Saturday, March 21, 2020

Installing a new shade garden


This year, I am putting in two new gardens.  One (the solar garden) is in the hottest, driest part of the yard.  With little to no shade in our yard, this environment I am very familiar with.  However, there is also a small sliver of the back yard that is pretty shaded.  Some parts are completely shade, some gets some morning light, and some parts get afternoon light.  I am less familiar (or successful) with this area.  But, in my quest to convert our water-hungry lawn into native plants, I thought I'd try to convert a portion of the side fence.
Three columbines and a (now) blooming mock orange.
One of the things I have never really liked about the back yard is that it is, in essence, one big square, with shrubs and flowers around the edges.  When the kids were younger, I couldn't even do an Easter Egg hunt or play hide and seek, because there was nowhere to hide!

So, with this garden, I decided to enclose a large area, and put a small path through it, that would lead to chairs.  Kyle and I love to bird watch, and we have found that this area works well to see the birds, but not disturb them.  So I dug up lots of grass and weeds, added lots of compost and put down ten flagstones to make a path through it all.  I have been slowly collecting plants to put in this area, and this week, I finally got them in the ground.  Some are new to me, some are old favorites.
A new, large leopard plant, alongside my oak leaf hydrangea

Leopard Plant: Farfugium japonicum  (previiously know as Ligularia)
I saw this plant at a local elementary last year, and fell in love with it,  I am not sure why, but it reminds me of an Alice in Wonderland plant.  It is a full shade plant that requires a bit of water to get established.  I have seen how it droops when it gets direct sun in the mid day.  

Abelia 'Edward Goucher':  This is the first shrub in the garden, and I wanted a largish evergreen bush to shade the chairs from the road.  I know absolutely nothing about Abelia.  Well, I am not sure if I do.  I have some plants that came with the original landscaping... they may be abelias. (Edited to add:  Yep, same plant as in the landscaper built garden in front of the garage.  I feel alittle silly, as I now realize this is the what the oldest shrubs that came with the lot are!)  This is the the plant info sticker says:  Size:  5' x 5'  Growth Medium  Exposure:  Sun to Part shade.  Semi evergreen shrub with glossy green leaves and  little pale pink flowers in spring.  Very adaptable, but more sun means denser foliage and more blooms.  Also performs better in amended garden soil.
A new abelia, youpon holly, near an existing Beauty Berry

Sweet Mock Orange - Philadelphus Coronarius
Size:  10' x 8'  Growth:  Medium
Exposure:  AM Sun / Part Shade
Lovely deciduous shrub with fragrant white blooms in late spring.  Adaptable to any well-drained soil but best if given rich, organically amended, moist soil.  Blooms on previous year's growth so pruning advised after blooming.  Native to southeastern Europe.

Texas Gold Columbine - Aquilegia chrysantha "Texas Gold"
24 - 30" x 15"  Growth:  Fast
Exposure:  Sun to part shade
Tough and showy perennial with soft, grey-green foliage and taller stems of big three inch golden yellow blooms in the late spring.  Deadhead for more blooms.
A new large Japanese Aralia with some transplanted
Heartleaft Skullcap

I really, really want to grow some columbine.  I have killed at least three years worth of this plant. But as I learn more and become more experienced, I keep hoping I will be able to get this guy to grow.  It calls itself a 'tough and showy perennial'.  The only thing about this plant that is tough (for me), is the ability for it to live!  But, I am trying three more.  I got large ones this time, hoping that they have a better root system to make it through.

Tropical Sage 'Red' Native - Savlia Coccinea 'Red'
Size:  2-3' x 2-3'  Growth:  Fast
Exposure:  Sun to Bright shade
Shrubby perennial with scented foliage and bright red tubular flowers spring to fall.  Deer and drought resistant once established.  Prune back periodically to keep more dense and tidy.  Often reseeds for a few volunteers but not aggressive.  Attracts hummingbirds
A new Tropical sage and Jerusalem sage with an
existing fig tree behind it

I believe this is the same plant I was gifted with by a neighbor that is in the front year.  I picked it because it is a red bloomer in shade, and the place I put it in sometimes is shaded, but I believe in the summer it will get more sun, so I thought this plant would do well in all seasons, given the mixture of light.  I bought two plants.

Texas Betony - Stachys coccinea
I bought three small pots of this plant on a whim.  I bought one small plant from the clearance rack at Lowe's last year, and it got through the incredible drought of last year.  And is already springing back this year. Seems like a winner to me, so I thought I'd
An existing crepe myrtle with some new Betony plants
give it another shot...  This will be more shaded than the front, so we will see how it does.

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