Saturday, May 11, 2013

New Shade Garden

I have always admired shade gardens. Varying shades of green, different textures and even a few delicate blossoms to enhance the woodland effect of such a garden always intrigued me. After we did the renovations last year, I suddenly had mostly sunny areas to plant. I wondered if I'd be able to find a spot to grow my lush woodland garden. But then, I noticed a rather boring spot along the side of my front yard that was covered with English Ivy. It is shaded by a Kwanzan cherry tree on one side and a Forsythia hedge on the other. I knew it was the perfect spot for my long awaited shade garden.

The first task was to remove the ivy. Judging by the spread and depth of the vine, I'm guessing it was here for a long time. Their roots are not very deep, so its relatively easy to pull out, but it was still a big job, given the amount of it.

The ivy was removed and the area was raked clean. The soil beneath had not seen the sun in many years and was quite compacted. I laid a nice layer of compost on top and then enlisted my husband to turn over the soil in order to loosen it and mix in the compost.

Ah... a nice clean, prepared bed. just waiting for plants now.

Back in February, when I started day dreaming about this shade garden, I ordered a bunch of plants from a mail-order catalog called Bluestone Perennials. They arrived nice and neat in a box just waiting to go into the garden. I was so excited when my shipment arrived. My kids thought I was a weirdo. 

I had drawn up a plan on homemade graph paper, plotting out complimentary and contrasting textures, colors and mature size of the plants. So after giving the shipped plants a good watering and some dappled sunlight, I placed the plants into the garden and modified the layout a bit. I have hostas, heucheras, ferns, columbine, bleeding hearts, tricyrtis (toad lily), solomon seal and anenome to name a few. The great thing about the plants from Bluestone is that they arrive in biodegradable plantable pots made from coconut husk fibers (coir). Because of this, you can plant the pot directly into the ground causing little to no transplant shock and the fibers naturally break down in the soil on their own.

After planting them in the ground, I edged the bed with some rocks I found on the property that match the edgings of the other garden beds.

After two weeks, the little plants are still growing. I can see a few new leaf sprouts and flower buds on a few of the plants which is encouraging. Parts of the garden get some morning sun and a little evening sun. Some parts are very shady. I can't wait to see how each plant grows as I continue to learn... after all, that's what gardening is all about, right?

Shade garden under a blanket of cherry petals. 

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