Please show me some shady cottage gardens

gfult(6)May 23, 2007

I need some photos to inspire me!

I inhereted a somewhat formal garden when I bought my house and I have been slowly moving toward more of the cottage garden look.

It felt so effortless in my sunny beds but my shady beds are starting to look like a bad haircut. Some parts are still pretty sparse for my taste and the rest looks more crowded than abundant.

Most of the photos of shade gardens I have found by searching are close-ups, highlighting interesting foliage and plant combinations. I would like to see more of the bed or garden if possible since I am really struggling with making it all work together.


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I second Gfult! I am having the same problem in my backyard, which is overshadowed by many tall oaks. Would love to see your shade gardens!

    Bookmark   May 23, 2007 at 10:59AM
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hi rosy--I don't know how to pst photos but I can give you the names of plants that ARE happy in my shade garden. There are many varieties of Heucheras that do well in both wet and dry shade. Columbines flourish and hostas and ferns. These are all easy to grow and hardy. kat

    Bookmark   May 23, 2007 at 11:31AM
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faltered(Hamburg NY Z5/6)

No photos here. I was still working on my shady area, too, so I avoided long shots.

I can, however, tell you what I have planted in mine:

lily of the valley
sweet william

That's in my deeply shaded area. In an area that gets some slight morning sun but mostly shade, I have also mixed in some scabiosa, iris, japanese iris, cardinal flower, and some others. My daylilies perform surprisingly well considering they receive no direct sun.

Hope that helps,

    Bookmark   May 23, 2007 at 11:36AM
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hi tracyi I have the same setting. Under a weeping cherry and behind the house. Have you seen the yellow foliages spiderwort- "sweet kate"? It does well here and I also have luck with the rugosa rose 'pink grootendorst' which blooms all summer for me, It is a tall rose but narrow. kat

    Bookmark   May 23, 2007 at 12:11PM
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aftermidnight Zone7b B.C. Canada

My garden is semi-shade and it is done in sections so I can't get a photo of the layout unless I suspend myself from a sky hook. Gfult, what kind of beds do you have, island, beds near house, by fences? If you could post pictures of what you're working with, there are a lot of very talented people in this forum who might not be able to post pictures but can give you good suggestions if they could see your layout.


    Bookmark   May 23, 2007 at 12:19PM
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chris_ont(5a Ont)

Here are some with the garden I sold (along with the house) last summer. I'm currently working my way back to establishing a shade garden at the new house.
There is nothing fancy here, but it always looked very lush.

Bleeding Heart and astilbe in the back, heuchera, dwarf bleeding heart, violet (not the spreading kind), and hosta in front.
Also: Bugbane (brunette) and Monkshood nearby. I love my Monkshood. This bed looks a little rough. I took this picture after I renovated a bit because, as you can see below, earlier that spring it was definitely getting too crowded.

Same bed, different angle, earlier that spring. Leopard's bane and anemones in front. I usually have a sprinkling of forget-me-nots wherever they aren't shaded out by the hostas. Obviously, organized color schemes were not a priority to me here :)

To the left of the previous image, more of the obligatory hosta, along with ferns, a sprinkling of blue bellflowers and solomon seal. This area is being shaded by a huge lilac and gets some sun in the morning. The big hosta got chopped up the following spring to replace the two smaller ones, which I took with me when I moved.

Leopard's Bane and heuchera make for a beautiful combination. Troll flower is also very pretty with all that purple but, like the leopard's bane, a little ephemeral to be effective all summer.

I'm going to put all of these back into my new gardens - no regrets about any of these.

I'm thinking of trying some Hellebore, but they are frightfully expensive to buy in any quantity.

Tip: plant a few white "double" impatiens in the front of your shade bed while you are waiting for your plants to fill in. The double variety looks like little roses and makes the whole bed glow in the twilight or on a rainy day. And the white doesn't look as clownish as impatiens can sometimes be and won't interfere with the more subtle colors of shade plant blooms.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2007 at 12:46PM
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Chris, I just love the casual arrangement of your plants! That is EXACTLY the look I'd like to achieve someday in my own gardens. BEAUTIFUL!!!

    Bookmark   May 23, 2007 at 1:13PM
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aftermidnight Zone7b B.C. Canada

Chris, Hellabore are really easy from seed, the trick with them is to plant the seed as soon as it's ripe. If it's not fresh it can go into a prolonged dormancy and then very difficult to germinate. After planting the fresh seed it sits dormant until January/February then they pop up in mass. This is another plant that self seeds readily if you don't deadhead. Mine take about 3 years to bloom from seed.


    Bookmark   May 23, 2007 at 1:57PM
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Here is a picture of one of my shady areas. Columbine, campanula 'Blue Clips', yellow violas, hostas, tiarella, lamium all do well here.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2007 at 2:05PM
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Here is my newest shady bloomer, Francoa

I started this shady garden with two trees in the fall of 1997. In 2005 I added the little patio. The trellis with star jasine was already established by then.

Here is a link to and album I just put together with photos from today, back to early 2005.

Here is a link that might be useful: Debbie's shady garden

    Bookmark   May 23, 2007 at 2:11PM
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lavendrfem(z6 CT)

Here is my shade garden from my first house

    Bookmark   May 23, 2007 at 4:18PM
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lori_elf z6b MD

I grow a lot of native wildflowers and bulbs in my shade garden, things like bluebells (mertensia), great solomon's seal, ferns, wood asters, etc. Then you can add hostas, astilbe, hellebores, aconitum, etc.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2007 at 4:44PM
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jennypat Zone 3b NW MN(Zone 3b NW MN)

Is Leopard's Bane a shade plant? I have it in full sun, it's been there a couple years, but doesn't seem to be doing very well. I wonder if I should move it to the shade garden.

Jenny P

    Bookmark   May 23, 2007 at 7:14PM
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Wow, this is exactly what I needed. I am very inspired by all of these beautiful gardens.
I will get back to you with an update.
Thank you!

    Bookmark   May 23, 2007 at 9:33PM
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fammsimm(Z8 DFW)

The beds all along the back fence are in deep shade. One area in particular is very heavily shaded and the only thing that has ever thrived in that area is english ivy.

This area is to the left of the ivy and does get a little bit of sun. I have lambs ear, spider plant, coleus, lavender, purple heart, salvia planted here. This picture was taken the first week of April and it has filled in considerably since then.


    Bookmark   May 24, 2007 at 9:39AM
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mrmorton(z5 IL)

I love shade gardening. I like working with foliage texture and color. Bloom is really just a bonus.
Part of my front yard is shaded by a large Sycamore tree.
This is the same path area, but shown from differing perspectives.

I have a lot of areas in my yard that are shaded, but seem to be lacking in pictures. I'll have to remedy that.
My current favorite shade plants:
Heuchera - specifically 'Chatterbox' and 'Regina'
Hosta - 'Halcyon' and 'August Moon'
Japanese Forest Grass
Bottlebrush grass
Oakleaf Hydrangea
Annabelle Hydrangea

    Bookmark   May 24, 2007 at 1:54PM
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    Bookmark   May 24, 2007 at 5:51PM
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aftermidnight Zone7b B.C. Canada

Mrmorton, Those lovely curving paths of yours, how deep/long are the areas that they wander through. The area I'm working/dunging out now has a straight boring path, I'd love to change the flow of it.


    Bookmark   May 24, 2007 at 6:45PM
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