What fun it is to have a whole new garden area to plant from scratch! In my large, established yard with mostly garden and little grass left, I don't get this opportunity very often any more! In fact, I think this area may be the last large-ish area I had left to plant!
The area behind the new retaining wall is very shady on the left, and a little more sunny on the right. What were my plant criteria? I wanted to put in some shrubs around the back to prevent the kids from playing back there - anything that produces berries was preferred (BTW that is more difficult to find in shade plants but made the plant selection easier). I definately wanted something evergreen to look at in the winter, and a wide variety of foliage colours and textures from perennials, of course! Here's what I ended up with:
... and closer up:
The plants are:
- 3 virburnum trilobum (american cranberry) 'Bailey Compact'. This shrub is shade tolerant but will probably produce fewer flowers and berries in shade. Nevertheless, it does have a spectactular red colour in fall, even in shade, and will definitely serve the purpose of keeping the kids from falling off the back of the wall! They will eventually get up to 1.5 m tall and wide.
- 1 virburnum lentago (nannyberry). This is a great shrub for producing berries even in shade. The bluish-black berries are supposed to be delicious, but I've not yet had any myself. Maybe next year! This shrub will have white flowers in spring, purplish-red foliage in fall, and will eventually get up to 5 m tall and 3 m wide!!
- That empty space on the right will be filled next spring with a picea pungens globosa (dwarf globe blue spruce) to meet the "something evergreen" requirement. This shrub requires more sun than the others, which it will get on the right side of this area.
- 1 tiarella 'Mystic Mist'. This perennial groundcover has great foliage colour and likes shade. I had some plants in the front garden that the hares kept nibbling to the ground until they finally died. I hope this one has a better chance in my fenced backyard!
- 3 heuchera 'Palace Purple'. These purple-leaved plants are not as fancy as some of the newer varieties you can get these days, but are tried-and-true hardy in Calgary (and way cheaper!) The dark foliage will stand out more once that blue spruce is behind them, and it also looks nice beside the burgundy veins in the tiarella. These plants spread to about 30-40 cm and are drought tolerant.
- 1 hosta 'Halcyon'. This plant is so big because I transferred it here from another area of the garden (it is over 5 years old). Its blue foliage colour will nicely repeat the colour from the blue spruce (that is, once the spruce is planted), and I love how that blue contrasts with the burgundy shades in the tiarella and heucheras.
- 1 calamgrostis acutiflora (feather reed grass) 'Avalanche'. I have some of the regular green 'Karl Foerster' variety growing in shade, so I'm hoping this variegated variety will also do well in shade. This one is a bit floppy from growing in a greenhouse but next year it should stand straight and tall, and get up to 120 cm tall.
- The existing iris germanica (bearded iris) should get enough sun here to flower, and the spiked leaves will contrast in texture with the rounded heucheras and globe spruce.
- There are some existing anemone sylvestris (windflowers) behind the hosta that can't be seen in this picture. They have lovely white flowers in spring, and do well in full shade.
- At the base of the wall, to the left of the birdbath, there is one more hosta that you can't see in these pictures. It is hosta 'Night Before Christmas'. The green and white leaves should stand out well in shade and echo the other hostas of the same colour (but forgotten variety) on the other side of the pathway. This is a fairly large variety that can eventually get over 1 m wide!!
There. New shade garden finished (for now). Now I really must concentrate on emptying that compost bin that I said was such a high priority! Planting new stuff is way more fun...