MADE IN THE SHADE
There may be some spots on your property where the sun just don’t shine, but they need not remain bare and barren. Shade perennials thrive without much sunlight. Options include perennials for rich soil and others that require only a moderate amounts of water. These versatile varieties work well in containers, along borders, or in beds. An added bonus: perennials are planted once, and bloom year after year! Some of the best shade perennials to add to color your landscape include:
Astilbe – Known best for their colorful flower plumes, many of the newer astilbe varieties also have showy foliage that may be bronze, pale green, blue green, dark green or wine red. If you choose varieties with different foliage colors, bloom times and heights, they can add lots of interesting color and texture throughout the season.
Bleeding Heart (Dicentra) – The pillow-like flower is heart-shaped with a single dangling pendulous drop. Bleeding hearts are shade-loving woodland plants that bloom in the cool of spring. Although they stay in bloom for several weeks, the plants often disappear for the rest of the summer, if exposed to too much sun or heat. The roots are still alive and it will regrow in the fall or the following spring. The fringed-leaf varieties will repeat bloom throughout the summer.
Bunchberry (Cornus canadensis) – is a native plant of North America. It is in the same family as the dogwood trees, but do not let that fool you. This is a tiny plant, essentially a wildflower. As the name implies, it also features bright red berries in fall.
Columbine (Aquiligia) – comes in a variety of flower colors. Types with brightly-colored blooms may be the best choice for shaded spots, where they bring cheer to otherwise gloomy areas. Generally speaking, the unique shape of columbine is what makes them so special.
Coral Bells (Heuchera) – make fine plants for shady sites. Plant breeders have had a field day with the genus heuchera. There seems to be no end to the variations in leaf color: silvery, burgundy, purple-black, chartreuse, salmon and rusty orange. With heuchera, its the foliage that provides the visual excitement, though some varieties also have showy flowers on tall, slender stems. The variety in the photo is called Chocolate Ruffles.
Lady’s mantle (Alchemilla) – When water falls on this plant’s pleated leaves, it beads up into dazzling little jewels. The flowers, which appear in early June, are yellow-green and make a fabulous filler for bouquets of almost any color. This is a very long-lived and trouble-free plant. The standard-size plant is Alchemilla mollis.
Foam Flower (Tiarella cordifolia) – Similar to heuchera in leaf and form, tiarella has matte rather than shiny leaves, which gives it a slightly more “natural” look. The bottle-brush flowers are white or pale pink and I find them showier than those of most heucheras. New varieties often feature burgundy-red leaf veins.
Other shade perennials to consider: Christmas Fern, Vinca, Lily of the Valley, Hosta, and Creeping Jenny.
Let the experts at R&S help cultivate beauty in the bare spots.