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The Shade Garden

Maintenance of a Shade Garden

Maintaining a shade garden is the same as maintaining a perennial garden.  (See the perennial garden brochure for more details).  One problem that is especially difficult in shady areas is fungus.  To avoid fungal diseases such as powdery mildew, always water plants in the morning so that the water will evaporate from the foliage quickly.

Why Plant a Shade Garden?

A shade garden can be a fantastic place to relax away from the sun on hot summer days.  On days when it would be too hot to garden in the sun, it is cool enough to work in a shade garden. Turfgrass often performs poorly in deep shade, and it can be difficult to mow under trees due to the debris and trunks. Planting a shade garden in that area will beautify the area and stabilize the soil. There are challenges in shade gardening, such as tree roots competing with your plants for nutrients and water.  However, low light and competition from trees are not obstacles to many shade plants that have adapted to living in a woodland environment.

Our shade garden at The Learning Gardens is located under the four tall pine trees between the parking lot and Route 113.  The garden was designed to demonstrate the variety of herbaceous perennials that perform well in shade or partial shade.  Also, the shade garden is often very wet in the spring.  The plants in this garden were chosen to withstand the high moisture in addition to the lack of sunlight. When the garden was planned, the first step was to map the course of the shade over the entire day.  Every hour the position of the shade was sketched.  By mapping the shady areas, the number of hours of light in each location in the garden could be determined, and plants selected accordingly.

The shade garden demonstrates the design concept of planting in masses.  Each type of plant is grouped with others of the same type in order to create a visual impact.  This allows the visitor to notice every species of plant in the garden.  Conventional shade plants, such as hostas and ferns, have been combined with less well-known shade and partial shade plants including Pulmonaria (Lungwort), Brunnera (Bugloss), and Aconitum (Monkshood).