A Corner Shade Garden

A Corner Shade Garden

This past weekend I put together a small corner shade garden. We have a garden spot on one side of our house that only receives 3-4 hours of morning sun per day. We thought that the spot would be a perfect candidate for a shade garden.

When I think of shade gardens I think of foliage. Colorful flowers don’t come to mind although there are some out there that will do well in shade. Things like hostas, heucheras, and ferns seem to enter my head first. The hostas and heucheras do flower but are recognized more by their fantastic foliage than their petal prowess.

I began laying the groundwork for the shade garden last summer. I removed most of the sod and mulched with a hardwood mulch. Unfortunately I didn’t have a weed barrier layer and many of the weeds I removed came back. I took care of many of them this weekend with the primary pain being the wild strawberries. They are very easy to pull if you grab them from the crown but multiply rapidly if they are left alone for a while. Each plant is capable of becoming it’s own mother plant.

We planted several hostas, heucheras and caladiums last year. Two of the hostas are ‘Patriots’ which I purchased for about $2 each at the end of the season. The heucheras are the ‘Palace Purple’ variety which were also a discount purchase. I think I picked up 4 of them for around $5. (I know most people don’t recommend buying plants in July and August but you can find some really good deals then!)

In the back is a bush that we have never liked there, I believe it is a privet bush.

I removed the bush and found a pot bound root system and a tag that said $30.00 on it. Interesting.

The one good thing the bush did do was hide the gas meter from view.

Since I’m not one to throw any anything usable I transplanted the bush to a spot in the back yard between our yard and a neighbor’s yard. I hope it does OK there but I’m afraid it may suffer some transplant shock.

My wife and I have loved Oak Leaf Hydrangeas for a while and really wanted to put one in somewhere. The shady corner seemed like a perfect fit and it became our replacement for the bush. It isn’t any special variety just simply Hydrangea quercifolia.

Our ‘Patriot’ hostas from last season are doing fantastic. You can see in the next two pictures for yourself. I like the dark green foliage with the white variegation. I can’t wait until these hostas multiply and fill up our shady garden.

Here is one of our new hostas called ‘Ginko Craig’ (Hosta sieboldii). It is shorter than the ‘Patriots’ will be as it will max out around 12 inches. The narrow leaves (at least for hostas) is what attracted us to this find at the Bloom ‘N Garden Expo.

Here is a rather strange looking hosta, at least at the moment. Its foliage is very crinkled on the edges. I’m not sure if that’s the variety or if there is something wrong with it. It came from a box so there’s no telling, at least not yet! It didn’t come up last year so I’m just happy to see it.

Here’s another expo find. I originally thought this was a heuchera, it looks pretty darn close don’t you think? It didn’t come with a label and the girl we bought it from couldn’t tell us anything about the name of it. I did some digging and found it was actually a Heucherella which is a cross between a Heuchera (Coral bells) and Tiarella (Foam flower). I think this particular one is called ‘Stoplight’.

The foliage is obviously what brought it to my attention. I thought the red around the veins and the lime green coloring was very unique and would contrast well with the ‘Palace Purple’ heuchera. To the left is a picture of our ‘Palace Purple’ heuchera’s leaves. Nice and dark.

With all these plants I still felt that I felt we needed a little more to add into the shade garden to fill in some gaps and create a border. I picked up two $.97 6 packs of coleus and 6 caladiums for $1 each. The caladiums don’t look like much right now but they will fill in as the season progresses. Each little pot had several bulbs in them which I moved around to different places to maximize ground coverage. I also had several predominantly green coleus plants that I raised from seed.

Here is how the corner shade garden looks right now. Please keep in mind that several things still need to be done, like mulching! The coleus is rounding out the edges of the garden but I’d like to add another type of edging to define the bed from the lawn. In time the hydrangea will grow much taller and cover the bare wall behind it while the hostas and heucheras will fill in the gaps. Here are two more things I had to think about:

1) where the meeter reader could step
2) where I could step to get to the water faucet.

I’ll be putting in large, flat, natural looking stones to serve as stepping stones for both paths.

This little garden is very young and I’ll share its progress with you as I go!


Dave has written GrowingTheHomeGarden.com since 2007. He gardens on an acre and a half where he raises his 4 children. He enjoys growing vegetables, herbs, and propagating plants. Dave has a side business growing and selling heirloom vegetables and herb plants through Blue Shed Gardens and works as a real estate agent in Spring Hill, TN.

This Post Has 13 Comments

  1. That looks so good! You are well on your way with a nice shade garden…

  2. Great idea for a shade garden. I like your choice of plants. Enough color contrast to really stand out. Let us take a peek later after it’s grown some.

  3. It looks very nice Dave! Nice plant selections, nice colors. I especially love the hydrangea. We have oak leafs at the the nursery where I work this year. I wonder how long I’ll hold out before getting one. . .

    I’m very impressed with the bargains you got.

  4. Dave, It is always exciting to start a new bed and you have combined the textures and colors nicely…One comment the species Gail Oakleaf Hydrangea in my garden is now over 8 feet tall and 5 feet wide! It took a bit of time but they can get big…also they ground layer nicely so you can propagate them!

  5. Your new garden looks as if it will become a lovely, shady nook. Nicely done. 🙂

  6. Hi Dave – I like your shade garden. If you wanted some flowers to compliment the foilage your could try primulas, Arum Lilies or Solomons Seal. The last two have striking foilage which would compliment your Hostas and Heucheras.

  7. Hi Dave, there is a hosta virus going around that is highly contagious. If you have a few minutes you should google it and then go look at your strange hosta. If you think it has the virus you should get it out quickly before it infects your lovely ‘Patriot’ varieties. It could also just be a bit more tender, have you had cold nights lately? Some Hosta don’t handle a frost well and others are ok.

  8. Looks great. That oakleaf was an excellent replacement shrub. I love them too. Once it gets going and if you take it easy on the mulch, it will reward you with tons of babies. I had 24 around my one last fall! They were all moved and are growing fast. Yours will too. Love the ‘Stoplight’.

  9. Hi Dave, here is the link for the knot garden post http://fairegarden.blogspot.com/2007/12/knot-garden.html . Blogger never lets these links work so you will have to type in the thing if you want to.

    I have been fighting those wild strawberries everywhere, especially in the front where I havn’t weeded in several years. Ugh!

    Your shady nook looks great. You have chosen good plants that blend well for the area. You might want to think about more evergreen plants, or plant bulbs there for early spring :->

  10. Beautiful! I just love oak leaf hydrangea, and those patriot hostas are absolutely gorgeous when they get big! I really need to divide some of mine. Your shade garden is already very pretty ~ do share pics later in the year!

  11. Thank you everyone for your comments! I can’t wait to see the oak leaf hydrangea fill out and provide those little seedlings.


    You have no excuses, go get an Oakleaf hydrangea!


    Thanks for the flower suggestions!


    I’ll look into that virus, we don’t like viruses around here!


    Thanks for the link to the knot garden. It looks great! A nice use of stone for the border too.

  12. I was wondering about your thoughts on a honeysuckle tree(not sure the tech name) I have one at my house, it was there when we bought the house. We didn’t like the limbs going all the way to the gound like its a weeper. So we cut them and now it stays nice and high so we can mow around it easily.

  13. Sarah, I have several honeysuckle bushes and like them. Pruning them will not hurt them at all. Look around as you may have some babies coming up as well since the birds eat the berries and plant them around. They can get quite big. I dig the babies and move them or give them to friends.

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