Answer: Ferns and hostas are shade garden standbys but there are others to choose from:
Some of the hardy geraniums are good for shade. There is Geranium phaeum and its many varieties for spring flowers, G. pratense for summer and G. procurrens for fall bloom.
Violets, Primula, Bergenia, Brunnera (giant forget-me-not), Dicentra (bleeding heart), Pulmonaria (lungwort), Epimedium and London Pride bring spring flowers. All of these perennials are available in several forms that offer variations in flower and foliage coloring.
There are perennial foxgloves in yellow, pink and apricot for early summer bloom. Lady's mantle (Alchemilla mollis) forms highly attractive mounds of serrated, pleated leaves and sprays of greenish yellow flowers that are excellent in fresh cut and dried arrangements. Corydalis lutea, a ferny bleeding heart type perennial, gives yellow flowers all summer.
A pretty ground cover for shade is dead nettle (Lamium), which is available in a variety of different foliage variegations and flower colors. Flowering is from late spring through the summer. Christmas rose and Lenten rose (Helleborus) bring big buttercup-like flowers in winter to early spring, the Christmas rose in white and the Lenten rose in deep plum.
Mainstays of a shaded perennial garden are the feathery astilbes and glamorous-leaved hostas. Both are available in miniature to giant size, and in a wide choice of colors.
While the perennials in a new bed are young and small, plant the spaces between them with summer fill-ins -- pansies, impatiens, monkey flower (Mimulus), coleus and begonias. An attractive floral cascade effect could easily be achieved in several spots by setting trailing hanging basket type fuchsias, in their containers, on upended pots to elevate the fuchsias off the ground.
Enjoy your shade garden!
Q&A Library Searching Tips