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Old 04-16-2013, 11:27 AM
 
Location: Summerville, SC
1,149 posts, read 3,721,213 times
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Basic info - zone 8a, dappled sun at best (I think a black oak nearby is causing the shade, as you can see from the seedlings I need to rip up). No problem growing azaleas, loropetalum, red tips (ugh) or monkey grass. Right now, I have my kids' playhouse in the center - moved a darling bird bath to make room - but I would like to start making more of the (usually mulched) borders, particularly under the red tips, and maybe removing some azaleas.

I really think this spot has SUCH potential. My soil is excellent - it's loamy, drains well but keeps somewhat moist, slightly acidic. I have two pictures, mostly to show you the first bed I'd like to work on. This fence is on the south side of my property (facing north), and wraps around to the west for maybe 15 feet (where the loropetalum are), then is bordered on the north (where I am taking the picture from) by my screened in porch, where the azaleas are. It's also bordered by azaleas to the east, with a little pathway to the rest of the backyard (you can kinda see it in the second picture, but it's pretty much just a little area secluded from the rest of the yard). You can also see what I mean by dappled sun - this was taken around 12:30pm.





Since we use the porch often, I'd like some options that are fragrant, and I really like what I see from moonlight garden inspiration photos. It jus seems hard to find things that are good for this zone, not invasive, and are safe-ish for the kids (I can deal with thorny plants, but not poisonous ones like Carolina Jessamine). Ripping out some of the azaleas and the loropetalum are not issues, I have way too many on my property as it is, but I really don't know what to replace them with that will thrive. I'm thinking it might be fairly difficult to remove the red tips - or at least might have to wait till the fall. Any suggestions?
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Old 04-16-2013, 11:31 AM
 
Location: Summerville, SC
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Also, I have been researching shade gardens for months now, but depending on where I go, light requirements seem to differ, ugh.

I've considered these, for instance, though I've never seen them before, but some people say they thrive in the shade, while other sites say they need sun:

Daphne Carol Mackie -- Bluestone Perennials, Inc
Actaea simplex 'Hillside Black Beauty' PP#9,988
February 2012 Plant Profile: Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Dawn’ UW Botanic Gardens News
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Old 04-16-2013, 01:09 PM
 
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When you check different references they may not agree fully because they may be describing local conditions. An astilbe might be able to thrive in all sun conditions in the middle of Massachusetts or upstate NY but it would be fried to a crisp and probably have a disease or two in your garden by August unless it got more shade than sun, or at the least was protected from direct sun from noon on.


Daphne 'Carol Mackie'
On the face of it you already know it is borderline OK in zone 8 (cold hardiness) but if you are zone 8B that means you need to also check heat zones. The recommendation is heat zones is 1-7 which leaves out much of SC unless you are in the Piedmont area up around Greenville and closer to the mountains in the northwestern part of the state. Another reference is that it grows well in Sunset Zones 2-17 (some areas not included). South Carolina is predominantly 31 and 32. Judging just by this alone I think it might be better to look at other candidates suitable to South Carolina.


You can do the same thing and look at all the references for Actea simplex (aka Bugbane). It too is "up to" zone 8 in many descriptions, and one mentions 9 (http://www.perennials.com/plants/cim...ck-beauty.html). This would make it borderline OK for you. It is slow to grow at first and needs careful watering to keep it from drying out and tends to need sun protection at the southern portion of its growing area. It could work in your shade garden but may be more work than you want because of the moisture needs.


Only the viburnum is discussed in the Clemson Landscape plants for Home gardens site. Clemson should be the first place you check to see if a plant or shrub can survive in your region. HGIC 1075 Viburnum : Extension : Clemson University : South Carolina Of the three choices it is the most likely to grow well in your garden.

The complete list of shrubs is here: Overview : Extension : Clemson University : South Carolina It is frustrating to see the many choices for gardens in the UK or for OR and WA and learn we can't have those pretty plants because it is too hot, too dry, or the soil is not right.

To avoid finding great plants only to find out they would be difficult to grow in your yard start with nurseries and catalogs that cater to southern gardeners. Here are some samples:

Carolina Wild Native Wildflower Nursery

Sunlight Gardens Mail Order Wildflower and Native Perennials Nursery
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Old 04-16-2013, 04:14 PM
 
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You can start with different varieties of hostas, some giant and some small. Link: Giant Hostas - Add Jumbo Hosta Cultivars 30 Inches And Taller - Big Hosta Plants Make An Impact

Also, add varieties of fern. Link: Fern Tips: Selecting The Right Fern For Your Home, Yard or Garden

Add impatiens on the border for color.
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Old 04-16-2013, 05:51 PM
 
Location: too far from the sea
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The main challenge, I think, is to have something colorful or in bloom at all times.

One suggestion for shade is a Japanese maple, maybe a dwarf variety, maybe weeping. It would be a centerpiece for your garden. The leaves are finely cut and they usually turn bright red in the fall. They are expensive but well worth it and they are hardy in zone 8.

You could plant wild geraniums. They look bright and pretty and they are small, not like the usual geraniums that we use so much. They are perennials.

You could use a ground cover in some areas. A good one is periwinkle/vinca because it has shiny green leaves and also gets flowers on it. It will grow in zone 8 and it doesn't spread invasively, although you do have to trim it once in a while. There are lots of other ground covers and they are supposed to spread and cover the ground but some just spread too fast and you will have a lot of work controlling them.

Another thing that can look really nice in a natural, shaded area is rocks. Strategically placed rocks with moss growing on them can look nice and they can make nice crevices for planting your flowers.

Any flowers that are native to the woods of your area should do well. In the back, up against the fence you could put any azaleas that you have taken out. They'll make a nice background for the lower plants and will cover up the lower part of the fence. Don't just line them up, randomly space them so they look natural.

You can do a lot with a shade garden. I remember being dismayed and thinking there was nothing I could have--wrong, thank goodness. Your garden can positively GLOW in the shade.
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Old 04-16-2013, 06:34 PM
 
Location: Out West
20,596 posts, read 15,424,228 times
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For the first time ever, I'm going to bookmark a City Data thread. I have this exact same thing going on in my backyard in an area along a fence and would love to know what works. My first attempt failed...I am...a plant murderer.

Hope to see some amazing results, OP.
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Old 04-16-2013, 07:27 PM
 
Location: N of citrus, S of decent corn
34,538 posts, read 42,708,506 times
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It looks so sweet and inviting already. I would visit all the garden centers nearby and look in their shade section and buy everything I thought was pretty in groups of 3s or 5s. Some will thrive and some will not, but building a garden is a process.

One good bit of advice I learned is to buy plants for a shade garden for the foliage. The flowers will just be an added bonus. Plants that come to mind are violets, bleeding heart, astilbe, heuchera (many different colors of foliage) brunnera....there are lots of good ones.
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Old 04-16-2013, 08:44 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gentlearts View Post
It looks so sweet and inviting already. I would visit all the garden centers nearby and look in their shade section and buy everything I thought was pretty in groups of 3s or 5s. Some will thrive and some will not, but building a garden is a process.

One good bit of advice I learned is to buy plants for a shade garden for the foliage. The flowers will just be an added bonus. Plants that come to mind are violets, bleeding heart, astilbe, heuchera (many different colors of foliage) brunnera....there are lots of good ones.
Yes, bleeding heart is a good one! Get the one that looks like a fern. The hearts aren't as shapely, but the plant lasts all season. The plant with the well defined heart-shaped flowers dies off when it gets hot.
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Old 04-17-2013, 06:11 AM
 
Location: Summerville, SC
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This is all fantastic info, thank you everyone! I also apparently need to check out heat zones and sunset zones, hmm.
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Old 04-17-2013, 08:37 AM
 
Location: WA
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I'm in the PNW so choices may be different but have a lot of shade and use different ferns, many Hostas, large hydrangeas beds, various Heucheras, some rhododendrons, and even controlled areas of ivy. The largest problem for me is that the shady areas warms later in the year so many shade tolerant plants won't come back after winter needing soil warmth in the spring.
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