There is something so peaceful about a shade garden, the place that draws you in with the coolness and fragrance in the heat of the summer
Thoughts from the Cottage…
Remember it is about texture not color! Choose plants that vary in leaf size and texture. Bold leaf textures and shades of green are contrasts that are a pleasure to the senses. I once planted meadow rue in a very shaded location. While I lost that wonderful, foamy flower, (just not enough sun) I did get the light, tall, vertical foliage contrast I was looking for. It is fun to break the rules and experiment!
Now add interesting items such as rocks, benches, trellises or birdbaths. Talk about peaceful and inspiring! In fact in the heat of summer, shade is as welcome to many plants as it is to gardeners. Put in a bench and enjoy the cool patch when everywhere else is too hot to bear.
Living with the dark side
Think layer, layer and layers! Shade planting is a series of layers. Each layer interacts and fit with the one above it. Every plant added will create shade for the one below it. The first layer is the canopy trees which are the tallest, than the understory trees (smaller trees that live in the dappled shade of the taller trees) then shrubs, next perennials and groundcover and finally bulbs.
Take a look around and see what grows naturally. Informal design is the way to go, just like nature. Look to nature for inspiration on ways to combine asymmetry and randomness, relay on texture more than color. Find silvery leaves like lambs ears to contrast with the smooth dark green of hostas.