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Posts Tagged ‘Shade plants’

Although it is dreary and rainy today, I am happy because we are getting some much-needed rain. Rain or shine, this time of year my garden looks both wonderful and riotous. I thought I would share a picture of what the front garden looks like this week, plus shots of a couple major players.

Garden-April-2017

Above: Wild blue phlox (Phlox divaricata) in shades of purple and white fill the garden this time of year. Phlox self sows and pops up in shady parts of the front garden as well as the areas (toward the foreground) that receive a good amount of sun, meaning 6 or 7 hours of direct sun per day.

 

Aquilegia-Little-Lanterns

Above: I love full size wild columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) and have it everywhere in the garden, since it is a generous self-seeder. The plant above is ‘Little Lanterns’ (A. canadensis ‘Little Lanterns’) a dwarf cultivar that is 10 to 12 inches tall, self sows, and reliably comes true from seed.

Erigeron

Above: This is one of my new favorites: Robin’s plantain (Erigeron pulchellus ‘Lynnhaven Carpet’). Plants are currently covered with cheerful yellow and white daisies that arise from ground-hugging rosettes of gray-green leaves. Flowers are maybe 8 to 10 inches tall, but the leaves are only about 2 or 3 inches tall. (If it wasn’t raining right this minute, I would go out and measure!) This native species thrives in part shade to shade, tolerates a wide range of conditions, and spreads to form a nice, dense carpet.

The purple leaves in the photograph above are purple Japanese parsley (Cryptotanea japonica ‘Purpurea). They self sow and pop up here and there. I love the rich color of their leaves. (I don’t think they are edible despite the common name.) I was planting a garden at a friend’s house this morning in the rain, and I realized that some of them had piggy-backed their way to her a year or so ago with divisions of other plants.

Enjoy the rain!

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Primarily prized for their handsome foliage, heucheras or alumroots (Heuchera spp.) occupy a well-earned spot on my list of native perennials for shade. About 55 species belong to the genus, most from the western United states. Two are native to the Chesapeake Bay region: American alumroot (H. americana) and hairy alumroot (H. villosa). These two species, together with West Coast native crevice alumroot (H. micrantha), have been hybridized extensively to bring us a range of handsome plants suitable for shade gardens.

The Mount Cuba Center in Hockessin, Delaware, recently published the results of their three-year evaluation of heuchera hybrids.  Since I only have one of their top-ten hybrids in my garden, I have some planting to do!  Luckily, I visited the trial over the past few years and took photos of a couple of the top-ten plants. For a complete report on the trial, including a list of all ten top-scoring heucheras, see Mt. Cuba Center heuchera.

Heuchera-'Southern-Comfort'

Above: Heuchera ‘Southern Comfort’ was among the top-rated heucheras and one of my favorites among the trial plants. In addition to the foliage color, I especially loved the size: Plants are about 14 inches tall and spread to about 3 feet.

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Spring was late this year, to be sure, but in recent weeks the pace has picked up considerably in my garden. This morning, I am sharing a few spring plant combinations. For the most part, my spring combinations depend on self-sowing perennials such as wild blue phlox (Phlox divaricata) and Virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginiana). I am also seeing self-sown plants of great merrybells (Uvularia grandiflora) that are just getting large enough to bloom. My division of this early blooming wildflower originally came from my mother’s garden.

Later today, I hope to see some Eastern Shore Gardeners at Twigs & Teacups in Chestertown, Maryland, for First Friday. I’ll be at the store from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. signing books, answering questions, and talking about gardens. Also, don’t forget to come to the plant sales next Friday at Fountain Park in Chestertown and Saturday in Rock Hall! Both sales begin at 9:00 a.m., and you will find a number of the plants pictured here among the offerings!

Uvularia-grandiflora,Sangui

Above: Favorite spring flowers, taken April 17. Great merrybells (Uvularia grandiflora), double bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis ‘Flore Pleno’), and Dutchmen’s breeches (Dicentra cucularia)

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I don’t normally drag my camera out into the garden, but I was weeding a few days ago (click here if you missed my recent thoughts on the importance of this task in winter) and noticed a ground cover that was looking quite pretty. Since handsome ground covers in January are worth taking a second look at, I wanted to share some pictures. This is especially true since the plant I’m highlighting today is growing in partial shade and less-than-ideal soil conditions.

Hypericum-Brigadoon

The plant that caught my eye is ‘Brigadoon’ Aaron’s beard (Hypericum calycinum ‘Brigadoon’). I have to say I haven’t particularly noticed its yellow, five-petaled flowers, which appear in late spring, but the golden yellow new growth is certainly eye-catching this January. (Plants are semi-evergreen, so they are primarily valued for late summer to fall foliage value; it seems that the weather this year makes January an extension of fall!) Since my clump isn’t growing in full sun, it’s a mix of yellow foliage mixed with older bronzy green stems.

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I left the Mid-Atlantic Nursery Trades Show (MANTS) in Baltimore last week with a deep case of plant lust. This is a serious problem on a number of levels, not the least of which is the fact that it’s beastly cold and snowy outside—hardly the season for planting.

Normally, I come away from such shows with lists of annuals and perennials I’d like to try. The lust for these beauties is easily satisfied, since it’s a relatively simple matter to find garden space for them. This year, however, a couple species of native shrubs and trees grabbed my attention. Finding room for them is another matter altogether.

Hydrangea-quercifolia

Above: Oakleaf hydrangea with daylily ‘Patricia Fay’.

Oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia) has been in every garden I’ve ever had, and the MANTS show renewed my my interest in this handsome native shrub. For those of you who don’t know it, it is a deciduous, summer-blooming shrub that also features fabulous fall color and attractive exfoliating bark. Plants range from 6 to 8 or more feet tall. They spread by suckers, and Michael Dirr (Manual of Woody Landscape Plants) estimates the spread at 10 to 12 or more feet wide.

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