I had planned to do a post this week on planting tomatoes. Our plants have been outside as much as possible this week and ready to go into their permanent home. Alas, the weather is, once again, not cooperating. Despite weather reports to the contrary, it has been pouring rain on and off all week-end. And they are calling for thunder showers tonight, so our tender plants are probably better indoors for one more day.
So what better to talk about on a dark and rainy week-end than shade gardening?
With our backyard backing onto a forest, several trees on our property, and a North-facing house, we have plenty of opportunities for shade gardening. There are a wide variety of flowering plants and bushes you can plant that thrive in shady gardens.
When planning our vegetable gardens we tried to choose spots that received the most sun, as most vegetable plants need an optimal amount of sun to grow and ripen fruit.
But we have one corner of our big garden that never seems to get enough, and no matter what we plant there, things just don’t grow.
So I’ve been doing research on shade gardening and discovered that there are some vegetables that can be grown in the shade! (Experienced gardeners are probably laughing at me, but I really did think that all veggies required full sun to grow.) I must mention that in all the sources I researched, it is important that the garden receive some sunlight throughout the day. None of these plants will do well is there is no sun at all. But if you have a patch with a few hours of sun, and shade the rest of the day, these might be good options!
In our shady corner we have planted: peas, bush beans, spinach, parsley, sorrel, and lettuces. It’s a bit of an experiment to see what will grow best. I’ll keep you posted on how well they do throughout the season!
Other plants that may grow in shady patches include:
arugula, cabbage, broccoli, swiss chard, kale, mustard greens, chives, onions, mint (grow it in a pot!), blackberry, currants, gooseberry and strawberries.
When it comes to non-edible gardens, there are lots of choices both for full and partial shade. Here are some of my favourites from my garden:
Hostas (They come in a HUGE variety of types, have beautiful leaves and they flower. The one downfall, they are a favourite moonlight snack for deer.)
Astilbe (Definitely my absolute favourite flowering shade plant. The clusters of tiny blossoms are absolutely gorgeous.)
Forget-Me-Not (One of my favourite flowers. I have them in blue and white. They will grow just about anywhere, and some might say they grow like a weed as once you have them, they will pop up in unexpected places in your gardens.)
Ferns (this is a HUGE group of plants, but as they tend to grow on the forest floor, they are well-suited to shade gardens. Most garden centers stock several varieties.)
Lilacs (These bushes have beautiful strongly-scented blossoms in the spring. Some varieties grow as big as trees, make sure you have lots of space!)
Red Twig Dogwood (We have two of these in our garden. They have pretty green foliage all season and bright red stems all winter. Unfortunately they have been a target for caterpillars in our garden.)
I am not a big annual planter myself, but I benefit from the green thumb of my mother-in-law who passes on her extra plants to me! Over the years I have planted: Begonia, Impatiens, Fuschia, and Salvia in my shade gardens.
This is, of course, by no means an exhaustive list. I picked up a brochure from our local garden center that lists at least 100 plants of all kinds for deep shade and partially shaded gardens. Too many to list here. So instead, here are some web links you might find helpful if you are planning a shady garden:
The best thing to do, of course, is to wander around your local gardening centre and see what they have available for shade gardens. Even better if you visit a nursery where they grow the plants themselves, usually the staff there are knowledgeable about many types of gardens and plants.
Do you have any tips for shade gardening or favourite shade-loving plants? Please share them in the comments.
Don’t forget to visit our Facebook page and post your pictures, link to your garden-related blog posts, ask your gardening questions, or just stop in to say hi! This week I posted an album documenting our seed planting, and will post pics when we get our tomatoes planted (if the rain ever stops, that is!)