If you are lucky enough to have beautiful old trees on your property no doubt you are thankful for the shade, but have often longed for a more vibrant garden. It is a common desire that our clients bring to us. Our designers know that an exceptional landscape can be achieved by using different textured and colored perennial plants to create a beautiful outdoor space.
- Textures – wide leaves, narrow leaves, small leaves; we place plants with different types of foliage next to each other for interesting contrast.
- Colors – leaf colors can be outstanding in shade perennials.
- Groupings – we plant perennials in groups so that their outstanding features stand out.
Shade Loving Perennials
Hostas are well known for their attractive shade-loving foliage and low maintenance qualities. There are so many varieties available with large leaves, small leaves, wide leaves, narrow leaves, solid green, different shades of solid blue, bright chartreuse leaves, and variegated. The flowers are enjoyed in some gardens, but are easily pruned out is you prefer. For maximum impact, plant them in groups.
Brunnera is a great hosta substitute for a site with lots of deer traffic or mixed in with hostas for color and texture. Like other plants, brunnera has, over time, adapted to protect itself with fine, short hairs or soft down on the leaves and stems making them undesirable to deer and rabbits. It is a spring flowering perennial with green to silvery leaves. Its flowers are light blue and resemble forget-me-nots.
Bleeding Hearts are low, delicate shade perennials with blooms that appear in early spring with attention getting, heart shaped flowers on arching stems. Attractive bluish green foliage emerges first and flowers of the bleeding heart may be pink or white. The foliage of these shade perennials is feathery and very pretty and creates movement with the slightest breeze. Once the heat of summer arrives, it will die back to the ground until next spring.
Japanese Forest Grass
Japanese Forest Grass is a graceful, colorful grass for shady areas. Slender stems hold bright golden-yellow foliage having the effect of a tiny bamboo. Great in containers or color accent in borders. This is a grass that does well in the shade and most of the time, deer leave them alone. Note that there are varieties with different colored foliage.
Lamium or Spotted Dead Nettle is a lovely perennial groundcover with silvery foliage to brighten up a shady area. Flower colors range from white to pink to purple.
Liriope is a low, grass-like plant which is very hardy. It will bloom in the summer with purple, spiked flowers. It is also available with white flowers. We like this plant a lot.
Astilbe is an old shade stand by. The flowers are showier than a lot of the others so you might consider adding a few of these. It comes in many sizes and flower colors.
Epimedium is a perfect example of how to add color without blossoming plants. The heart-shaped leaves of this ground cover offer a nice color interest for most of the season.
More Shade Perennials
- Goats beard
- Coral bells
- Cardinal Flower
The list goes on! Just make sure it is the right plant for the soil and water conditions before planting.
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