One of the most common questions that we get from GardenSMART viewers is how do I have success gardening in the shade. Of course shade gardening is always going to be a little challenging. The lion's share of all flora on planet earth prefers some sunlight so there's a narrower range of plants that really want to thrive in shade but there are certain things that we can do to help them along
and Eric would like to discuss those with Paul. What are some suggestions he would have for gardeners? Well avoid trees, that's where the shade comes from. Very true but here their shade comes from the shadows from the greenhouse. But never the less one can walk in the forest and everything that is growing in the forest is alright to put in your shade garden. It's cooler there. The genus Epimedium is an example. Many ferns are able to grow in full shade. The biggest thing is, of course, selecting the right plant and then understanding that in many cases the plants you have selected very well may fail. There's a meaningful section of Eric's garden that's deep shade and every year the range of plants he can grow gets narrower and narrower, to now it's mostly hostas and a few other ferns that do well.
But it's very important to understand whether your shade is more moist or dry. For the dry shade Ophiopogon or Epimedium will do really well. As one gets into more of the moist shade there are plants like hostas, pulmonaria, heucheras or tiarella that will do well. And this garden has some splendid examples. Eric particularly likes the names over the plants. Take notes, use your pencil, take a picture.
In a shade garden Eric finds that adding raised beds helps. Often times the soil under a tree is going to be a really difficult environment to grow in. And in fact there are certain trees like pecans and hickory that are allelopathic. The roots actually excrete a chemical that kills the grass and everything under it so the trees don't have competition. Of course you're not going to have any success gardening in that environment. So look at what your soil is doing, maybe introduce raised beds if the soil conditions are not ideal. Paul agrees, raised beds are a good idea, they have utilized that technique here. Additionally make sure there's adequate compost added to the soil so that you will have good moisture retention. The plants will be glad and you'll be answering your efforts. The plants will do well. And that is what we want as gardeners. We want happy, healthy plants, that is why we garden.
By Susan Martin for Proven Winners,
Photographs courtesy of Proven Winners
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