Thursday, July 14, 2011


When we first moved into our home, the front "garden" consisted of patchy grass bordered by the infamous ivy that spread up onto the house and into the grass. We were fortunate enough to have a mature, majestic oak tree, but we were perplexed about how to create a nice shade garden. That darn ivy was creeping everywhere.

Ferns, hostas, European ginger
The first thing, obviously, that we did was to start ripping out the ivy. It took quite a while and we still, to this day, have a bit here and there. Then we added a slow growing, lacey Japanese maple tree. Hydrangeas followed; by that I mean we rarely just purchased hydrangea bushes at a nursery, but rather we would buy small flowering plants that you see around Mother's Day, cut the blossoms and use them in floral arrangements and then plant the remainder- pretty much a little stub with a few leaves. Each and every one took and that way we were able to actually see the flower in person before we planted it.

Painted fern
Since then, we have added many ferns and hostas, which do fab in the dappled light. A tuck in here and there and this is where we are at now. My favorite part of the shade garden is its peacefulness and coolness on a hot day.

 I love these funky ferns!

This is a wild orchid which has self-sowed around the garden. I first thought it was a weed, but it surprised us! The flowers stalk is only seven or eight inches high, the plant very unassuming. (You can see the plant in the second photo, left front, right before the European gingers.)

What plants do you prefer in the shadier areas of your garden?


  1. Hi Ann, I love that picture of the ivy covered bench. I'm also getting rid of my ivy , it is trying to come through the windows and into the house. Your shade garden is beautiful, so much variety in both color and texture.
    One of my most favorite shade plants is Meadow Rue, the one with the little yellow flowers not the tall one with purple flowers (although they are also pretty). The yellow Meadow Rue is very invasive...just the way I like it. It is easy to remove (unlike ivy) if it ends up in the wrong place.

  2. We are crazy about hydrangeas, caladiums and all types of ferns.

  3. Oh Annie, what a beautiful lush garden and orchids!!!!!! I love your plant combinations. I think my favourites are hellebores (we have just planted some hellebore orientalis in a plum shade) and heuchera with a deep plummy colours foliage. What a brilliant post this is, I shall enjoy reading other peoples favourites as it will give me plenty of ideas! Hugs from an old English farmhouse - Glenda xxx

  4. I love ferns, but I don't have a shady garden, our garden is full sun. I have a hosta that is sun tolerant, is doing good so far, this is the first year blooming. I really like Ivy, but I've heard is like a pest, you can't get rid of it and spreads all over. Those ferns you have in your garden are gorgeous, love the combination of colors and textures.
    Have a great day Annie.
    XXX Ido

  5. Fern - Fern - all kind of Ferns! And all varieties of Hostas!

    Unfortunately, we do not have many shady places for fern and also not quite the right soil. Hostas we only have in pots because the snails, particularly the French ones!, are just made about them!
    But we have Arums which live very happy in our poor soil and in shade.

    You are very lucky with your beautiful garden.

  6. Ann. This is all just beautiful. I wish I had some shade , but the entire landscape front and back is full sun. I adore hydrangeas. I have the Endless summer that can take sun. Would love the luscious shade varieties.



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