Purple or red for high/full/dappled shade
Hello fellow shadies,
Sorry for long post, trying to pre-answer as many questions as I can.
I'm looking for "year-round" purple or red foliage shrub or tree (deciduous ok but would prefer "evergreen", so long as it's not ever green) 3' or higher, for well-drained but irrigatable loamy area beneath high-limbed doug firs in Bellevue, WA (zone 8). Under consideration:
- Sambucus nigra 'Black Lace' (Elderberry)
- Corylus maxima Purpurea (Hazel)
- Hydrangea 'lady in red'
- Japanese maple? (dwarf variety that is always red or purple?)
These have the right look (esp sambucus or lacy maple with both texture and color contrast). Question is whether they'd keep enough of this look -- and survive of course -- in my shade situation. I've ruled out all green/light green/cream variegation (too many shades of green in this space already, need to really break it up), and don't wan't only occaisional color (e.g. pieris growth, or relying on blooms).
I've read most/all shade definitions and find no single term best describes my environment, so if you'll pardon the specificity, here's situation in early spring (imagine it getting 20% more light in summer):
- 1 hr direct to very lightly dappled sunlight
- 1 hr of dappled sunlight
- 3-4 hr ambient/reflected light (nearest limbs from doug firs are 40' up, although there are decidious and other doug firs in other parts of yard that cast their shadows)
- Oh yeah, it's Seattle area, so this all describes a sunny morning, which is true maybe 25% of time in spring/fall, 50% summer.
In this same space I am growing camelia sasquanna, sweetspire, heuchera and even the tail end of a bit of creeping veronica. All are alive after several years, the camelia and veronica bloom a reasonable amount (considering) for a few weeks. So I guess that's good evidence that it's better than "deep shade" although that would probably be the best description if forced to choose a single term.
So my question is, anyone have experience or hunch on which of the options I'm looking at would do better, OR any options I'm overlooking?
As an aside, my fantasy is 1) a battery-powered, computerized light sensor you stick in ground anywhere, storing light data over time (and while we're at it, moisture) and (when connected via USB to your computer) spitting out a set of scores, 2) online community-driven database with range of light scores suitable for each plant. Crazy?