In the Shade
Dark Secrets: Shedding some light on gardening in the shade
Shade presents its own set of challenges for the gardener... but if you consider it an opportunity rather than a liability, you can create beautiful landscaping effects. Shade gardens are particularly inviting in the heat of summer, providing a cool respite from the sun. And while shade gardens are known for their rich greens, they also provide colourful options as well.
The first step to building a successful shade garden is to determine the type of shade you have. This is an important factor in choosing plants that will thrive. Plants that do well in shade usually have more chlorophyll than plants adapted to the sun. They're more sensitive to light and too much sunlight will burn them or turn leaves yellow.
There are four broad categories of shade that are used as landscaping industry standards. These include:
Dappled Shade, the brightest category. This is the type of light shade caused by moving shadows from open trees.
Open Shade is found on the north side of buildings, fences, etc. where direct sunlight is blocked, but indirect light is bounced into the shadow areas.
Medium Shade is also found on northern exposures, but light is further prevented from reaching the area by trees, foliage and branches. Lawns in areas like this will be sparser than in brighter areas.
Dense Shade presents the biggest challenge for growth, and limits plant selection options. It is found in north-facing areas shielded by high walls on the sides or under a dense canopy of trees.
Make a note of where these shade types fall around your home before planning the garden. You may be able to increase light levels in some areas by pruning foliage to allow more light through, or by painting walls or fences a lighter colour to reflect more light on to shaded areas.
Once you've determined the shade levels around your home, your garden center can help you select plants that are adapted to each area. There are many options for all but the deepest shade. Here are just a few:
Description:Evergreen shrubs with attractive, waxy leaves. Red, pink, white flowers blooms spring to mid-summer.
Dappled shade, moist, acid soil. Plant with plenty of well-watered peat moss around the root ball.
Description: Annual flowering plant with white, pink, red, orange or magenta flowers and attractive foliage.
Light to dense shade, moist soil. Also ideal for containers.
Description: Large, broad leaves, on clusters of many stems, sometimes variegated. White to lilac blooms mid-summer to fall.
Light to dense shade, rich well-drained soil.
Plant : Tuberous Begonia
Description: Showy flowers in white, yellow, pink, orange and red, with large dark green or red-green leaves.
Light shade in moist, well-drained soil. Must be brought indoors to survive over winter.
lily-of-the-valley, columbine, Jacob's ladder, trillium, purple violets, bloodroot, dog violet, hepatica, ferns, etc.
Description: A wide range of colourful flowers in early spring, changing to lush green foliage as trees leaf out.
Light to dappled shade in springtime, to deep shade in summer. Use only those types cultivated for sale in garden centers, not dug up in the wild.
There are many more types of shade-loving or shade-tolerant plants available... and the results can be quite spectacular.
Most shade plantings will benefit from the addition of compost, and be sure to fertilize regularly. Use any good quality all-purpose fertilizer such as C-I-L® All Purpose fertilizer.