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New Part-Shade/Sun Bed...What to Do?

Posted by mycitygarden 5 (My Page) on
Thu, Sep 29, 11 at 12:05

Hi, All!

I just recently enlarged this bed, and put in Endless Summer hydrangeas, variegated iris pallida, purple sensation allium (haven't gotten these bulbs yet), and digitalis grandifloria (pale yellow). Oh, and I have knockout roses and orange-y heliopsis summer nights flanking the roses.

1) I need to fill in (esp. in the way front where I have unsuccessful Hollywood heuchera...too much sun) with some low plants. The front area is more part-sun.

2) I'm also considering replacing the boule d' neige rhodies that I've cut way back (see photo) b/c they've never really done that well--for a couple of reasons. They flank the porch on either side. This area is more part-shade. The part-shade replacement bush will be behind the knockout rose...I have a 5'tall x 7'wide limitation.

Any suggestions design-wise, color-wise? I was thinking moonbeam coreopsis or some kind of cranesbill geranium, although I'd like one more compact. Moonbeam iffy? (I've heard issues). Rozanne geranium really that blue?

Other suggestions? I'm kinda stuck b/c I still "see" it as a much smaller bed & can't get my design mojo a' goin'!






Follow-Up Postings:

RE: New Part-Shade/Sun Bed...What to Do?

Rozeanne is a twiner and will twine beautifully among other plants. Its footprint is very small and yes, it's quite blue.

RE: New Part-Shade/Sun Bed...What to Do?

Just want to say I love your house. The sage green is beautiful!

RE: New Part-Shade/Sun Bed...What to Do?

Well, more info would be needed to begin with. What side of the house is this? Is there an overhang so that next to the house things have to be watered? Do you want your lattice to be visible? Are your boxwood (it appears that is what is by the steps) doing okay with the downspout right there? That downspout could make for a difficult area.

For my two cents' worth, I would remove one clump of iris right next to the walk on both sides (seems too stark and needs softening). In place, I would put some creeping thyme right next to the walk. Geranium Rozanne would look good in front or to left of your iris, as well as by the Knockouts.

Must look quite bare in winter. Depending on the sun exposure, I would opt for an upright evergreen in the corners. Or possibly a medium-height grass. You have experience with the areas, so you know what problems there are. Also, your own tastes trump everything.

RE: New Part-Shade/Sun Bed...What to Do?

Thank you all for your comments/help!

laceyvail, you have convinced me about Rozanne! I have always loved her but was afraid she wouldn't be blue enough (I think my mother got some bum plants)

magnoliaroad, thank you for your house color compliment! When I bought the house 7 years ago my friend called the color puke green & wanted to know when I was changing it!

mantis_oh, thank you for the VERY helpful comments! The site is facing south east. I agree the iris pallida look stark right now. I like the idea of the grasses...perhaps there are some that stay evergreen over the winter? My boxwoods are quite happy over the winter (one was decimated by falling snow...have to protect it this year) & the rhodies too but I struggle w/ enough acid, I think, perhaps w/ the foundation? (I do apply sulphur). The water doesn't seem to be a problem yet. I did have a problem previously but that was the sump pump pipe which I have subsequently redirected elsewhere.

I just got my purple sensation bulbs. Picture a bunch of them with the digitalis grandiflora (only 2 plants w/ basal foliage right now). What about lobelia monet moment in the fall w/ the knockout roses?

RE: New Part-Shade/Sun Bed...What to Do?

A small, variegated ornamental grass that (a) wants shade, and (b) stays green for me through the winter is Carex morrowii/Japanese sedge 'Ice Dance.' It's well-behaved and, other than a spring haircut, maintenance free, untroubled by pests or critters.

I've been told a concrete foundation leeches lime into the soil, not acid. A hydrangea that was planted too near my foundation never bloomed until I moved it 5 ft. farther away.

Other shade lovers you might consider that would add contrasting foliage are silver-leafed brunnera macrophylla/Siberian bugloss 'Jack Frost,' polemonium/Jacob's ladder, Japanese painted fern, Alchemilla mollis/lady's mantle, Hosta 'Gold Standard,' & Tricyrtis hirta/toad lily. For vertical interest, Lobelia cardinalis/cardinal flower would add a flash of scarlet to the color scheme.

RE: New Part-Shade/Sun Bed...What to Do?

If you want aggressive groundcovers that spread quickly - but don't invade or affect your larger plants - I have a few I like to use, which are common, easy to find and well-known:

Ajuga reptans var. 'Bronze Beauty' - nice dark-leafed groundcover (a mottle of dark purple and olive green leaves) that is very shade-tolerant for the areas closest to the house. Short blue flower spikes in the spring. It will survive droughts but if there's water available it will grow very dense, to make it absolutely impossible for weed seeds to sprout from within it. But it's shallow-rooted so won't compete with your plants, nor will it shade them because it never grows more than 3 inches from the ground. It's easy to spread around by digging small bits that take well even in heat.

Sedum spurium 'Red Carpet' - A very attractive red-leafed sedum that will really stand out in contrast to those varigated irises if planted right next to and among them. It is also very low-growing, drought-tolerant so it will not take water that could be going to your other plants, and this particular variety grows pretty slow.

Sedum spurium 'Tricolor' - similar to 'Red carpet' but grows more quickly, has a green/white leaf that has a very visible pink blush over it when it's exposed to direct sun; it also turns more pink in the winter, and has pink flowers.

Cerastium tomentosum ('Snow In Summer') - spreading silver-leafed ground cover that is also reliably less than 4 inches high, gets absolutely covered in white flowers in the early summer, and would pop against the ajuga and red-leafed sedum. It wouldn't contrast as well against the iris so I wouldn't plant it right there, but because it's the most drought-tolerant, I'd put it right up against the edge of the garden.


It looks like you are very keen on symmetry. That means that gardening with picky plants is not a good idea, since, though it might be easy enough to get them to survive, it's more likely that they'll thrive on one side and not on the other. You can save them for your garden elsewhere.

I would throw in some oriental poppies, for good measure, just behind the irises where they they can be cut down for their summer dormancy.

Then I'd scatter the whole thing with some naturalizing spring bulbs ... daffodils, crocus, species tulips etc.

I'd plant them right inside the groundcovers so that their dying leaves blend in and are eventually covered.

I'd also plant an aggressive (but very short) groundcover right on top of our allium bulbs so that that foliage is overtaken as soon as it dies.

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