Gardening in the Shade

Why is it that us humans always want what we can’t have? I live in a very hot and arid  area, where the sun shines and it hardly ever rains. People come to vacation here to enjoy this climate with the lakes and beaches. I like it too for the most part. Unfortunately for me when it comes to gardening  I prefer shade plants and flowers. Needless to say I have very few as they do not enjoy my hot sandy soil.

Gardening in the Shade with Sensible Gardening


Shade plants are all about form and texture. It becomes more about the foliage than the blossoms. The conditions of shade varies from dry as below large trees to damp along streams or bogs. Some areas will be in dense shade and others in dappled or part shade. For every shady location there is a plant that will grow. Flower pot gardens can be very useful in areas where not only is there shade but the soil is poor and nothing else grows. Potted flowers bursting with colour can bring such a dark, dull spot alive.

Shade has a calming effect in the garden, is ideal for a sitting area which becomes an oasis and gives an air of mystery to the garden. Your shade may be from a building, trees, fences or even  a small patch from man made structures. Dappled shade gives the opportunity for a woodland garden which can include many layers of growth reaching right down to ground covers.

Shade Garden at Sensible Gardening

Deep shade may make it difficult to have a successful lawn, so why not remove it and plant shade loving perennials and shrubs. You might want to try  a shade loving ground cover like pachysandra or vinca which require almost no maintenance. To brighten a dull spot you can add a container and fill it with bright coloured shade loving annuals. The use of statuary and fountains also blend well with foliage plants.

Shade Garden at Sensible Gardening

Fortunately for gardeners there is a large selection of shade plants to choose from. There are shade loving annuals, perennials, shrubs, vines and trees.


AZALEA (shrub)


FUSHSIA (annual in the north))


HOSTA (perennial)


COLEUS (annual)


FERN (perennial)


BRUNNERA (perennial)


IMPATIENS (annual)

HEUCHERA (perennial)

Gardening with Black with Sensible Gardening

LAMIUM (perennial)

Ground Covers with Sensible Gardening

SOLOMON’S SEAL (perennial)

The unexpected Green Flower with Sensible Gardening

ASTILBE (perennial)

Astilbe at Sensible Gardening

LILY OF THE VALLEY  (perennial)

Lily of the Valley at Sensible Gardening and Living



SPIDERWORT (perennial)


EPIMEDIUM (perennial)




ASTRANTIA (perennial)


For large specimen shade plants try these:

GUNNERA (perennial)


GOATSBEARD (perennial)

Goats Beard at Sensible Gardening

MONKSHOOD (perennial)

Favorite Fall Perennials with Sensible Gardening

PERSICARIA (perennial)


I’ve really only touched on the topic of shade gardening, but my purpose was to show that shade in the garden should not be dreaded. Shade opens the door to many other gardening opportunities and if embraced can create subtle enjoyable spaces throughout  the garden. As well it can be much easier on the gardener when summer temperatures soar and water becomes a restricted resource. Shade is a good thing to be enjoyed by all!

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Gardening in the Shade with Sensible Gardening. Shade open the door to many new gardening opportunities.

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Tagged flowering plants for shade, gardening in the shade, perennials for shade, shade, shade gardening, shade gardens, shade plants and flowers, woodland gardens

2 thoughts on “Gardening in the Shade

  1. Liked this article on shade gardening, we have such a lot with a small woodland and other shady borders facing north. It was a steep learning curve when we moved here and took me quite a while to work out what would grow and what wouldn’t. I think there should be a lot more information about shade gardening, it would be so useful. Twenty years later, I can safely say that the shady parts of the garden and the woodland are my favourite places, packed with early bulbs, plants from China , the Himalayas, western Canada etc, there is never a dull moment, and the autumn tints – fantastic!

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