CHOOSING THE RIGHT PLANTS FOR SHADE GARDENS WITH GARDEN PARTY
Garden Party is a garden design and maintenance company co-owned by us: Amber Stafford and Courtney-Anne Craft, two plant-loving freaks of nature. We are here to tell you that being a green thumb is all nurture, not nature. There will be trial, error, and a few #fails, but we believe that with a few helpful tips on the how, what and why of plant selection you can turn any space into a lush, green garden paradise. Last month we shared tips for choosing the best plants for your garden, and why you should choose native plants. Today we will be covering different types of garden shade and which plants to choose for each.
Let us talk about darkness, the spaces light dare not go, the nooks, the crannies, the forgotten corners of our outdoor world - let’s talk about shade gardening. Can we embrace our shadowy spaces and grow within them? Yes, with a ‘right plant, right place’ attitude, we certainly can! In an urban setting, there are many kinds of shade to contend with when considering the right place for your plant life.
Types of shade and what they mean for plants:
Dense Shade: The toughest of the shade types, it is the wall of darkness created most often by human-made structures or dense evergreen hedging. It is the only dead end of our post - promise! The very best option is to make any dense shade corners of your outdoor space; a seating area so you can beat the heat, a walkway, a spot for a fountain or birdbath. Or you could place potted plants here that you can easily move into the sun every day to catch a few rays.
Full Shade: These are areas that experience sunlight at different times in the season, or have reflected light bouncing on it. Here, grow plants that explicitly say on the label ‘Full Shade’. You can also create reflected light with light coloured fencing, walkways, and stones. Gently guide the light in.
Plants for Full Shade: Hosta, Fern, Euphorbia
Light Shade: An area that is not completely deprived of all light, maybe there is a good amount of dappled light for a considerable amount of the day. Yay! Wait, what is ‘dappled’, anyway? Dappled light means that the movement of leaves and canopy of vegetation on top filters out most of the sun’s rays but will let some still pass through.
Plants for Light Shade: Astilbe, Bleeding Heart, Begonia (Annual)
Part Shade: These areas receive direct sunlight, but not long enough to be categorized as full sun areas. There are two sub-categories to consider here: Morning Shade; areas that are in shade at dawn and dusk but well lit in afternoon, and Afternoon Shade areas that are shaded in afternoon and well lit at dawn and dusk. For Morning Shade we advise to pick a plant with a tag that says it is ‘Part Sun’ to ‘Full Sun’ tolerant, although there may not be full sun hours (categorized at 6 hours plus), that afternoon, the summer sun is intense and not all plants can handle this. For ‘Afternoon Shade’ plants with tags that just say ‘Part-Sun’ tolerant are a.o.k.!
Plants for Part Morning Shade: Baptisia, Amsonia, Salvia
Plants for Part Afternoon Shade: Brunnera, Hydrangeas
Shade comes in many forms, it is important to be honest about just what kind of shade you’ve got on your hands and to notice that even on a small balcony, every type of shade can exist.
Shade plants are often green with minimal to no blossom potential. Do not despair, first of all, green is GORGEOUS! We think so! Secondly, look for variegation. Green leaves with swipes of yellow and white can add so much light and dimension to a shady spot.
We live in a city, a city that is lucky to still have a substantial tree canopy, this means that shade is inevitable. Through observation of your space and shrewd label reading at the nursery; the forgotten corners of our outdoor spaces can indeed become rayless retreats and secret gardens.
XO, Garden Party www.gardenpartyto.com
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