Oh dear - green and white still doesn't cut the mustard

Campanula UK Z8May 29, 2013

This gardening in woodland lark is worrying to me for many reasons - mainly, the vast amounts of totally weedfilled space. Of course, this is such a huge problem that my overworked brain cannot comprehend the magnitude and so am in denial, pondering things I might have some small chance of actually doing.....such as introducing colour. Now, whilst I opine that green and white are so serene, so grown-up, so elegant, none of these characteristics have ever been evident in my gardening - which hinges on the positively lurid (albeit in minutely observed colour coding). So, what colourful things will grow in dappled (optimist!) shade, nice rich friable well-drained alkaline soil. Although my soul yearns for meconops, again, the alkalinity defeats the lusting after blue poppies....but the modest little welsh poppy, M.cambrica...and the yellow stylophorum. Purples are easy with aquilegias, foxgloves. So what other tough perennials can I grow to illuminate the green coolth. I have also been sowing cranesbills and a really terrific looking angelica purpurea although, having waffled endlessly on the rose forums about my abiding love for umbellifers, it seems you can definitely have too much of a good thing - the hogweed (not the lethal giant type thankfully) is chest high throughout the entire wood - I have taken to whacking a path with a vicious implement like a hybrid hurly stick and machete (and sharpened to a killer edge on my little bench grinder). Also green and white, bladder campions - although plenty of red campion too, and nettle, bramble (dispiriting, listing these thugs - I will need some serious advice). Also, any suggestions need to be equally oafish bullies so delicate little treasures (which I had coveted such as jeffersonia, erythroniums, primulas, cardamines) may still be some way down the road.....and preferably feasible from seed.

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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)


I also have a variegated weigela that grows - and flowers - surprisingly well under the edge of the white pine canopy where it only gets an hour or two of sun in the morning when the sun is low enough in the sky to reach under the edge of the canopy . That gives me both green and white and color! It'd be worth a try in a bright shade area or a small clearing.

Dogwood varieties with pink flowers perhaps?

    Bookmark   May 29, 2013 at 3:51PM
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marquest(z5 PA)

Calla lilies should do good in the shade. You might have to water them in the beginning but they do good in pots for me without a log of water and I keep them in my shade garden.

Jasmine should grow in your region. The yellow bloomer blooms a long time.

Bellflowers, Columbine, Forget-Me-Not. I do not know if you are looking for bulbs but. The last house I had was all shade and I even grew Asiatic and Oriental lilies mixed in with my hostas and fern.

Do not forget to throw in ornaments. It is amazing what a couple of bright color pots can do wonders.

I saw this in the junk forum. Just painting planters a bright color and planting some ivy in them would be bright.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2013 at 7:54PM
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Campanula UK Z8

well hey - a couple of suggestions from the most egregious purveyors of that very same green foliage style I most worry about. Thanks guys.
Not entirely sure about the mexican pot, Marquest, but I really like the other one.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2013 at 11:19PM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

Hey, campanula, woodland reality strikes! Especially this year. I'm looking out at a wall of green and that's just in the garden. I haven't been up to the wood in a while but I'm pretty sure a machete will be needed.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2013 at 4:24AM
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I don't know how many of these will grow in alkaline soil since I have acid soil, but here are some that grow and flower in a fair amount of shade:
climbing & shrubby hydrangeas
Heuchera & Heucherella (flowers in pinks and leaves in many warm colors) Are these too small?
Hepatica (though this is rather small and delicate)
Cimicifuga (now listed as Actea in some but not all nurseries) - some of the dark red leaved ones have pink flowers
Kerria japonica
Thalictrum/meadow rue - some have yellow or lavendar flowers
Ligularia Yellow flowers, and some variety have reddish tones to the dark leaves
Dicentra spectabalis/bleeding heart
Mahonia - some varieties have quite showy flowers and it will grow in alkaline soil

Some other than white or green foliage:
Japanese painted ferns often have red tones
Gold Hakone grass

    Bookmark   May 30, 2013 at 9:44PM
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After reading your post, the first thing that comes to mind is Polemonium/Jacob's Ladder--it blooms sort of lavender in late Spring here (mid-to-late May; it's blooming now here) with delicate, almost fern-like foliage. Japanese painted fern doesn't bloom but is a nice textural contrast to other shade lovers.

I like the interesting foliage of Virginia knotweed/Polygonum virginianum for contrast--it has an interesting rusty-red chevron on each variegated green & white leaf, altho' it's a late-season, part shade bloomer with insignificant cranberry-red flowers.

Trycirtis hirta/toad lily is completely different from many other shade-loving perennials and has interesting blooms--the ones I've planted in full shade are thriving & multiplying each year. They offer very late season white blooms with purple speckles--the bees LOVE them.

Alchemilla mollis/Lady's mantle & Heuchera/Coral Bells 'Purple Palace' put on a season-long show in both my part sun & full shade beds every year without requiring any attention from me, making them two of the most carefree perennials in my garden. In my experience, neither are bothered by pests. The Heuchera offers a decided contrast in foliage color while the Lady's Mantle offers a foliage contrast in shape and texture that is pleasing season-long.

I won't discount Brunnera macrophylla 'Jack Frost' for tiny, true blue flowers in early spring but it's been my experience the plants are prey to some sort of disease or infestation that turns a certain portion of the foliage dark after they bloom and IMO renders them less attractive as a result (which, thankfully, the surrounding hostas soon conceal).

    Bookmark   May 30, 2013 at 10:35PM
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Campanula UK Z8

Thank you for the suggestions...and reading them, I am astonished at how many of these are lurking somewhere in my garden or allotment especially things like polemonium (I have a very lovely sterile long flowering one), various heucheras (like all of us), heaps of alchemilla and hellebores (obviously, once you get one!). Also, after a visit to a famous woodland garden last year, I came away with many little envelopes of seeds (thalictrums, many aconitum (including the subtle but delightful 'Ivorine'). Astilbes have never d9ne much in my sunny sandy soil but am thinking that I can go overboard on these and.....geum rivale, another genus lost to hopeless futility.
Oh, hepaticas..........if I ever found a buried hoard of treasure in the woods, I would be getting many of these most fabulous plants. A few years ago, I visited a hepatica nursery - you know, those terribly expensive jewels from Japan - and practically had to be dragged away drooling and craving.
Another fail has always been primula so I am hoping to be able to establish many of the candelabra types (P.bulleyana, beesianum etc.)

Amazing how a few good ideas gets the brain cells activating again. Course, we are back at the woods this evening after several rainy days - where the weeds will have doubled in size - so must keep these ideas in mind and not despair at the seemingly hopeless task.

Little steps, one at a time, going forward.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2013 at 5:31AM
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marquest(z5 PA)

Thanks guys.
Not entirely sure about the mexican pot, Marquest, but I really like the other one.

I know campanula it is about personal taste. I try to put some hardscape with color where I do not get sun to draw the eye into the dark areas.

The Mexican pots are dear to my heart because they were art pieces my daughter gave me for Mother's day and Birthdays. She knows my love of pots. If I need something to pump up the garden my go to solution is a distinct or conversation flower pot.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2013 at 8:45AM
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