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!!
It’s been a long cold dreary Spring here in the Pacific North West, but I think maybe…maybe…just maybe Spring is finally here. I inherited all these Rhododendrons when we purchased this property three years ago. Most of them remain un-named, but they are glorious nonetheless:
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:
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.
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:
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.
The biggest change for me in this new garden (well…apart from the climate!) is the shade…lots and lots and lots of shade. This all comes from living east of a deep ravine flanked by towering native cedars (Thuga plicatum), Big Leaf Maples (Acer macrophyllum), and the odd Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga menzeseii). Mature trees and the steep slope to the south of the property doesn’t help either. My previous garden was planted (agonizingly, lovingly) from scratch on a wide open 2 acre blank field. After 15 years, it was looking pretty amazing, the trees were actually trees…no longer sticks… but the sun was still dominant – everywhere! Although I get sun very early in this garden, and it lasts all day, there are a lot of big shade trees and I lose direct sunlight in the back garden by 5:00 pm this time of year. At first I was nervous…I’ve always been a sun lover and that’s always been my favourite time to stop digging and pause for a chilled glass of wine and a bask in the fading sunlight. No more! So, I’ve adapted by taking this time for a walk down to the beach or the waterfront downtown. But I’m learning to enjoy the shade. I have a filtered borrowed view of the sunset streaming through the trees in the ravine. The sky stays pale and huge past 9:00 pm, being further north. All in all, it’s been fun switching my focus to shade loving plants. Dizzy with possibilities! I’ll share a few of my new found favourites with you as we go.
Starting close to the house next to the patio, I limbed up a 10′ tall Viburnum plicatum f. tomentosum ‘Summer Snowflake’ and a 10′ wide Magnolia stellata to create a low, cozy shade bed. Generous Hort friends (Susan, you know who you are!), the UBC spring plant sale, and a spring visit to Free Spirit Nursery in Langley and Fraser’s Thimble Farm on Salt Spring Island were all instrumental in helping me flesh out the bed. It’s just a few months old but coming…from left to right (ish):
Burnnera macrophylla ‘Emerald Mist’
Leucothoe fontanesiana little flames ( behind)
Ajuga reptans ‘Atropurpurea’
Podophyllum ‘Spotty Dotty’ ($$$, but what a plant – it’s thriving with 2 big new leaves already)
Hosta (rescued from a Vancouver tear down)
Mingled in are ground covering Galium odoratum, wild violets, Campanula portenschlagiana, and Omphalodes verna