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August 09, 2007


Marie (fna Piana Nanna)

How about a nice ground cover? Some of them , like ajuga, have beautiful purple/blue flowers. Or maybe a nice pachysandra. That always looks nice growing under bushes and shrubs and I love the green color of the leaves. I often think that as gardeners we always want flowers with color but sometimes foliage is just right.


How about some Hostas or Heucheras?


I would go for the hostas. There are so many varieties that you can come up with some fabulous texture and color combos. Trillium and Bunchberry would probably do pretty well in the front, as well, and they look really good with a backdrop of hostas. My front bed is almost complete shade all day, and I have had good luck with these as well as merrybells and bleeding heart.

Good luck?


I meant:

Good luck!


Maybe astilbe? I've got some in my front garden in poor soil, with partial sun and they have done well. Astilbe looks great with hosta, too, as does heucheras. And I love the trillium idea, what about bearberry?


Try heuchera. There are so many fabulous kinds now!! I'm becoming obsessed with them. The creeping jenny should work--I am shocked that won't grow.

Also, some variegated ginger--I would try soe textures of largely foliage plants, rather than go in too heavily for blooms.


Hey, you posted this problem area before with a plea for help! I very unhelpfully (as a non-gardener) said to change its light by cutting back some of the things that shade it or adding 100% shade. I still think you should start all over. What about new soil? Maybe there's something bad there from ancient construction days or children of previous owners. If all else fails go for a rock garden with various lichens. - from the blissfully ignorant.


Your bed gets about the same amount of sun as my front bed. I've had good luck with hosta, bleeding heart, astilbe, columbine and lungwort. To my surprise foxglove also does well, with the plants that get a bit more sun growing taller. My ferns do well until mid August when they start to die back. Stella d'oro lilies do so-so. With only 4 hours of sunlight I'd treat it as a shade garden. Good luck!


I have a similar space - not quite as much afternoon sun, but if daylilies aren't cutting it, shade plants seem to be in order. I've done: hosta (some do better with a little sun), Solomon's Seal, false Solomon's seal, lungwort, geraniums, bleeding heart, coral bells, lady's mantle, astilbe, cimicifuga, Jacob's ladder, brunnera, etc. You won't get a lot of color this way, but you can find leaf texture and color to add interest.


Hosta seems like giving up, but sometimes it is the best and easiest solution. We got a problem area under some Norwegian Pines. Those suckers will steal the moisture from anything we try to grow under it except catnip. Very tricky indeed! I am tempted to turn the whole area into a fancy mint patch... perfect for making tea for holiday gifts.

I know you said partial shade, but perhaps a rock garden with some succulents? Some varieties can stand partial shade and need very little water. Succlents also have interesting blooms. Plus, some sedum adds "winter interest" to your garden.


Thanks for the ideas, everyone! This is why love blogging - I can tap into a community that knows far more than I do! You've given me lots of different plants to think about. As a few of you mentioned, I'll have to start thinking about this area as part to full shade. What I'll probably do is take everyone's ideas and use them this winter to draw up a plant list, and then we'll have another go at it.


I would renovate the garden in parts and amend the soil with lots more organic material to retain moisture. Many plants will do well with shade when they are kept moist.


I would say it's more of a moisture problem. My very first garden bed was under a cedar tree that provided heavy shade, so I planted shade loving plants with visions of a lush bed of green. It took me more than 10 years to figure out the problem was moisture, or lack of it. Any amount of water was being sucked up by the cedar, other plants couldn't compete. You might have better luck creating a container garden, the roots wouldn't have to compete and you could change it on a whim:)


under the pines the soil will be acidic, try blue berries or other acid loveing plants


If you think about coniferous forests in nature, not much grows in the understory--which is what I would classify the area you've pictured. Here are few plants you might try suited to this environment: low bush blueberry (as previously suggested), blue bead lily, wintergreen, bunchberry (previously suggested), canada mayflower, starflower, bellwort, baneberry, aster and ferns.

Best to work with what you have, rather than fight it. Even if you were to prune the conifers, they will fill back in. Also, as much as you amend the soil, its basic acidic properties will probably persist. And since conifers are shallow rooted, any plant you choose that can handle shade will need frequent watering. A good layer of mulch over soil that is 40% compost will keep any shade plant happy.

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