Deep Shade Zone 3 help needed please

vrie(3/4 MT)May 6, 2006

I am a lurker here at your shade forum, but am pretty regular in the northern forums. I have just about reached the end of my rope with my shade issues!

I have a small flower bed around the edge of my house. To the east are several 30ft pines and 2 deciduouis trees (the neighbors) and a small patio. To the south is my two story house. The west and north sides are pretty open, but this strip gets virtually NO sun. The previous owners slapped a few things in there- tulips, grape hyacinth, daylilies (all that never really bloom) and a tiny aster that does. I have added to the soil a bunch but last year even coleus never did anything- just sat there.

This picture shows MAXIMUM sun in the afternoon. In the morning there is NOTHING>

This bed connects to a full sun west side bed that has a whole bunch of stuff. In that bed are things that can spread like some morning glory and violas the previous owners put in. Even those don't invade that section! Heck, even the dandelions and grass don't really grow there- just sprout and sit!

The strip is only about 2 ft wide, so mostly ferns won't work very well, since there is a narrow walkway to the deck there. The previous owners put some hosta in a bed a few feet further from the house and even there they don't do very well.

My local nursery had very few suggestions for me. Sweet woodruff is one thing they suggested and he advised against snowdrops due to spreading issues. The only thing he could really advise were impatiens.

I am particularly looking for perennials but am willing to consider annuals for some color back there!

Thanks for any help you can think of!

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I've got an area like that in my front bed. Some of it gets a splash of sun for an hour or two, but some gets none at all. I am doing great there, but I have given in to keeping that area moist with a soaker hose. It has expaned my choices. My bleeding heart gives a splash of color in the spring, then I have the impatient annual thing going the rest of the summer. I cut back the bleeding heart when it gets too big in the summer and the astilbe growing underneath then gives a show; anemone finishes up in the fall. A small evergreen keeps the area "balanced". If you don't want a soaker hose, they have those gel crystals that keep the area moist between waterings. I use them in the house and am experimenting with them in the garden only now, so I am not sure yet how good it will work. Hope this helps.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2006 at 1:03PM
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janetr(Ottawa USDA 4a)

Looks like a great place to plant goutweed! ;o)

Seriously. Problem areas are great places to put the invasives. The difficult conditions help keep them under control.

If that makes you nervous, I'm sure you can find some smaller ferns. Even the larger ones tend to stay smaller if conditions aren't ideal. Ostrich fern surrounded by variegated goutweed would actually be very pretty. The sidewalk would prevent them from spreading to better territory, although you might want to put up a barrier at the end where it connects to the other bed.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2006 at 4:35PM
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You could try lamium or false lamium; they will tolerate dryness as well. Jacob's ladder and barrenwort probably would do okay and bergenia too for the pretty pink flowers in spring. Good luck!

    Bookmark   May 8, 2006 at 11:42PM
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cathya(7 LI, NY)

I also would suggest Lamium. Its a ground cover, but I have some that thrives underneath a 15' wide, dense cutleaf japanese maple. I put the lamium under the tree about 5 years ago, and it just took off! Your soil appears wet in the picture. I don't think the wetness should be a killer either.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2006 at 11:18PM
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vrie(3/4 MT)

Thanks for input folks- I'm kinda looking this year to see what annuals do OK

It's only wet because I seeded annuals shortly before that and am doing water, water water lol I'm about to go get that soaker hose!

Anyway, with all this nice weather, I'll try to keep you posted as to what (if anything)decided to grow back there!

Oh and I did put in some virginia bluebells that are at least growing right now and a bleeding heart near the corner.

My brother just bought a house with THICKETS of lily of the valley so if I start thinking invasive maybe i'll thin his flower beds lol

    Bookmark   May 25, 2006 at 8:42PM
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echoes_or(Zone 3)

I have a similiar area but mine stays moist, the plants I have there would do well even in a drier area. I have Columbines, the woodruff you talked about and it is not an invasive problem, hostas, lug wort, sedums, a geranium I can't remember the name of but has lacy fern looking leaves, and lady ferns. These all do great in my shade area, if yours is drier than you might have to water some but the shade should not be an issue with these plants. They are are perennial... Good luck. My list is narrowed down some because of my being a zone 3.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2006 at 12:36PM
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echoes_or(Zone 3)

After I went back and read your title I had a major DUH! moment - zone 3 to zone 3.... Takes me awhile but I sometimes get the point.... LOL

    Bookmark   May 27, 2006 at 12:38PM
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vrie(3/4 MT)

Thanks again everyone

echoes it's just one of those days. I'm having one too-- i read that and forgot that i put zone 3 in my title!

I have added the lily of the valley to that bed. Hopefully I'll at least get some green this year-- it was pretty pathetic last year!

    Bookmark   May 30, 2006 at 10:06PM
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mochahead(7b VA)

May I change the focus just a little on this thread? We have the same problem, but our areas are highly visable outside our kitchen window and we would want year-round plantings or at least one or two basic plantings which would complement the color of spring and summer. Any thoughts on shrubbery or something with year-round character?

    Bookmark   June 2, 2006 at 11:56AM
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echoes_or(Zone 3)

Hey mochahead (great name)how about a combination of the red barberry and the (new to me) golden dwarf barberry? They both keep their color and the golden is just pure fire. I was just told that there is a golden fescue on the market, might look pretty cool tucked among the others. The shrub that is so knarly and when the leaves drop the branches really come into play - is that harry lauders something????Lots of shrubs have nifty colored bark so you could intermix them also so you have the yellow and red branches mixed into the whole look. One thing about the barberry's though is that they have thorns, so not sure if it would be where someone could bump them or not. The dwarf thorns are much smaller though..

    Bookmark   June 3, 2006 at 5:01PM
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