Thursday, May 3, 2012

A Seat for a Shade Garden

It's been a busy couple of months here at the Red House Garden, trying to get plants and seedlings in the ground between heat waves.  Between making a new veggie garden, building pathways, building up beds, and deciding I wanted to move half of the plants I already have, I am almost glad for this current heat wave - it gives me an excuse to sit indoors and rest!

One project involved redoing the shade garden.  I've previously posted about the progression of my shade garden.  Last year I had a lot of annual impatiens in it, along with hostas, ferns, bleeding hearts, foxglove, and, of course, my little moss garden.

Last year's shade garden
This year I was eager to see how the garden would look when everything came back up, bare of the colorful annuals.

This year's shade garden
It's so great to see perennials filling in, and I was thrilled that one of my foxgloves overwintered and is now happily blooming again.  I am also excited to see several foxglove seedlings which will hopefully live to give me blooms next year - happy success for a garden that sits on pure, thick red clay.

Foxgloves blooming a second year
What was that you said?  This post is supposed to be about a seat for a shade garden?  Well then, on to rambling about that for awhile..

We've been on a mission for several months to find a proper seat for the shade garden, which would enable us to actually be able to sit out in the garden during the hot summer!  It was Mr. Red House who found it when we were out at the Stone Center over in Durham.

Bench made out of Tennessee sandstone
Their stonemason makes gorgeous benches of out of random 'scrap' stone.  Mr. Red House loved it, and since I've put the kibosh on some of his other garden requests (a Weeping Willow tree and a giant Redwood tree, neither of which we have suitable room for!), I let him have it.  
(Okay, I do have to admit I loved the bench too..)

Of course that meant digging up the garden to make room for it.

The painful part - digging up all the plants

storing all the plants on a tarp
At least it's a great chance to mix in some more compost with that clay!

Add bench and stepping stone, then add back in all the plants
Viola!  The new and improved shade garden:

I feel like I crowded the plants a little to fit them back in.  We'll see what happens next year - I might be moving plants around yet again..

hostas, bleeding hearts, and moss
I also removed the cement planter with the moss garden in it, as it didn't really go.  But the Red House Garden can't be without one for long - I now have a new little moss garden.  I have also placed moss throughout this corner in the hopes that I will eventually end up with one large shady moss garden.

new little moss garden
I only find one thing lacking, and that is some height.  Down the road I will have some more foxglove interspersed throughout the garden, but I think I need something tall in the corner behind the bench.  It has to be able to fit behind the bench, and it needs to tolerate medium shade and not-so-great drainage. 

Any suggestions from you fabulous gardeners out there?


  1. Love the new bench. I also really like your new moss garden. How about a climbing hydrangea up the corner of the fence or on a trellis against the house for some height and it shouldn't take up too much space?

  2. The new bench is great. Wow, I got a chuckle out of Mr. Red House wanting a giant redwood tree. LOL!

  3. Everything looks lush and healthy! I love your bench. I'm picturing some tall Ferns or some Cimicifuga behind the bench.

  4. What a beautiful spot it is now with the new bench. I just love your stone bench. You did a wonderful job in redoing this bed. Love it. It looks so inviting.

  5. What about a life-sized cardboard cut-out of a certain Mr Clooney in that corner. Every garden should have x

  6. I love sandstone in the garden and you found a beautiful bench.

  7. I really like your shade garden. Thanks for sharing your design process with us. My original thought was a native dogwood to fill in that corner, but I don't think there is enough room. Maybe a vine of some sort to train up the wal.

  8. The shade bed looks great, and so does the new bench! Well done! And yes - what a great opportunity to amend that soil a bit. Marvelous that your foxgloves overwintered - I hope you'll have more! I like the idea of a climbing hydrangea. Or what about a camellia? Hard to tell from your photo exactly how much room you have back there. Carolyn's Shade Gardens has some great ideas, photos, and descriptions for plants that do well in shade - a terrific site. If you haven't already checked her out, do!

  9. Thanks for all the suggestions! A climbing hydrangea would be gorgeous - but I don't think Mr. Red House would let me grow anything that would be so hard to get off the house. I've thought of maybe a small tree, maybe a Japanese maple in a container or something? A small camellia might work. It would have to be something that wouldn't be prone to powdery mildew. The Cimicifuga is a possibility, I think!

    And if nothing else, I could go with the life-size cardboard cutout idea. It would definitely be an ice-breaker! Do you have yours prominently displayed in the front yard, Jane? ;)

  10. That red wall will make a perfect foil for whatever you choose to add behind the bench. How gratifying to have that garden in place.

  11. You certainly found a lovely bench. It must have been very heavy to move. Thank goodness it was in three pieces. Yes, you do need something behind the bench but it doesn't look as though there is room for a tree there. How about some kind of climbing plant. One that produces a good deal of leafy foliage which would not be held tight against the wall but would billow over and above the bench. Some foxgloves on either side would add some color and drama. I'm afraid I can't help you much with the vine because I am not familiar with what does well in your part of the country. I hope you have time to sit on the bench!


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