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…]
The older my garden gets, the more shady beds and borders I have. Great plants and sensible strategies for growing in shade.
THE MOST COLORFUL CREATURES HERE as April turns to May: returning male birds in mating plumage. The last week included the arrival of rose-breasted grosbeaks and Baltimore orioles…but I am straying, as the point is plants, right? Oops. A look at what’s blooming (including Uvularia grandiflora, above), the second in a series of new slideshows during this busiest of changing garden times. [read more…]
I ALWAYS START TO FEEL BETTER, like we’re turning a corner, when the hybrids of Helleborus orientalis jump all the way up out of the ground and start showing off. After a couple of weeks of timid semi-bloom, with the flowers hugging close to the ground on unextended stalks as if in fear of assault by lingering winter blasts, here they finally come. More on these favorite plants, including a podcast: [read more…]
IT FELT LIKE SUCH A BIG SCORE the day many years ago when I found the bottlebrush buckeye, Aesculus parviflora, in a nursery in New Bedford, Massachusetts, even though the plant was just a small thing in a plastic pot at the time. Now it’s my biggest shrub, and also one of my favorites, for it hummocky shape, handsome leaves that turn gold in fall, and easy, basically disease-free disposition. [read more…]
ILOVE THE OPPORTUNISTS AMONG BULBS–the beauties that ask only enough full sun to get up and growing each year, develop their foliage and finish flowering, and then will do with dappled shade. I grow some snowflakes (Leucojum) that way, and extra-early little Eranthis hyemalis (the winter aconite), and even lots of big Narcissus under my old apple trees. Then friends turned me on to a couple of other charmers that have found similar homes here in recent years: a Spanish bluebell called ‘Excelsior,’ above, and a little daffodil called ‘Hawera.’ [read more…]