Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Coastal and Tropical South
April, 2005
Regional Report

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Sunlight plays over ferns in a shady garden.

Southern Shaders

Many gardens in our region offer shady nooks, or their gardeners wish they did. That's why the first thing most people plant at a newly built home is a shade tree. However we get it, we love our shade and make the most of it.

Any Type of Shade
Whether shade is dense all day or dappled as the sun moves over an area, its primary quality in the landscape is its cooling effect. Perhaps the kindest sort is that created by buildings or trees to the west of your garden because it softens the afternoon sun's heat as well as its light. Some gardens have naturally shady nooks or north sides that get only a few hours of direct sun. Put a table and chairs there, a bench, or a swing, to take advantage of both shade and a passing breeze.

Creating Shade
Planting one big shade tree is great, but a clump of smaller trees make a more interesting focal point. Combine evergreens and a flowering tree, such as crape myrtle, to create year-round seasonal changes to the view.

Architectural pieces, including trellises, columns, and pergolas, play several roles in garden design. They lead the eye upward and define space dramatically, giving you something to look at that can inspire you emotionally. They hold plants at least part of the year that can create a shady retreat wherever you put them. They may provide shade themselves, even without any plants.

Plants Choices
A tree canopy provides good light but no direct sun, and most flowering shrubs and perennials thrive in these conditions, from hydrangeas and oleanders to phlox and iris. Low light is a different condition, created by buildings or dense canopies that block the sun's rays all day. Go for different shades of green and texture contrasts when choosing plants for low light. And in sites that are sunny part of the day and shady the rest, select those that tolerate a half day of sun, like roses, spirea, and oleander.

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