Shape up a dull shade garden
By: Garden Gate staff
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Shade garden makeover
Deer and shade are a challenging garden combination. But a little fencing and the right plants can really shape things up.
This bed in our test garden had been ho-hum for several years, as the before photo at left shows. The plants grew well, but were regularly eaten by the neighborhood deer, and there weren’t many flowers.
To see how we transformed this shady bed, drag the slider on the photo. Then keep clicking to learn more helpful tips.
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Shade garden texture
The more shade there is, the fewer flowers there are that will grow in that situation, so a variety of foliage shapes is key to a good-looking shade bed. Originally this area had lots of rounded leaves. Adding lacy ferns like the Japanese painted fern (below), grasslike sedge and other leaf textures made it a more eye-catching border. Placing similar leaf shapes together works best when the colors vary.
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Shade garden drama
That bare brick wall needed something to break up all the lines and fill the empty space. Putting a mature PJM rhododendron and a large plant-filled 24-in. container midborder did the trick. The rhododendron adds eye-catching color in early spring with the magenta flowers (below). The container took over from spring to fall.
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Shade garden color
You can see in the before photo that there wasn’t much color variation. Now, thanks to a serviceberry trimming, more light gets in. We removed a few damaged branches along with some low-hanging ones that were getting in the way. This has brightened up the foliage of ‘August Moon’ hosta considerably. Add to that pools of the pink and white begonia (below) and the garden is a lot warmer looking.