For the Shade Garden

Plants at home in shady or partially shady areas of the garden.

southgate-rhododendronYou can read about our interest in Southgate rhododendrons over here. The brief story is rhododendrons at lower elevations are not protected from the various problems that bedevil gardeners in the deep South who wish to grow rhododendrons successfully. (See the admittedly presumptuously titled 'Your Rhododendron Has Died. An Explanation' for more information as to the reasons behind the problems.)

In our third year of testing, so far the Southgate rhododendrons have done swell both in the pot and in the ground. The attached photo is one of this year's blooms. Each shrub is absolutely packed with flowers. Southgate rhododendrons thus far are highly recommended.

See also: Native PlantsHerbaceous Perennials
Hoary skullcap (Scutellaria incana) is also known as downy skullcap. It a native perennial widely adaptable in the garden. Hoary skullcap is almost always specified as being a sun-loving plant, yet I have seen it flowering beautifully in one of the most challenging garden scenarios possible: heavy shade with dry soil.

hoary skullcap - native plants

Scutellaria incana - hoary skullcap - native perennial gardening. Click for larger.

Hoary skullcap has a relatively long bloom period and is a superb addition to cottage gardens, prairie gardens, and meadows or wildflower gardens.

Continue reading ‘Scutellaria incana – Hoary Skullcap’

See also: Native PlantsHerbaceous Perennials
Known as indian pink or indian pinkroot, Spigelia marilandica is a somewhat rare native perennial of great ecological and aesthetic value. Indian pink is attractive to hummingbirds and is a long-flowering herbaceous perennial that will grow in the shade garden.

indian pinkroot, indian pink

Indian pink - Spigelia marilandica

Indian pink is native to a large portion of the southeastern United States. I've seen Spigelia marilandica growing and flowering happily in the garden in heavy shade, and it is beautiful at the edge of woodland areas where morning sun or filtered light brings out the best in the maroon-red flowers.

Continue reading ‘Indian Pink – Spigelia marilandica’

See also: Herbaceous Perennials
Lamprocapnos spectabilis 'Alba', white bleeding heart, is similar to the pink-flowered version of bleeding heart we are all so familiar with. White bleeding heart is easily grown in shadier gardens with moist soil. Heat and dry soil will force bleeding heart into the dormancy that is a normal occurrence once summer comes.

Bleeding heart 'Alba' can be grown in heavy shade, but will easily tolerate morning sun.

perennial bleeding heart

Lamprocapnos spectabilis 'Alba' - white bleeding heart. Click for larger.

White bleeding heart grows to a couple of feet tall and is gracefully airy planted among azaleas, ferns, and shade perennials. Bleeding heart is winter hardy USDA zones 3-9.

Continue reading ‘White Bleeding Heart’

See also: Herbaceous Perennials
I included Bletilla striata (hardy orchid, Chinese ground orchid) in Landscape of Us for those who might enjoy growing an orchid in their gardens. Bletilla striata is a bona fide orchid, a dues-paying member of the Orchidaceae family. Bletilla striata is generally recognized as being one of the first orchids grown in cultivation in England.

Bletilla striata is native to China, Japan, and Tibet.

Bletilla striata - Chinese ground orchid

Bletilla striata is an orchid that can be grown in the garden. Click for larger.

Admittedly, the photographs here make Bletilla striata's flowers look huge. They are not huge, maybe 1"-1 1/2". They do look like small Cattelya orchid flowers. The color of the hardy orchid's flowers is spectacular, ranging from lavender to pink to vivid purple depending on the light. Hardy orchid blooms in April and May, and the photographs included here have caught Bletilla striata nearing the end of this season's flowering.

Continue reading ‘Bletilla striata – Hardy Orchid’

See also: Native PlantsHerbaceous Perennials
I was introduced to the long-flowering native perennial for the shade Chrysogonum virginianum (green and gold) by the dean of landscape architecture at UGA during my undergraduate years, Darrell Morrison*. He was ahead of his time in his regard for native plants, and he really liked green and gold.

green and gold

Long-flowering shade perennial Chrysogonum virginianum (green and gold) is native.

Green and gold is a reliable mat-forming perennial native to the eastern United States. The cultivar photographed here is green and gold 'Pierre', said to have larger flowers than the species.

Continue reading ‘Green and Gold – Chrysogonum virginianum’

See also: Herbaceous Perennials
Hakonechloa macra Aureola (Hakone grass or Japanese forest grass) is spoken of in hushed tones by many gardeners, such is the respect for this slow-growing and ethereal grass native to Japan.

Hakonechloa macra is the only species in the genus Hakonechloa. It is a monocot.

Hakone grass

Hakonechloa macra Aureola - Japanese forest grass. Click for larger.

Hakonechloa macra Aureola grows beautifully in deep shade, with a rich golden tone* that brings vivid color to the normally subdued green hues of the shade garden. Japanese forest grass also grows exceedingly slow. It is somewhat of a connoisseur's plant rarely seen in gardens. I suspect these qualities lead to the somewhat mystical relationships gardeners build with Hakonechloa macra Aureola.

Continue reading ‘Hakonechloa macra Aureola’

See also: Native PlantsHerbaceous Perennials
Arisaema triphyllum (jack-in-the-pulpit) is a classic native perennial of North America. It is a solid choice for gardeners who seek native plants and have a shady garden. Jack-in-the-pulpit needs shade and at least better than average moisture in the soil.

Whether they are children or grizzled old gardeners, Arisaema triphyllum will get the attention of anyone who passes it in your garden. It's special and people instinctively know it.

Jack-in-the-pulpit. Native perennial for the shade.

Jack-in-the-pulpit. Native perennial for the shade.

Once established, do not disturb jack-in-the-pulpit. Let it slowly multiply to form a colony in the most natural woodland setting you can muster. Arisaema triphyllum goes summer-dormant. Similar to trilliums, the leaves will disappear as summer rolls on. Do not be concerned.

Continue reading ‘Arisaema triphyllum – Jack-in-the-Pulpit’

See also: Herbaceous Perennials
I see lots of big hostas in the landscape. My own weakness is Sum and Substance hosta. The challenge for many gardeners is using hosta effectively in garden design.

Hosta lovers tend to be collectors. In their gardens are a lot of different hosta. "Where's a good spot for this one?" is a question most often asked. The secret in designing beautiful gardens around hostas lies is maximizing the opportunities to design with texture. Your supporting cast is crucial should you proceed.

sum and substance in the garden

Tons of textures and colors surround this Sum and Substance hosta. Click for larger.

Continue reading ‘Sum and Substance Hosta: Garden Design’

See also: Herbaceous Perennials
Bleeding heart (Lamprocapnos spectabilis) is one of the most photogenic garden perennials, I'll grant you that. It is an easy to grow perennial that has been grown in American gardens for decades.

It is not hard to see how bleeding heart got its name. Bleeding heart seems like a plant my grandmother might have grown in her perennial garden (had she been a gardener). Bleeding heart is a plant young people and elderly people seem to especially love, and what does that say about the middle-aged gardeners among us?

Bleeding Heart

Bleeding heart flower detail gives insight into the origin of the common name. Click for larger.

Bleeding heart does best in shady spots, with some morning sun being nice. It will tolerate heavy shade.  What you want to watch out for is dry shade and persistently wet soils in winter. Neither works for bleeding heart.

Continue reading ‘Bleeding Heart – Lamprocapnos spectabilis’