my grandmother's garden...
|Old-fashioned Bleeding Heart|
...and then continued by the dark pink Azaleas.
The bright pinks are softened by touches of white from Summer Snowflakes and hostas...
...as well as the blooms of the now much-larger Carolina Silverbell.
|Carolina Silverbell tree|
Another favorite of mine, the Foamflower, blooms in a little cloud of softer pink.
|birdbath with foamflower blooming on the right|
Other spring blooms in the shade garden include epimediums, ajuga, lungwort, lanium, and brunnera. Later will bloom white clematis, cotoneaster, heuchera, hostas, ligularia, iris, Japanese anemone, and grey-headed coneflowers that I have planted along the sunny edges of the garden.
|purple heuchera leaves contrast with that of a weeping Japanese maple|
This spring I also acquired a few special native woodland plants - trillium, bloodroot, and trout lily - that I tucked under the growing trees and look forward to seeing in bloom next year. The shade garden is filling out!
There are still some plants to move and things to do, but I love the progress on my shade garden so far...
...and happily I'm not the only one.