The Q&A Archives: Shady areas

Question: I live in central NY state and our yard is full of shady areas. What is a good perenial ground cover for shaded areas? Also a good climbing flowery vine for our fence which is mostly in shaded areas?

Answer: There are dozens of them that will do well is shade but here are some of my favorites:

Astilbe -- A fern-like plant, 12 to 18 inches tall with spires of white or pink flowers in June, July and August, likes plenty of water. A real foundation of any shade garden.

Bergenia -- Large cabbage-like leaves, pretty pink flowers on stalky stems. Evergreen for most of the year.

Columbine -- Aquilegia has dozens of cultivars. Pretty spring to early summer bloomer that will disappear in summer heat.

Coral Bells -- Heuchera has big leaves in green tinged with pink and purple. Flower is very attractive to hummingbirds. Many new varieties that make this easy-care winner one of the most "hip" plants to grow among the cognoscenti.

Dicentra -- Bleeding heart will fill the garden with color in May and June and then spread under moist conditions. Dig up the sprouts and give them to your friends.

Hellebores -- Blooms in February or March and then has evergreen palmate leaves for the rest of the year. Will spread by seed.

Hosta -- The king and queen of the shade garden in all type of shade either wet or dry. I like the blue shades of hosta in particular but there are hundreds in green, yellow, blue and variegated that bloom at different times from early summer till late.

Ligularia -- Loves moist shade. Produces big leaves with a stalky yellow flower that takes up a big space in your garden. Exotic but very interesting.

Lily of the Valley -- An ancient favorite that has such an aromatic and lovely bloom you will feel you are in a fairy story you want to read to your kids.

Pulmonaria ? Lungwort is one of my all-time favorites with pink, red or blue flowers on short, 12 inch stalks in May and June. Easy to grow and spreads like crazy. An easy plant to dig and separate for your friends.

Spiderwort -- Tradescantia produces one flush of tiny blue, pink or even white flowers in June then goes semi-dormant for the rest of the summer. It is not a fantastic plant but it is very reliable in almost any type of shade.

The perennials for your shade garden can be planted anytime the soil can be worked. Certainly from late April until early October are great times to work in your shade. garden. If you plant in July and August, remember that these months can be very hot and dry and you should provide extra water.

Either climbing hydrangea or sweet autumn clematis will work as a flowering vine in your gardening region.

Best wishes with your garden!

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