The Q&A Archives: Shady Meditation Garden

Question: I live on the coast in Connecticut. I would like to plant a kind of "meditation" garden in the front of my house...but it faces the north and is shaded throughout the day. What can I plant that would do well in the shade in this climate?

Answer: If a meditation garden is intended to be a serene place, you might try a carpet of plants, massing them in drifts or perhaps in an identifiable regular pattern such as a checkerboard or spiral. Hostas are available in many foliage colors and patterns, from green to blue to gold to striped and in many textures and heights. Ferns are another good bet with many types available to choose between. You might also like pulmonaria, tricyrtis, and Solomon's Seal; some shrubs to consider would include Euonymous fortunei (again many patterns and sizes available, some shrubby and some vining) and perhaps itea or clethra. Including a simple path of stones or shells, a larger rock or driftwood or sculptural piece for all-season interest, and perhaps a spot to sit on a hot summer afternoon would all be appropriate, as would a simple gate through which to pass and mark the transition to the garden.

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