Friday, June 14, 2013

beauty in the shade garden.

as i have written here before, our garden  recieves mostly northern exposure which leaves us with part sun in some areas of our garden and very shady conditions in others.
but i have come to really appreciate the many beautiful specimens that prefer low light.

i love  silver, grey, purples and blue-green hues in the garden. i am also attracted to plants with interesting leaf shapes and patterns with variegation and texture. i don't believe a plant needs to have a fancy flower to be beautiful. i thought i might share just a few of my favorite plants whose leaves bring beauty to the shady spots in my garden. there are so many more that i will save for another post.

 one of my favorite shade loving ground covers is strawberry begonia. mostly known as a houseplant, this little beauty does best outdoors and loves spreading it's roots in shady conditions. it spreads rapidly but is not invasive as it is shallow rooted and easy to dig up. i transplanted a very small amount of these from my mothers garden last summer and they are spreading beautifully in the garden and in the cracks of our rock walls. i also have it growing in pots, planters and in my window boxes as well as in the living roof atop the bunny hutch. i recently found out that strawberry begonias are a japanese delicacy and are also used for medicinal purposes. extracts from the plant are promised to reduce wrinkles and improve the skin. i may have to look more into that! overall i just love it's little scalloped, variegated leaves and dainty white flowers. a must have in the shade garden! DSC_1395
the velvety grey leaves of the stachys plants are a stunning addition to any garden adding texture and character. they spread rapidly, making them effective ground covers and are drought tolerant and also deer resistant. you can't help but want to reach out and touch this tempting plant. i often find my girls and their neighbor friends stooping down to stroke it's soft leaves also know as "lambs ears".

 i know i have raved about lacianato kale here before but i can't stress enough how beautiful this plant is. i love it's bumpy "dinosaur" textured leaf and it's majestic presence in the garden. and what's even better is it's edible and yes it grows in part shade! once you grow lacianato also known as tuscan kale
you may not want to grow any other variety. it is resilient and a very productive plant for the small garden and can reach up to three feet tall. it produces all summer long well into the winter months. i have harvested kale with snow on the ground and it just gets sweeter. grow this in your garden. you won't be sorry.  
ligularia is another favorite of mine which makes a big statement in the garden with it's dark bold  leaves and deep purple veins and stems. i also have a purple leaved variety which is stunning. it does put out a pretty little spike of a yellow flower but i love the leathery almost heart shaped leaf even more. it does prefer a deep, rich, moist soil and is deer resistant. it is a nice contrast in the garden. DSC_1399
if you are thinking of planting a hydrandea in your garden i can not recommend enough the oakleaf hydrangea. not only does it produce a beautiful cluster of creamy white flowers but the leaves of this shrub resemble very much a large oak leaf with silvery white undersides. hydrangea quercifolia turns a bronzy purple in autumn with dried flower heads. it does well in deep shade and makes a lovely cut flower.
DSC_1404 these are just a few. stay tuned for more favorites. i would love to hear some of yours.

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