And foliage…

It wouldn’t be a shade garden if I didn’t share some magnificent foliage highlights as well…

Saxifraga ‘Jaws’
New Ichtyoselmis (syn. Dicentra) macrantha (Chinese Bleeding Heart) from Free Spirit Nursery still in the pot, with Beesia.
I really do love that Podophyllum ‘Spotty Dotty’!
Pulmonaria, lime Spirea behind and Annabelle Hydrangea just getting started. It’s the only one out of 7 that the deer haven’t managed to nip off the buds when I’m not looking. I despair for my dream of a river of hydrangeas flowing through the upper Garden. More drastic measures need to be taken. So…a better fence, a better dog (!), selective chicken wire…? The smell of Bobbex and Irish Spring soap is just not working with my vision!!
Beautiful foliage on the Hydrangea serrata ‘O-amacha Nishiki’. Luckily it’s a tiny little thing tucked between some bigger things and the deer haven’t found it….yet!!


Shade garden

There was a lovely little spot when we moved into this place off the patio, near the stream and under a Viburnum ‘Summer Snowflake’ and a Magnolia Stella, which in turn are north of a huge stand of Black Bamboo (Phyllostachys nigra) that shelter the deck and hot tub area.  There were a couple of overgrown Berberis thunbergii ‘Lime Glow’ there that were languishing in dense shade and low overhangs.  The Berberis came out early in the Spring and are happily ensconced in the sunny front garden. Time to complete a shade garden back here…ah…dizzy with possibilities!

So far, we’re looking at Myosotis sylvatica scattered through (roughly from left to right): Epimedium, Ajuga, Alchemilla Mollis, Adiantum aleuticum, Adiantum venustrum, Brunnera macrophylla ‘Emerald Mist’, Chaenophyllum hirsutum ‘Roseum’, Campanula poshanskyana, Corydalis lutea, Anenome nemoroso, NoID Hosta, Podophyllum ‘Spotty Dotty’, Epidmedium wushanense, Syneilesis aconitifolium, Beesia, Hosta sieboldiana ‘Elegans’, Trillium, Dodecatheon meadia, Erythronium oregonium, Some so far tiny red Primula Japonica….phew. That’s about it!!


The overall bed…maybe 10’x 5′. Under the shade of the Viburnum ‘Summer Snowflake’ and Magnolia stellata. 


The close-ups:

Podophyllum ‘Spotty Dotty’. Oh my but this plant is lovely.
Beesia – this plant has been sitting in a pot for two years as I fuss with where it belongs. It belongs here…happy to spread its roots finally.
Hosta ‘Elegans’ I think….lots of growing to do. Those leaves get huge!! And much, much bluer. Fingers crossed the slugs and deer don’t find it here!
This Trillium ovatum has been blooming around for weeks. It started out white and has slowly turned burgundy.
Dodecatheon meadia (Shooting Star) is a lovely little native wildflower that is surprisingly easy to grow.
This Clematis ‘Nelly Moser’ might one day wind through the Magnolia stellata…making the tree ‘bloom’ in the summer too. You can see the Magnolia flowers are littering the bed.
Hacquetia epipactis. I just spotted this at the local Hort Society plant sale. It looks interesting…we’ll see. I just couldn’t resist the promise of yellow/lime green/chartreuse early spring flowers!!
Hmmmmm….can’t for the life of me remember what the heck this is???
NoID Hosta dug up from a recent tear down in Dunbar, Vancouver with Myosotis (Forget-me-not)
Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’ doesn’t look like much….yet!  It will be glorious!
Campanula poshanskyana
Alchemilla mollis (Lady’s mantle)
Alchemilla mollis variegated. Let’s hope the variegation is stable.
Asplenium scolopendrium (Harts tongue fern). I scored this for $1 at the local Hort Society sale….to replace the one I lost this winter. Fingers crossed.
A super favourite. Syneilesis aconitifolium. (Shredded umbrella plant). It just wasn’t in the right spot last year, so I divided the tiny little thing and am trying in two different, but equally shady spots. More fingers crossed!
Gotta love Brunnera macrophylla ‘Emerald Mist’ because it’s lovely, but especially because the deer don’t!!!
Adiantum venustrum is stealing my heart thanks to the recommendation from Free Spirit Nursery in Langley as it weaves its delicate way through, around and under the rest of the bed. Lovely! Delicate!! Lime-ish!! Very happy with this one. Only starting its second year and knitting things together already. Above are the burgundy leaves of an Epimedium wushanense and the Podophyllum grabbing more spotlight!
Heuchera ‘Carnival coffee bean’
Leucothoe axillaris ‘Little Flames’ – a compact, evergreen, shade shrub that produces fiery red new shoots. Sadly last year’s new shoots were bitten off by the frost/snow/cold over the winter, but Leucothoe clearly lives to shoot again!
Adiantum aleuticum imbracatum (Dwarf Maidenhair Fern)
Epimedium wushanense found at the UBC Botanical Garden plant sale last year. A spectacular sale that was sadly ‘cancelled’ this year because it didn’t make enough money to be worthwhile (?) and the volunteers are getting too old to endure the long days of the setup, sale and strike down. Sigh. Time for a fresh crop of volunteers, I fear.

Working on the Stumpery/Fernery today….

Half way up the slope we have a very shady, flat, fertile area that has been home to 10 blueberry bushes which the birds enjoy, but I rarely do.  So…I thought I’d put in some ferns and other shade loving friends. We chopped down the plum tree (sadly it had considerable black knot disease). But, with the plum down and the blue Colorado spruce lost to the weighty snow this winter, I fear this space may now be sunnier than I previously reckoned. But let’s wait and see when the big-leaf maples and Alders fill in. For now….the Stumpery/Fernery:

1. Cyrtomium falcatum Rochfordianum (Japanese Holly Fern)

2. Athyrium ‘Ghost’

3. Doronicum (Leopards Bane)

4. Blechnum spicant (Deer Fern)

5. Dryopteris erythrosora (Autumn Fern)

6. Athyrium niponicum (Japanese Painted Fern) Metallicum

7. Dicentra Formosa ‘alba’ (Western Bleeding Heart)

8. Asarum caudatum (Wild Ginger)

9. Arachniodes simplicor ‘Variegata’ (East Indian Holly Fern)

10. Polystichum munitum (Western Sword fern)

11. Polygonatum odoratum ( Solomon’s Seal)

12. Trachystemon orientalis (Russian Borage)

13. Polygonatum odoratum ‘varigatum’ (Variegated Solomon’s Seal)

14. Osmunda regalis (Royal Fern)

15. Woodwardia fimbriata (Giant Chain Fern)

16. Crocosmia

17. Vaccinium corymbosum (Blueberry)

18. Erythronium ‘Pagoda’

19. Centaurea Montana (Bachelor’s button)

Cyrtomium falcatum Rochfordianum (Japanese Holly Fern)
Athyrium ‘Ghost’
Doronicum (Leopards Bane)
Blechnum spicant (Deer Fern)
Dryopteris erythrosora (Autumn Fern)
Polygonatum odoratum ( Solomon’s Seal)
Trachystemon orientalis (Russian Borage)
Erythronium ‘Pagoda’
Arachniodes simplicor ‘Variegata’ (East Indian Holly Fern)
Polystichum munitum (Western Sword fern)
Asarum caudatum (Wild Ginger)
Dicentra Formosa ‘alba’ (Western Bleeding Heart)
Athyrium niponicum (Japanese Painted Fern) Metallicum
Centaurea Montana (Bachelor’s button)

Waving in the breeze…ornamental grasses and bamboo

Little makes my heart soar more than the sunlight and the breeze hitting grass and bamboo.  The PNW is a good friend to both.  Most of the grasses grew a little better in Ontario…but then I had a plethora of sun. Bamboo…not so much!!  So I was delighted to inherit a lovely stand of black bamboo. The grasses I’ve mostly added.


Black bamboo in the foreground.  A mature Miscanthus sinensis ‘Morning Light’ glowing in the background.
Molina caerulea ‘Variegata’ intermingled with shockingly blue Helictotrichon sempervirens.
Miscanthus sinensis ‘Zebrinus’. So robust everywhere I’ve planted it.   First season here.
Miscanthus sinensis ‘Variegatus’ in its first year, with plenty of shade. Doing well!
Miscanthus sinensis ‘ Morning Light’ – very delicate, thin, lightly variegated leaves -glowing in the light with Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Forrester’ in foreground. I’ll move the latter in the spring to more sunlight. It’s not showing off enough.
Luzula sylvatica – great in shade, sturdy and really lime in colour.
Speaking of shade…the especially lovely Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’…a little slow to get going, but well worth the wait.  It positively glows in the shade.
I’m new to bamboos so not sure what this one is…I inherited 4 pots sitting on the sun deck.
Festuca ovina ‘Glauca’. A little greyer than its usual blue, but it hasn’t been watered all summer. It will blue up in the fall rains. Quite dwarf.
A closeup of Phyllostachys nigra. The stems emerge green the first year, mottled the next and turn black in the third year.


Fall blooming rhododendron…???


Hmmmm…why is this rhodo blooming in the last week of August?  Very peculiar.

Rhododendrons, of course, do extremely well in the shady, acidic soils of Vancouver Island. I was lucky to inherit 43 (!) NOID rhododendrons on this property…the blooms start early early in the spring and go on and on and on…one bush after the other. Glorious, really.  Here’s a throwback to last spring…





One of my top favourite plants is Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’.  Super hardy, it has up to 10″ pure white heads.  The heads start off lime, move through pure white and end up crispy pale browned.  It has lime-ish coloured leaves, stays at 3-4′, and blooms on new wood.  I had a river of them in my old garden and plan to create another flow of them up the slope once the rains start in the fall.

But, for now, I have inherited a few others:


Hydrangea paniculata ‘Grandiflora’ trained to a standard
Tiny little Hydrangea serrata ‘O-amacha Nishiki’ bought at UBC plant sale last spring. Liking the shade, loves some water, lovely variegated leaves, flowers were pink-ish.
Hydrangea arborescens ‘Invincibelle Spirit’ in its first season….not quite sure if I like it
NOID hydrangea – Ayesha??


Hydrangeas do really well in the PNW. They like shade, ok with a bit of drought, and the deer are staying away from my mature plants.  The newbies need a bit of protecting it appears.  The bonus is that the flowers dry really well and hold in there through the winter…on the plants or cut and brought into the house.

Dried arrangement – Hydrangea 3 ways, peony and crocosmia seed heads