shade garden - Knowledgebase Question

duluth, Mi
Question by rdarling41
April 5, 2010
My garden is very shady and the soil is not real good. How should I proceed?

Answer from NGA
April 5, 2010


You can enrich your soil over a period of years and end up with rich garden loam if you add organic matter. Start this spring by removing all vegetation from the area and spreading 4-5 inches of organic matter over the bed. You can use compost, aged manure (fresh manure can be too hot and might contain weed seeds), shredded leaves or whatever organic matter is readily available in your local area. Dig or till this organic matter into the soil - 8-10 inches deep. Plant, then mulch over the bare soil between the plants with additional organic matter. A 2-3 inch layer will help suppress weeds and slow water evaporation. At the end of the season dig the organic matter into the soil and add a fresh layer. Repeat this process annually and you'll end up with rich garden loam - and a spectacular garden.

Some great perennials for shade include Aegopodium p. 'Variegatum' (Bishop's Weed) which provides a dense carpet of green and white foliage; Ajuga varieties (Carpet Bugles): a low carpet of leaves, blue flower spikes; Asarum europeaum (European Wild Ginger) with polished, emerald-green leaves; Astilbe which has fluffy flower plumes and ferny leaves; Campanula carpatica (Carpathian Bellflower) has large blue saucer flowers, grows in low mounds; Carex morrowi 'Augeo-Variegata' Mounds of evergreen, yellow-striped leaves; Chrysogonum virginianum (Goldenstar) Long blooming with starry yellow flowers ; Convallaria majalis (Lily of the Valley) White, scented flowers; Dicentra spectabilis (Bleeding Hearts) Arches of heart-shaped flowers; Dicentra x 'Luxurient' (Bleeding Hearts) Low ferny carpet, cherry red flowers; Digitalis (Foxgloves) Tall spikes of spotted flowers; Doronicum cordatum (Leopard's Bane) Clean, yellow daisy flowers; Epimedium X rubrum Red-veined/margined leaves, red flowers; Hardy Ferns of all sorts A great diversity of leaf color and height; Galium odoratum (Sweet Woodruff) Carpets of cartwheel leaves, white flowers; Helleborus orientalis (Hellebore) Large, nodding flowers in early spring; Hosta 'August Moon' Crisp mound of bright yellow leaves; Hosta sieboldiana 'Frances Williams' Huge blue leaves edged in yellow; Hosta undulata 'Variegata' Clumps of wavy green and white leaves; Lamiastrum 'Herman's Pride' Creeping carpet of silver-veined leaves; Lamium maculatum varieties Carpets of white or white striped leaves; Ligularia dentata 'Desdemona' Tall purple-leaved clump, orange flowers; Lysimachia nummularia 'Aurea' Creeping mat of bright yellow leaves; Mentha requienii (Corsican mint) Strongly scented flat green mat. Self-seeds; Myosotis varieties (Forget-Me-Nots) Mists of small blue, yellow-eyed flowers; Primula X 'Wanda' Low mats smothered in magenta flowers; Pulmonaria varieties Mounds of silvery leaves, blue flowers. Hope these suggestions are helpful.

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