Growing Concerns 525: Shade garden plants
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Shade loving perennial flowers available
My backyard is pretty much a shade garden. I've been
trying to create a perennial garden over the past couple of years
and would like to add some of the more unusual perennials. Can you
tell me nurseries in the area that carry the more difficult to find
perennials such as Japanese woodland peony, crested iris, etc.
Also, I'd like the names of some reputable catalogs that cater to
The best thing to do is create a list of plants that you want
and search the internet, or call around. Just be sure to use
nurseries or even local farm markets for the more difficult to find
perennials. Large chain stores with garden centers do not
tend to have the more unusual plants. Below is a list of perennials
you may want to look into adding to your current list:
- Grassy blue sedge (Carex glauca), a great foil for
gold leaf hostas
- There are several kinds of meadow rue
(Thalictrum). They are airy beauties such as 6-10
foot tall T. 'Elin' with mauve flowers and T. glaucumwith blue
foliage and sulfur yellow bloom.
- Bugbanes (Cimicifuga varieties)! C. 'Black Negligee'
is a knockout, with white candelabra flowers in late summer on 4 to
6 foot spires above ferny dark maroon foliage.
- Golden satin grass (Hakonechloa macra aureolata) to
light up shady corners.
- Arries yellow corydalis (Corydalis lutea), is a very
long-blooming shade perennial which also has endearing blue green
- Roger's flower is for moist shade (Rodgersia
aesculifolia). It's a plant with such stunning large foliage
that the 4-5 foot stalks of white flowers are a bonus.
- Crested iris (Iris cristata),
- Japanese wax bell (Kirengeshoma palmata). It's
as remarkable for its maple-like leaves and longevity as for its
big yellow bell flowers in September
- Lungworts (Pulmonaria species). There are those
with brightly marked leaves such as 'Moonshine' and 'Excalibur',
among others. These hosta-form plants have blue flowers in early
spring, gorgeous foliage plus staying power in drier and sluggier
- Toadlily (Tricyrtis species and varieties)
for late color. They defy their name and show a kinship to orchids
as they bloom in fall.
- Moss-like Sagina subulata for between your stepping
- Japanese painted fern (Athyrium goeringianum 'Pictum')
as a beacon along the path.
Green thumbs up
to cutting out the brown in that perennial garden. If it's gone
to seed or developed problems clip it. Your eyes and the plant will
Green thumbs down
to strangling tomato and melon plants as the fruit ripens. If
you have them tied to supports, check the ties or replace them with
wide, soft material.
Originally published 7/19/03