Aah, shade. I find its darkness intriguing and its coolness comforting. It’s a great place to slumber on a hot summer day. People often complain about shady areas in the landscape, but I know there are other shade lovers out there.
I love shade! It has a purpose and I find it useful. It’s quite nice relaxing in the shade. It can actually become an attractive space with a little work. And working in the shade garden makes things like weeding, deadheading, pruning, watering etc. far more pleasant. So why do so many gardeners dislike shade?
Perhaps, it is the difficulty in finding plants that thrive in its dark corners. Yet, there are so many suitable candidates for filling this task.
Plants That Like Shade
There are foliage plants that brighten up even the darkest of spaces – hosta, heuchera, ferns (Japanese painted fern is a must have), caladiums and coleus. There’s moss (yes, it’s beautiful too) and other groundcovers like lily-of-the-valley and ajuga (try the purple-tinged variety).
You’ll find more flowering plants than you’d dream possible for shady areas. Wild violets are always welcome. Some of my favorite shade lovers include begonia, calla lily, foamflower, toad lily, foxglove, and daylily. You heard me right, daylily! A number of daylilies can light up those shady areas in the landscape. Many of mine grow in partial shade and do just fine.
Don’t forget the backbone of any garden space – shrubs and trees. There are shade lovers to be found for this too. Azalea, hydrangea, and flowering dogwood to name a few. Japanese maple thrives is low light and has attractive foliage; again, I’m partial to the purplish hues which look great when set off by various gold-foliaged plants, like golden privet (Ligustrum) or Japanese forest grass.
I could go on and on with the plants that like shade, but then we’d be here all day.
Wild about Shade
And it’s not just plants that like shade… the wildlife critters enjoy it just as much. Remember, if it’s hot outside for you, it’s hot for them. Be considerate and carve out a space in the shade just for wildlife with access to water amongst the sheltering foliage. They’ll thank you with plenty of entertainment. I love sitting on the bench beneath the shade trees watching my wildlife critters go about their daily life. Toady can normally be seen early in the morning or evening hours. He has a toad house in the shade garden where he naps by day, burrowing into the cool, moist earth. I talk to him often (don’t judge!).
Then there’s my squirrelly friends who never fail to make me laugh as they scavenge for food and perform acrobatic moves trying to get birdseed. Speaking of which, the birds are always around and quite entertaining too, especially when they’re courting…or even when our mischievous mockingbird swoops down or chases others, including the dog. She’s also wild about shade. Sorry, but there’s nowhere better to enjoy this than in the shade. Far too hot here, and I’m sure both the plants and animals would agree.
So why on earth do so many gardeners dislike shade?