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GardenSMART Episode

Show #21/4808. Plants For Shade

Summary of Show

Discuss From Top, Down
They start from the TOP, DOWN and talk about trees and shrubs that Jim really likes that perform well in the shade. In this area they have big oaks that are limbed up which allows some dappled light to come in. And, there are hickories that are limbed up high. Under that one finds the understory trees such as dogwoods, for example the Cornus Florida and the Cornus Kousa. One blooms earlier, one blooms later.
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Do Some Research Regarding Shade Plants
Keep in mind as we talk through all of these plants that as gardeners and especially if we are looking at a new environment - shade or something we are not familiar with, first DO SOME RESEARCH, get some good books, even talk to some professionals at a retail garden center, educate yourself, look at the books. The books are always divided into three areas - a shade area for shade gardeners, sun for sun gardeners, semi-shade and sun for those other spaces.
For More Information Click Here

Shade Plants For Water Gardens
For those of us that have WATER GARDENS there are certain plants that work well in the shade. Jim thinks that for a water garden when selecting a plant right next to the water choose a plant with a vertical accent because you have a horizontal pond and if you can use the vertical accent the reflection is nice in the water. So if we go with something like arrowheads, for example, they show up well, they are big leafed and they reflect great.
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Plants For A Woodland Shade Garden
Throughout these gardens the paths move between sun gardens to this high WOODLAND SHADE GARDEN. And Jim's plant collections are outstanding. Eric would like to talk about some of the plants in this high woodland shade environment that work really well. In this high woodland shade area we are standing on a walkway between Solomon seal which has variegated leaves with the arched stem and white flowers in the spring.
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White Garden
We next visit the WHITE GARDEN. Eric thinks white gardens are particularly elegant and are wonderful for shade. There are a lot of plant options too. Women especially love green and white gardens. The reason is when you think of weddings you think of green and white plus at night white shows up better than any other color.
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Ferns
Eric has so many fond memories from childhood of exploring in the woods behind the house and coming over a ridge and down there you would see this enormous outcropping of FERNS. This area really transports one to a different place. There is something that has always been magical about these large dells of ferns. And, and as a garden plant it is hard to find something for shade that is more elegant, that is more lush, and that is more beautiful. Jim agrees, ferns take you back to childhood. He finds that everybody that comes to Gibbs Gardens loves ferns. One reason is you have so many, many varieties of ferns.
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Ferns For Sunnier Areas
There are a few ferns that will work, not necessarily, in full sun but in SUNNIER AREAS. What are some that Jim would recommend? Probably the three best ferns for sun are going to be Autumn Fern, it will take a lot of sun and has beautiful new growth in the spring of the year. Another fern is Southern Shield Fern. It will grow in full sun.
For More Information Click Here

Growing Conditions For Ferns
And ferns, for the most part, are pretty easy to grow. But we do need to keep in mind the CORRECT GROWING CONDITIONS. If you have a compacted, shady area that is full of tree roots and there is not enough compost or not enough moisture then ferns are going struggle. But basically we need an area that is compost rich along with plenty of moisture.
For More Information Click Here

Ground Cover Plants
GARDEN GROUND COVERS are a very important part of the foundation of any garden. Especially as we look at smaller spaces where we want to add a lot of interest. There are many different, really neat colors and textures that can be added to the garden through ground covers. The guys are standing in a very small area with two small ponds. In this area Jim wanted to make sure to keep the scale relevant to the surrounding area. Thus went with almost totally ground cover plants.
For More Information Click Here

Shade Plants For A Japanese Garden
Eric feels we can't come to Gibbs Gardens without visiting the JAPANESE GARDEN. It is an iconic place and the cornerstone of Gibbs Garden, Jim has gone to great pains to pick plants that very specifically give this garden its personality. There is also a lot of shade here and Eric would like for Jim to talk specifically about the plants that he selected for the shady parts of the
Japanese garden.
For More Information Click Here

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Show #21/4808. Plants For Shade

Transcript of Show

There are so many amazing things that we can do in a shade garden. In this GardenSMART Episode we discuss plants for shade as well as some great tips to ensure success in your own shade garden.

Most gardens we visit have a balance of sun and shade environments which allow them to show off a wide variety of plants that perform well in those specific parts of the garden. While shade may provide some challenges there are thousands of plants that love the shade and thrive there. Many of the most exciting new selections available on the market are designed for shade and introduce a new and amazing range of foliage colors and showy flowers. In this Episode we stroll through a series of different shade gardens discussing plant selections and their care. We are joined by renowned horticulturalist Jim Gibbs who will share a lifetime of learning and knowledge about shade gardening. Jim broke ground on Gibbs Gardens almost forty years ago and it has been the primary canvas of his incredible creativity. His woodland gardens are world class and provide an amazing opportunity to explore the ever changing world of gardening in the shade.

Eric welcomes Jim back to GardenSMART and thanks him for joining us. Jim thanks Eric and says it is his pleasure, thanks for the invitation. In this show we are going to tackle the topic of shade gardening and hopefully show our viewers that there are so many amazing options. There is a lot that we can do so that we don't have to give up on wonderful color and great structure in the garden just because we are in the shade. They start from the TOP, DOWN and talk about trees and shrubs that Jim really likes that perform well in the shade. In this area they have big oaks that are limbed up which allows some dappled light to come in. And, there are hickories that are limbed up high. Under that one finds the understory trees such as dogwoods, for example the Cornus Florida and the Cornus Kousa. One blooms earlier, one blooms later. So you've got the flowers on those, and both have great Fall color. And, we don't want to forget the Japanese maples. They have hundreds of varieties of Japanese maples throughout Gibbs Gardens. Then coming down to the next level Jim typically thinks about evergreens like big rhododendrons that will provide some really dark green foliage and wonderful flowers. Deciduous ornamental shrubs like rhododendron and hydrangea work well together because one is deciduous and one is evergreen. The hybrid rhododendrons have all colors. Then there is mountain laurel with the spring blooms and evergreen foliage. Then the Leucothoe, the populifolia, as well as anise which is great, can grow tall and is wonderfully fragrant. So there are a lot of plants to think about as we work our way top, down.

Keep in mind as we talk through all of these plants that as gardeners and especially if we are looking at a new environment - shade or something we are not familiar with, first DO SOME RESEARCH, get some good books, even talk to some professionals at a retail garden center, educate yourself, look at the books. The books are always divided into three areas - a shade area for shade gardeners, sun for sun gardeners, semi-shade and sun for those other spaces. Once you focus on plants for shade you are going to cut your list of potential plants down tremendously. So start from there but an educational process is often needed for dealing with the shade. But don't forget you can google any plants and if you want a shade plant that has yellow flowers it will tell you. If you want one with blue flowers or pink flowers just google what you want but always mention shade plants.

Moving on to perennials and there are some amazing perennials for shade - Jim likes heuchera and tiarella. The industry is introducing these new selections with incredible color, foliage and blooms. Those are at the top of Eric's list, he loves all of those plants.

And one can add to that ferns. Ferns look great with the plants mentioned. As well one should consider hostas with their big, often times huge, blue-green leaf and a big white spiky flower. When mixed with ferns hosts work out great. Add to that the epimediums which have heart shaped leaves. Bleeding hearts have a heart-shaped flower that is beautiful. And, we can't forget the graceful look of solomons seal. Jim likes the white edge in the shade and the white flowers look great. So there are lots of choices and once again, if you do a little research, come up with your list and remember color and texture work well not only in the sun but in the shade. So always think about your greens - light greens, medium greens, and dark greens and how they work well together.

For those of us that have WATER GARDENS there are certain plants that work well in the shade. Jim thinks that for a water garden when selecting a plant right next to the water choose a plant with a vertical accent because you have a horizontal pond and if you can use the vertical accent the reflection is nice in the water. So if we go with something like arrowheads, for example, they show up well, they are big leafed and they reflect great. As well the taller ferns like cinnamon fern, royal fern or lady fern when on the edges of a pond reflect in the water well. Mix in with those some Acorus, which are ground covers with their chartreuse color, they work beautifully. Another nice plant is Yellow Root, it's a great foliage plant and will fit in beautifully amongst all the other taller plants. Remember, iris will not bloom as much in the shade but they offer the vertical accent that we are seeking. Also consider Papyrus, it's great plant and provides that umbrella look. It hangs over the other plants growing around it. But again, research, educate yourself as to what marginal plants you want to use next to water.

Public gardens are a wonderful place to learn what works in certain environments and it is great to see these collections of plants in their native environment. If you are looking for something that is very similar to what you have at home you can typically find that kind of environment at a public garden. Write down the names of those plants, then go find them online or at your local garden center.

Throughout these gardens the paths move between sun gardens to this high WOODLAND SHADE GARDEN. And Jim's plant collections are outstanding. Eric would like to talk about some of the plants in this high woodland shade environment that work really well. In this high woodland shade area we are standing on a walkway between Solomon seal which has variegated leaves with the arched stem and white flowers in the spring. It is a great plant. They have it mixed with Mahonia, which has a sharper texture and hostas that work great with its big leaf contrasting with the smaller leaf of the solomons seal. Additionally, in this area is Acuba. It looks like it has yellow paint splattered on the leaves and it works well with acorus. Anything chartreuse provides a feeling of color. The Pieris japonica which blooms with beautiful flowers in spring time is also an evergreen. The big ilex latifolia is also included. Of all the ilex the latafolia takes more shade than all of the others except the American holly. It will take a lot of shade. Jim has also included sasanquas which provide fall flowers and are great. Then we have plants such as the anise and again, azaleas. Don't forget the Kurume azaleas, they bloom first and then the Encores bloom after that. So the azaleas will carry you through about eight weeks.

We next visit the WHITE GARDEN. Eric thinks white gardens are particularly elegant and are wonderful for shade. There are a lot of plant options too. Women especially love green and white gardens. The reason is when you think of weddings you think of green and white plus at night white shows up better than any other color. Also, remember all the white flowers are fragrant so any time you come through a green and white garden you are going to enter a fragrance garden. Jim likes the fragrance. And, as well likes for the green and white garden to be a rest area between a bright, sunny space. It is sort of an intermediary garden between the deep shade of a woodland garden and semi-shade and sun of the green and white garden.

Eric has so many fond memories from childhood of exploring in the woods behind the house and coming over a ridge and down there you would see this enormous outcropping of FERNS. This area really transports one to a different place. There is something that has always been magical about these large dells of ferns. And, and as a garden plant it is hard to find something for shade that is more elegant, that is more lush, and that is more beautiful. Jim agrees, ferns take you back to childhood. He finds that everybody that comes to Gibbs Gardens loves ferns. One reason is you have so many, many varieties of ferns. Ferns have different textures but they are all so magical in their look. The way they work together, the groupings of ferns, is wonderful. Texture is important, the texture of a chain fern is different than the texture of a New York fern. At Gibbs Gardens they have millions and millions of native ferns. They are one reason Jim bought the property. This is one of two of the largest fern dales in the nation. But in the spring, summer, fall you can't see leaves on the ground, one just sees the ferns. There are like thirteen native ferns that are found in this area but Jim will mention just a few, maybe five or six. Ferns that sort of carpet the ground are typically going to be the New York fern. It will taper on both ends, is wide in the center and then tapers at the bottom and the top. Most ferns will be wider at the base and then taper to the top only. The chain fern sort of interweaves and works well with the New York fern as a carpet on the ground. Then we have the lady fern that just comes up naturally a little taller than royal ferns. Royal ferns have a totally different texture. They are usually on a tall stem and an almost umbrella shape at the top. Next is the cinnamon fern. Everyone loves cinnamon ferns because the cinnamon stalk appears early. And, we don't want to forget the evergreen fern called Christmas fern. These ferns all mix well together. But, they prefer a more damp soil, so we do need to think about the soil conditions when considering ferns.

As we look at and think about ferns it's important realize they mix with everything. Trilliums, trillium gigantica, the big leaf trillium, come up everywhere and seeds in with the ferns. Of course ferns work great under native azaleas, rhododendrons, mountain laurel and American hollies.

There are a few ferns that will work, not necessarily, in full sun but in SUNNIER AREAS. What are some that Jim would recommend? Probably the three best ferns for sun are going to be Autumn Fern, it will take a lot of sun and has beautiful new growth in the spring of the year. Another fern is Southern Shield Fern. It will grow in full sun. Another fern that Jim uses a lot is the Japanese Painted Fern. Many don't realize that ferns can take full sun. The embankment on the south side of the manor house includes Japanese Painted Ferns and they do beautifully there. And of course the burgundy stem is pulled out if you put a Japanese dissectum lace leaf maple next to it. A great combination. So those are the three that do best for sun. There is no question there are fewer sun loving ferns but there are many, many, many varieties of ferns that grow in the shade.

And ferns, for the most part, are pretty easy to grow. But we do need to keep in mind the CORRECT GROWING CONDITIONS. If you have a compacted, shady area that is full of tree roots and there is not enough compost or not enough moisture then ferns are going struggle. But basically we need an area that is compost rich along with plenty of moisture. In this area it is high shade with under story trees. Jim lets all the leaves fall, then in the spring, like March, they come in with a weed eater and just weed eat everything to the ground to make sure it is neat which allows the ferns to come through. If ferns have enough nutrients all year, and that is compost, it will provide plenty of nitrogen to the ferns and that will be all they need, they will need nothing further, there is no fertilization. That is what they do at Gibbs Gardens. They clean them up one time in March, take out dead sticks, just the big sticks. Little sticks compost. If a big limb is in here they remove those to make it look tidier but ferns are low maintenance. No doubt about it, not much involved with ferns.

GARDEN GROUND COVERS are a very important part of the foundation of any garden. Especially as we look at smaller spaces where we want to add a lot of interest. There are many different, really neat colors and textures that can be added to the garden through ground covers. The guys are standing in a very small area with two small ponds. In this area Jim wanted to make sure to keep the scale relevant to the surrounding area. Thus went with almost totally ground cover plants. and there are many to choose from. Here they have used the feathery textures of the Ogon with the dwarf acorus and the smooth, rounded texture of the pachysandra. Jim added the white wood aster, which has a different texture totally from the big hostas which carry the chartreuse colors and the sedums which work great and pick up a little sunlight. Then go with the mondo grass. The super dwarf is a much shorter mondo and they work work well with the gumpo azalea which is a satsuki azalea. They are all low, very much in scale with a small space. They have also incorporated the cephalotaxus, the spreading plum yew. All of these colors work great with chartreuse and different shades of green. Then all you have to do is add several accent plants - the dwarf dissectum maple and one beautiful Ryusen Japanese maple, and you have a beautiful little garden area. Ferns again are repeated. Jim worked in the ferns from the edges of the stream into the small ponds and the curved bridges that are in this area. They accent and provide structural interest, an architectural type design. This little garden is one of Eric's favorite little gardens. It is small and a garden that any homeowner could put in their yard. One could have one pond or two ponds, or scale it down even smaller. But always think of ground covers around small areas. They work well. And there is a lot of fun that one can have with ground covers. The different textures and colors with little splashes of chartreuse are stunning. Ogon, the acorus some of the broad leaf type of ground covers, classics like Pachysandra mondo, all are easy plants to find and provide huge impact. They work well and are low maintenance.

Eric feels we can't come to Gibbs Gardens without visiting the JAPANESE GARDEN. It is an iconic place and the cornerstone of Gibbs Garden, Jim has gone to great pains to pick plants that very specifically give this garden its personality. There is also a lot of shade here and Eric would like for Jim to talk specifically about the plants that he selected for the shady parts of the Japanese garden. What Jim has done here is to make sure to select plants that have wonderful colors of green, as well as lots of texture because the Japanese garden is not about annuals and perennials nor a lot of flowers. It is more about the trees, the shrubs and the evergreens that work well together. So they have used plants such as nandinas that have white flowers in the spring as well as beautiful red berries. There are dwarf nandinas as well as larger nandinas. They have all of the azaleas which are evergreen and of course bloom here from the first week of April all the way into June. They have the viscosum azaleas, the swamp azaleas, all are wonderful and they are very fragrant. So you have all that group of blooming azaleas. They have Mahonia, Soft Caress, a new mahonia, very, very nice, with a sharper texture. They again they have the acuba, it looks like it has yellow paint splattered on the leaf which carries the variegation and chartreuse colors. And, of course, the hostas and the ferns, all of those plants are included. Many of the plants are evergreen. They use a lot of the gold tread that brings in the chartreuse color for the ogons and the acorus and hostas. So it is more of the varying colors of greens that work well together.

Eric finds it time to end the show and thanks Jim. In this episode we took an in depth look at the many factors that go into successful shade gardening and picked up some great tips that we can use at home.We have learned so much, as we always do, especially about shade plants. And, it is such a fun topic. Jim, thank you so much for sharing the day with us.

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