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Wild Willow
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I have one large tree that provides enough shade for a shade garden.. I used to have a very small bed all the way around it built up with landscape timbers.. but someone backed into it last winter and knocked it all to heck.. sooo.. I have been after hubby to puleeease put it back together and use braces this time.. but it is still all over the ground. Soooo, now I am thinking of expanding it!! neener Serves him right for waiting so long to fixe it, right! lol

So here is what I am thinking.. I will rebuild what was already there.. and then I will have another bed lower and larger around that one.. so it will be two tiered.. I think it sounds interesting.. and will give me a little more room to play with. clap

My main concern is that it is already July.. and I am in zone 5.. is it too late to start a project like this? And I have NO idea what kind of plants I want.. as I have never had anything in the shade before.. so this will be a whole new experience for me.. and I will probably be bugging the heck out of all of you wonderful, helpful people on the forum. kissie

Please tell me your thoughts, ideas, opinions, etc!! wavy

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If your buying plants in pots it is never too late. It is too late for transplanting from existing beds though.

Hostas, astilbes, bleeding hearts, coral bells, jacob's ladder, lily of the valley, silver mounds, goats beard are a few of what I have in my shade garden.

What size are you thinking of expanding it to?


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Becareful while planning your garden. Is this an evergreen or is it only going to provide shade while in leaf. And then only part of the day for most of the garden area. So you are looking for part shade plants rather than full shade. Or plants that like "dappled" shade.

Remember to put protection around the trunk of the tree so you don't raise the soil in that area. Trees can get sick if the soil is raised around the trunk.

Is there a particular type of garden you are like? For example, cottage, knot, outdoor room or showcasing a certain color or type of plant?

I love enclosed gardens. Why I don't know but that's the way I am right now. Not saying that couldn't change with time because I'm sure it could.

Of course it's never to late to plan a garden and prepare the soil. If you want to use the lasagna method of composting in preparing the additional ground this would be a great time to start. That way you could plant in the spring with out having to pull any sod or weeds at all.

If you are going to take up any existing grass/weeds the hard way it is still a great time to start. And once you have decided on your flowers you can amend the soil in plenty of time to change the pH of the soil for spring planting. Or if you soil is in good shape for what you want to plant now you can begin planning your fall and winter sows.

Things like columbine, and hosta can be planted in the fall so that they can spring up first thing in the spring.




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Tamara, I will probably be buying in pots.. as I don't have anything to transplant. lol And the sizes will be about 3 1/2 feet square for the upper tier.. and about 6-7 feet square for the bottom tier.. and those are guesses.. I haven't measured it all out yet.


TK, the tree is not an evergreen that I am planting under... I didn't know it had to be for shade lovers... they don't grow in the winter.. why Sorry to sound dumb.. but I am confused by this. lol But you are correct that it will get some morning and early evening sun.. but not very much.. so part shade it is! *salutes* So what is part shade? lol

I am also not understanding what you mean about protecting the trunk of the tree so as not to 'raise' the soil there. I have the old base of the flower garden there now.. and I added soil to it to fill it to the top.. and it is around the trunk of the tree.. is that what you mean??? why Sorry again. rspb

I don't know what 'type' of garden I like.. I have no idea what a cottage or knot gardens are.. *sounds more and more dumb by the minute, hangs head in shame* tears You also refer to an outdoor room and an enclosed garden.. this will be neither.. providing I know what you are talking about. lol

I would like to get started NOW.. I don't want to wait til spring.. I am excited and impatient.. so, yeah.

Instead of taking up the existing grass, I will probably lay newspaper and add soil to the bottom tier just as I did the top tier.. and start fresh that way. I will be adding mulch also.

You asked if there was a certain plant type or color I like.. well.. not really knowing that much about shade plants, I DO like bleeding hearts.. my dad used to grow them, and they make me think of him. Other than that, not really.. I like ferny, lush.. colorful.. *shrugs* What are some annual shade loving plants.. or are there any?

Wow.. this post is long.. sorry. But thanks for the help you guys!!! I need it!!! kissie



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If you raise the soil around the trunk of a tree you risk it dying. One of the other gardeners will have to come up with the name of the disease. But the way to fix it is to put some solid edging a couple of inches out from around the trunk. This lets you raise the bed without putting the tree in danger.

Dappled shade, I'm in a warmer zone so it's probably more important for my garden. I have maple providing my shade. But by the time it leafs out my shade plants are already up. So I have the taller plants on the west side to shade the columbine and hosta and my building to shade from the east. So although the plants get full midday sun they don't get it for very long until the maple leafs out.

If you are going to buy potted plants you just have to use care during the transplanting. Either transplant early in the morning or in the late evening or on an overcast day. You don't want to do it when it is bright and sunny. Remember your new transplants will need more water than your other plants for about 30 days.

Even though it is July I would still leave the plants in their pots for a few days before transplanting. And I would fertilize them when I got them home. That way the fertilizer can work into the plant and give it extra strength to fight off transplant shock it will go through a few days later when you transplant.


There are a lot of great bleeding hearts for you to choose from in your zone.

You can also plant money plant if you want to. I love it but then it was around when I was a kid and I love it for dried arrangements.

Ferns like the Japanese Painted Ferns would do well and meet all your requirements except being annuals.

Begonia tuberosa Fortuna Peach Shades - Considered a half hardy perennial.

Begonia Chanson Duo

Begonia davisii

Impatiens

Balsa

Foxglove but they move and are biennial not annuals. They bloom second year.

Coleus - This is actually a tropical plant but if you are willing to wait until your night time temperatures don't dip below 55 you can plant them outside and they are colorful and some are nicely lacy.

Browallia

Lobelia

Torenia or wishbone flower

Viola x williamsiana Singing the Blues

And these full sun flowers can frequently take part shade: alyssum, flowering tobacco, nasturtium, pansy, periwinkle, pinks, and salvia.

I hope you find something that will work for you.

A knot garden is rather formal and the edges of the geometrical shape is outlined in some kind of evergreen short bush or other plant. Then inside the shapes annuals or herbs are planted to provide color and interest.

A cottage garden is a garden with a variety of different plants all planted in a rather disorganized manner to create an almost wild look. Hollyhocks and other tall spiral shaped plants work well in these gardens.

An enclosed or outdoor room is exactly what you are thinking I am sure. It is surrounded by hedges or fences that close it off from the space around it.

Good luck with your garden.













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Oh dear.. TK, I know you are helping, but now I am scared to death that I will have killed this tree. There has been a raised flower bed around it, directly against it for about 2 years now. nervous This is our ONLY shade tree.. we built in the middle of a hay field, so yeah. I am thinking of nixing the whole idea now. I don't know what to do. I don't really have room to build a tree well as what is technically the proper way to do it.. 2-3 feet it said. (an article I found online) And I doubt I can just plant in the ground around it due to the roots being very close to the top of the soil..at least some of them are.. why So now what do I do?? tears

Today I bought 6 Astilbe, 4 double impatiens, 2 regular impatiens, a japanese fern and a dragon ear begonia I think it is called.. getting ready for my shade garden.. and now I don't know if there is even gonna BE a shade garden. *sigh* badday

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If the dirt has been there two years it is probably fine at it's current height. Just don't raise it if you can avoid it. I don't know about having to go out 2 feet. I would thing about 6 inches away from the trunk in all directions would be plenty.


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Move the dirt away from the trunk of the tree for at least 6 to 8 inches so that it is at it's normal level.

I did the same, I planted an ornamental apple tree then decided to make a raised bed so the level of the tree is the same and it slowly slopes up as the bed gets extended. It makes a water well around the tree.

I am slowly extending out the raised bed a couple of feet a year.


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You've gotten lots of good suggestions for shade plants (I jotted down a few myself!), so, I'd like to make a 'design' suggestion...with your tiers around the tree and opportunity to use your verticle area, it makes me think of the Hanging Gardens of Babalon (is that right?...one of the 8 acient wonders?) anyway, you have your foreground (ground level) where mosses and ferns tucked here and there in your timbers (are you going to reuse the timbers?), mix in lovely cascading plants for flowers and or foilage in both tiers, top tier maybe something a bit vine-y with as light a color as you can get (it will look great against the dark wood after a rain), then suspend a few hanging pots from the branches, keeping 'verticle' bringing the eye literly from the ground up. Keep in mind many of your hanging plants will not be seen from above,so select those plants with what will be seen hanging. Some lobelia, bridal veil, small leaf ivy. To compete with the canopy of your tree, the hanging plants will have to have something about them that will distinguish them from an already green background, flowers or verigation should do, but leaf size would also work. Large leaves of devil's ivy? Reddish leaves? Sorry to ramble. Once I get going...


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Wow.. I just found this thread from last year.. and I am reviving it! I hope that is ok.. Thank you Julianne for your suggestions.. that sounds awesome! I am not sure why I left this thread just hanging like this. I actually planted several things.. all the above plants that I bought.. and it looked quite nice.. I didn't get any pics though.. shame on me. I am curious to see how things come back this year.. the astilbe and ferns are perennials.. that might be all.. I can't remember.. but if so, I will just go buy some more annuals.. or more perennials.. I got started so late in the season last year that most plants were picked over.

I really would love to plant at least one bleeding heart.. they make me think of my Dad.. he had them in a shade garden at his house.. he is no longer with us. tears There were also some other suggestions that I think I am going to look up and jot down so I don't forget them. And I will definitely be adding pictures this year!!

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Good subject. As many mentioned before, there are a variety of plants that do well in partial or full shade. If some of the plants will get morning and afternoon sun, plant the partial shade variety. Most plants come with those little plastic info sticks but I also have made a list of plants that I know will do good in my zone, soil, and conditions.

I like the idea of the two tiers, sounds pretty. Julianne really made some good comments about using vertical focals. I also hand baskets from my little cherry shade tree but I have to be careful that they aren't too heavy since the branches aren't thick.

Bleeding hearts do well in partial/full shade and so many varities to pick. They do die back at least one month after flowering, so keep that in mind for the surrounding plants as they can help to fill in the area when they grow/bloom.

Here is a list of what I have:

Bleeding heart, astilbe, columbine, lung wort [pulmonaria], violets, creeping flox, hosta, ferns, and for annuals coleus and impatiens. The areas that get morning/late afternoon sun are planted with the partial shade varities. lily of the valley at the base of a taller plant [i have mine around an old tea rose] is lovely but they spread by root so you need to use the plastic barrier to contain. We just mow it down once the leaves start yellowing.

Last summer I also started another bed under a cedar tree. The tree is on a downward slope with a solid fence between my yard and the cedar. Therefore there is no worry about soil around the tree base itself; it's more like a wedge garden! I used two layers of landscape timbers. Filled it with some great dirt...but didn't have time to plant too much. Did add some vinca and pachysandra, added some begonia and impatiens, but it wasn't full. This year I'll add some of the other plants I mentioned from my other garden.

I have also planted day lily, bulbs, oreintal lillies, and anything that I wanted to try which could tolerate partial shade. Some don't bloom as much, some have better color or less color. It's just all fun.

I'll try to get some photos somewhere and post so you can see.

Also check out some online garden areas: I use Wildflower Farm from CT. and Wiseacre which is Adirndack based [upstate NY] besides bunches of others. Do a google search for plants>shade loving and you'll be amazed at what you find.

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Thank you Jolanna and Bill! What a wealth of information! That is why I love it here! kissie

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Let me see if this works. You should be able to see some of the spring pics from last year. Unfortunately I can't find some other summer ones..but I'll keep looking.
http://www.flickr.com/gp/9738738@N08/8St611

Last edited by SBJolanna; Feb 23rd, 2008 at 08:57 AM. Reason: url
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Oh your pictures are wonderful!! Thank you for sharing!! flwr That is your SHADE garden? I didn't know you could do Tulips in the shade!! I love Tulips.. though I don't have any.. long story made short, I planted bulbs and they just don't do well.. barely come up.. I think I might have put them too deep. =(

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You can plant any spring flowering bulb under trees....by the time the tree leafs out, the bulbs are getting past their prime ..of course it depends on your zone. These bulbs started blooming in April going into late May so they were long done by the time the Tree really started shading. The tree is a cherry..and has been pruned over the years so it's not a dense shade until June/July.

I plant bulbs on the north and east side of my house [the steps are on east side as well as that garden]. The get enough sun early morning, then some late afternoon and bloom very nicely. The gladioli didn't do so well when I tried them in another area as it was way too shady apparently..but also that year we had lots of rain so not sure if I lost them to rot.

Joy

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Oh that is a good point.. I guess I never thought about it like that.. lol I love tulips and daffodils.. I really need to get me some more in the ground this fall.


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