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lunaria annua

On 24, Oct 2016 | No Comments | In plants, shade | By All Year Garden

Speaking of plants for shade, this one kind of is, if you want to call shade the sunlight dappled through a rare tree canopy. Honesty is a biennial plant, but much like the long lasting hollyhocks, it reseeds enough to maintain its presence in the same spot for many years.
I never planted this flower in full sun, so I don’t know how it would behave there, but it performs reliably in part shade and on the north side of the garden. This one is white, but the plant comes in white and purple, like most wild flowers do. Read more…


When you had a perennial garden for many years you’d think there can’t be many plants you haven’t tried but that is not true. New varieties appear every year, better adapted to your growing conditions than their uncooperative kin, more fragrant blooming plants for the shade, more cottage perennial cultivars to substitute those you previously thought too demanding. Read more…

fall hostas

On 28, Sep 2015 | No Comments | In plants, shade | By All Year Garden

The hostas bloomed like never before this year, in my garden and everywhere else, proving to unenthusiastic gardeners how stunning they can really be. Read more…

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Create a perennial shade garden for zone 5

On 29, Mar 2012 | No Comments | In shade | By All Year Garden

Shade is not created equal. Most plants recommended for full shade usually don’t like at least three of the six types described in this article. Plants recommended for part shade will most likely thrive only in the last two. Full sun plants can be very happy in dappled shade if they bloom before May or after October. Read more…

late fall bloomers

On 13, Oct 2011 | No Comments | In shade | By All Year Garden

No, this is not an orchid. I kind of abandoned the expectation to see any flowers on this plant since it didn’t bloom last year and I moved it to an even shadier location in spring. I have to say that the wait was worth it: can you believe this flower? Read more…

fringed bleeding heart

On 17, May 2011 | No Comments | In shade | By All Year Garden

A friend and fellow gardener gave me these fringed bleeding heart seeds which I sprinkled over the shady flower bed in the back yard at the end of fall. Next spring I got the wonderful surprise to see these new plants growing.

The fringed bleeding heart is a native of the Appalachian mountains, and it likes rich moist soils in woodland shade. It can do well in full sun if the soil is not getting too dry.

An unpretentious perennial, the fringed bleeding heart doesn’t grow very tall, only 1 or 2 feet, but it is a reliable and long blooming plant that dons pink flowers from June to the end of October. As you can see here, mine bloomed early. It doesn’t die back in mid summer like its noble cousin, and the fringed airy leaves create nice contrast and texture in the garden long into the fall.

It spreads quite easily and it doesn’t mind being moved. There is also a white variety, but it is less often encountered.

This plant does really well in zones 4 through 9

hepatica for woodland shade

On 31, Mar 2011 | 11 Comments | In shade | By All Year Garden

One of the harbingers of spring, the delicate and not so familiar hepatica is a wonderful addition to the woodland garden. It naturally grows in the forest, but will adjust nicely to any shady area with rich moist humus. It comes in blue, white and pink and it is one of the earliest blooming flowers, out there with the crocuses and the snow drops.

If it finds a good location it will happily spread and create clumps of pretty flowers with bright yellow stamens. The petals are not really petals, but modified sepals. Flowers appear on green hairy stems with a basal rosette of heart shaped leaves.

Some varieties’ purplish-pink leaves vague resemblance to liver explains the name of the plant, although in the old days it was also used medicinally for affections of this organ. It is poisonous ingested in large quantities and it is not a liver tonic after all, but a mild diuretic and soothing for slow healing wounds. Don’t try this at home, there are well tested and safe ways to deal with these afflictions that don’t run the risk of poisoning or allergic reactions.

It is a beautiful plant, slightly scented, and it blooms very early in the shade or in full sun, that should be enough.


On 13, Mar 2011 | No Comments | In shade | By All Year Garden

I guess this means it is officially spring. I knew hellebores bloomed early, but I didn’t expect to see this when I looked out in the back yard today.

I love lenten roses, they are wonderfully reliable blooming plants for a shady woodland area. They are supposed to thrive in rich and moist humus soil, but this one is growing in shallow hard clay that has not been watered since last fall.

It is very easy to propagate hellebores from seed, but much like peonies, you will have to wait for two or three years to see flowers. They lend themselves well to crossing and creating new cultivars.


fruits of the forest

On 01, Sep 2010 | No Comments | In shade | By All Year Garden

Soft, mushy and colorful, mushrooms embellish deeply shaded areas of the forest with their little umbrella caps. Whether they are edible or not, the forest would not be as fragrant without them. After a rainy night they pop out of nowhere, easing off from under tree bark and green growies, slightly humid with dew and smelling like fresh humus.

If you happen to know your edible mushrooms, a trip to the forest after the rain can provide a tasty treat, however one should leave the recognizing of mushrooms to the pros, since very similar looking fungi can be poisonous.

The kids were all excited about looking for mushrooms and photographing them, and here is the picture to prove it. We found this little lady on a trail in the Smokey Mountains.

the heralds of fall

On 17, Aug 2010 | No Comments | In shade | By All Year Garden

Sedums will keep your garden vibrant and colorful from the onset of fall late in august until and after the first snow falls. They start out light green and slowly change color to the lightest pink that deepens to a dull rust before they go to seed.

Sedums like full sun, but will do very well in the shade. I have several clumps in complete shade and they are blooming faithfully. Once established they don’t require even the most basic care. They will make do with whatever food and water nature offers that year.

Sedums will need dividing every few years. If the plant starts growing only around the sides and hollow in the middle, it is time to dig it out, divide the root ball in two or more pieces with a spade and replant the separated clumps.

Sedum shoots are very tender. If afflicted by heavy hail, being crushed or stepped on, the plant will not regenerate itself or bloom that year.