Shade is a wonderful opportunity for gardeners to play with the color, shapes, and textures of foliage, which plays an important role in creating cool, lush tapestries along woodland walks and under trees. When selecting plants, consider your site first. While few plants will grow in deep shade, many tolerate — or require — low light and partial shade. Surprisingly, sun-lovers like Daylilies and Geraniums perform well in light shade; their flowers may be sparser but they continue for a longer time.
Check soil composition and drainage. Be sure to include a generous amount of humus-rich organic material, to supply nutrients and help the soil retain moisture. Soil moisture is an important consideration. Astilbes and Primula, for example, prefer moist soil, while Hostas and Epimedium do well in dry situations. All Plants appreciate regular watering, particularly during their first year while their roots establish — about an inch of water each week. To help minimize moisture loss and moderate soil temperature, cover the soil around new plants with organic mulch.
When choosing plants that will thrive in your location, focus on foliage contrasts because flowers are fleeting. Look for plants with distinctive leaf shapes and colors, including variegation, and combine smaller-leaved linear plants with the bigger, bolder forms. One final point — plan for a succession of bloom, starting with early spring bulbs followed by plants with spring, summer, and fall flowers. Annuals are a big help here.
Now that you have created this beautiful shady respite from summer’s heat, consider making it destination. Welcome admirers with a pretty bench or other garden seating.