I often hear gardeners complain about their shade gardens: how nothing will grow there and how trees roots make planting so difficult. In fact, I used to complain about gardening in the shade myself. Then I got smart (at least, that’s my take on it!).
It struck me one day that the shady parts of my garden actually needed less care than the sunny ones. Yes, plants there grow more slowly, but, if you pick the right ones, they still do fill in over time. Plus, I realized that, when I needed to relax, it was always to the shade garden that I went. It was cooler on those hot summer days, to start with – in fact, much cooler! – but somehow a shady nook is just more conducive to relaxing than a busy sunny border. I tend to move more slowly in my shade garden, to stop and notice details more, to more readily disconnect from life’s troubles. Mine really became for me a haven of peace and quiet. I know that sounds corny, but it’s true!
With spring around the corner, why not try to look at your shade garden with different eyes? True, it’s not always going to be a nonstop riot of bloom like some sun-filled gardens can be, but foliage colors, shapes and textures have their own subtle charm. You’ll find there are fewer weeds in the shade and, even when you do have to weed, it’s not as backbreaking as weeding in the burning sun. Start experimenting with shade-tolerant plants: not just the usual hostas and ferns, but epimediums, carexes, Solomon’s seals, winterberries, etc. The list just goes on and on: there are literally thousands of plants that don’t just tolerate shade, they really thrive on it.
Successful shade gardening essentially becomes more a question of attitude than anything else. Learn to love your shade garden and you’ll be surprised by the pleasure it will bring you.
For more on successfully gardening in the shade, might I suggest one of my books, Making the Most of Shade? Enjoy reading it… and enjoy gardening in the shade.