I PRE-ORDER CERTAIN ANNUALS—reserving whole flats of favorites with my local garden center to make sure I won’t get shut out. Normally that early commitment includes a favorite peachy-colored impatiens, but this year, I’m not so sure. Impatiens downy mildew ravaged the popular bedding plant in many parts of the country last year, so I asked Margery Daughtrey, a plant pathologist and senior Extension associate with Cornell University, what the early line is from where she sits in her Suffolk County, Long Island, lab–and some substitutes I might consider for that annual order of mine. [read more…]
The older my garden gets, the more shady beds and borders I have. Great plants and sensible strategies for growing in shade.
THE PLANT CATALOGS look delicious, but what plans have you made for where those wishlist items might go, and how many of each do you need to make them really say something in the garden? I love creating mixed plantings of shade treasures–bulbs and perennials, and especially extra-early bloomers–under deciduous trees and shrubs. I call the process “Making Mosaics,” and it’s one of the how-to sidebars in my latest book, “The Backyard Parables.” Now it’s also a new video, with photos I’ve taken here at my place. [read more…]
IN THE WAY THAT PINE CONES fascinate me, I’m taken in by the seedheads of Northern sea oats, too—and actually, they’re a little bit like a flattened cone, aren’t they? One of three shade-tolerant ornamental grasses I grow, Chasmanthium latifolium is an American native. Chasmanthium latifolium, up close: [read more…]
I DON’T RECALL HOW I FOUND THEM—maybe it was while fixing something, or painting the house all those years ago. But for some reason I was down at ground level, peering under the floor of the front porch, and there they were, in near-darkness: two tiny trillium plants. I rescued them, and you know how it goes when a plant thanks you for your help: Now I have hundreds, thanks to those first two, and to a tip handed down from a great gardener about dividing them when they’re in flower. Yes, like right now. [read more…]
SHADE IS A TRICKSTER, CAPTURING AND RELINQUISHING territory as years pass and woody plants grow—or are damaged or lost. Twenty-five years into gardening on one site, some former “shade gardens” here now bake, and even more spots that were sunny—well, you get the changeable, unpredictable picture. Thankfully, for the latter areas, I have old clumps of lower-light plants to divide, including those in this new slideshow of my top 54 shade subjects. I included some woodland-garden shrubs and trees for those seeking to manufacture some shade of their own—or wanting to add more understory structure to what nature has provided. [read more…]