The Q&A Archives: Shade Garden ideas in MA

Question: I live in MA and have no gardening experience at all. I would like to plant perennials in two small flower beds on either side of my front walk (approx. area=5-6' long X 4' wide). This area is mostly shaded (85% of the day). I like the look of the tall grasses, hostas but I also would like some color. Can you recommend hardy, low maintenance plants and placement ideas? Thank you!

Answer: Some of the prettiest shade loving plants include:
Astilbe 'Glow', An Arendsii hybrid, 'Glow' has dark red buds opening to multihued rose-red blossoms in panicles on 30" stems in early-mid summer. Foliage is quite bronze early in the season, becoming more green with summer's warm temps. Astilbe appreciate evenly moist soil conditions.

Actaea 'Hillside Black Beauty' this selection of "Bugbane" or "Fairy Candles" forms 1-2' clumps of dark chocolate colored foliage. 4-6' stems carrying wands of creamy white fragrant flowers appear in late summer and early fall. Plant near light colored or brilliant gold Hosta to really set off the dark foliage.

Anemone japonica 'Honorine Jobert' White single blossoms with yellow centers on sturdy 3' stems bring grace to the garden in late-summer and early autumn.

Aquilegia vulgaris 'Leprechaun Gold', Aquilegia, commonly known as Columbine, delights in late spring with its charming spurred blossoms. What I like about 'Leprechaun Gold', besides it's dark violet flowers, is its colorful green splashed gold foliage.

Campanula persicifolia 'La Belle' produces loose racemes of sky blue old fashioned roses on 2' stems. Need I say more? Blooms in June and July and makes an exquisite bouquet.

Helleborus 'Royal Heritage Strain', A patented strain of hybrid Hellebore in an array of colors ranging from green through white into deep pinks and mauve.

When setting plant in your garden bed, place the tallest in the center or along the back so they don't block your view of the lower growers.

Best wishes with your garden.

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