My Shade Garden

This year our shade perennials are looking fantastic.  Adequate rain and warm temperatures have combined to make it a great growing season.  Few mosquitoes are also adding the the pleasure of being outside!

First of all, my passion.  My hosta gardens.  With several hundred varieties among all of our different hosta gardens, it is hard to have a favorite.  Two that rise to the top are front and center on the side of the yard and they are Guardian Angel and Great Expectations.  Both are considered medium to large hosta plants and they are slow to medium on the growth scale.  This means that it will take several years to get a mature plant.

Guardian Angel & Great Expectations Hosta

Others grow more vigorously and mature faster.   We combine accents with rocks and garden art, and with other shade perennials.

Several years ago, one of our wholesalers gave us five perennials to do a trial with.

Aralia Sun King

The Aralia Sun King.  Even though “sun” is in the name – it is a shade perennial.  It is a large perennial – growing to 3′-4′ tall, but it is absolutely gorgeous!  We have all five planted close together and it definitely makes a statement.  The color absolutely radiates in the shade of the woods.  They are a late summer bloomer, and the blooms will give way to dark colored berries for the birds.

Aralia leaves

This is a definite winner in the world of shade perennials.

Our Ligularia “The Rocket” has been blooming for a couple of weeks now.  Tall spikes of yellow flowers offer the bees nectar.

Ligularia – “Rocket”

This is another taller perennial so it should be placed in the middle of a bed for height or along the backside / edge.   When this plant gets alot of direct sunlight, it does wilt somewhat even if it is well watered.


As soon as the sun moves around to the other side – it perks right up.

We have it planted with hostas and in with a hydrangea shrub.  The combination of colors and the bright white beacon of the hydrangea flowers light up this bed.

Quickfire Hydrangea blossoms

This is a prominent bed in our yard and we get many compliments on it.  Each fall, I cut some of the hydrangea blooms to use in holiday arrangements – both inside and out.


Two of our other shade shrubs that stand out are the Chokeberry and Elderberry.  The Chokeberry we have planted around our LP tank to help hide it.

The berries of a Viking Chokeberry

They are now getting almost tall enough to do the trick.  Hopefully, after another growing season they’ll do the job!  The berries are just ripening and the birds will have a tasty treat.

Lemon Lace Elderberry

The Lemon Lace Elderberry is another way of putting color into the shade garden.  In a hard winter, it will die down to crown and then will burst back in the spring.

Lemon Lace Elderberry

Combined with hosta, it makes a stunning combination.

We add pinks and reds to the gardens with planters of annuals.  Shade gardening is more about textures and contrasts and with some experimenting – you can have a shade garden others will envy!