Friday, March 14, 2008

What grows in a deep shade garden?

My little garden lies on the north side of the building, in the shade of tall cedars; it gets started late in the year.

Late, here in the Lower BC mainland, though, is March; in sunny spots, the crocuses have been up for ages, the daffodils are blooming madly.

Not in my garden, though.

Crocus. Coming along nicely.

It's a deep shade garden, always a difficult proposition. Add to that, heavy, clayey soil and a previous "gardener" who buried great sheets of ground cloth, now entangled in the roots of the shrubbery, and I've got a challenge.

But a couple of days ago, I discovered the first shoots of astilbe poking through the mulch; it's time. Yesterday, I spent three hours removing my thick layer of mulch, raking, cleaning, trimming, spreading crushed eggshells for slugs.

And doing inventory.

What grows in a deep shade, clay garden?

The astilbes are up; so are the columbines. And my one lone teasel, left over from a sunny garden some years back; it looks healthier than it ever has here. I hope it actually blooms this year.

Pachysandra. Already setting blooms.

So here's what I've got growing, a list possibly useful to someone else with a similar situation:

  • Plants that disappeared over the winter and are now sprouting:
    Astilbe, columbine, teasel, perennial pansies, sweet william, hostas, crocuses, blue-eyed grass, honeysuckle, hydrangea, foxglove (wild type), miniature rose.

  • Plants that stayed green all winter:
    The rhododendron, of course. Bergenia, London Pride, pachysandra, lemon balm (cut 'way back), dead nettle, native evergreen fern, creeping (galloping?) Jenny, epimedium, periwinkle, primula (blooming under the snow, even), creeping bluet, and the trees; yew, arborvitae, cedars and box hedge. The mosses.

  • Still in the bare stick stage:
    Fuschia and the maple tree.

  • And still not showing up:
    Lily of the valley, the largest of the hostas, the native deciduous fern (volunteers, and usually very enthusiastic), fringe cups and a foam flower. (Fingers crossed on those final two; they were not well established by last fall.)

Primula. With slug damage, already.

I want to get another batch of begonias this year. They did well the first winter, brightening up a dark corner with flowers right up until the first hard frost, but need to be lifted or replaced yearly.

And in other news, the chestnut-backed chickadee is back, and the pine siskins from last year. Yay!


  1. Oh my ... so much life is showing ... even in your shade! But my rhubarb is making a show ... I don't know if that is good ... hopefully it won't get frozen off.

    Corn Snow is snow that has melted and refrozen into irregular, granular shapes ... can be like little ball bearings ... if in the shade the base is firm enough to support your weight and one can walk on top fairly easily, but later in the day, when things melt out a bit ... very smooshy ... like walking in sand. D says it's old rotten snow! There are lots of explanations on the net ... it is a skiing term.

  2. Ahhh - rhubarb! I love that stuff. My neighbour has some, and I noticed yesterday that it is up a couple of inches.

    Thanks for explaining corn snow. You can tell I'm not a skier. Too much of a klutz; I fell down so many times on my first outing that I never went for a second.


If your comment is on a post older than a week, it will be held for moderation. Sorry about that, but spammers seem to love old posts!

Also, I have word verification on, because I found out that not only do I get spam without it, but it gets passed on to anyone commenting in that thread. Not cool!