The Q&A Archives: what to do!

Question: I need to put something in front of my house in a triangle shaped patch of dirt. It is in the shade most of the day. I need inexpensive and easy maintainance.

Answer: The queen of the shade garden is of course the Hosta plant. There are thousands of varieties of this plant - from huge ones stretching four to five feet wide to tiny little ones that could grow in a thimble.

A plant that resembles Hosta because it has great foliage but differs in that it has marvellous spring blooms is Lungwort. Or you can grow Helleborus or Christmas Rose. Coral Bells, or Heuchera are easy to grow and are now available in leaf colors ranging from bright gold 'Lime Rickey' to almost black 'Obsidian', You can combine them to give summer-long foliage contrast.

Lunaria or Money Plant is extremely easy to grow and does well in the shade. Tricyrtis or Toadlilies are a superb fall-blooming plant. Their delicate flowers won't compete with fall mums but they are in a class by themselves when it comes to fairy-like flowers.

Or you could plant seasonal annuals and change them out as the seasons change. Pansies and primroses now while it's cool, then snapdragons and lobelia as the weather warms, then impatiens and Japanese painted ferns. The choice is almost endless. Enjoy your new flower bed!

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