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Garden Topics: Patterns in Shade

Many think a shady garden presents a set of problems that are difficult for gardeners to overcome. Not so, I would say, for I have found the opportunity for creating profound beauty in such areas.

It is first important to understand that bloom is much more limited in shady loving plants. So instead of matching, contrasting, and coordinating bloom color, work with foliage color and texture instead. Choose and place perennials so that each plant, or group of plants, contrasts to those beside it.

Note in the pictures shown here, that the leaf shape and size (Texture), of adjacent plants were selected to be different so as to stand apart from each other. Essentially there are three main categories of foliage texture: fine, medium and broad. Too much fine foliage and the bed looks fussy; too much broad foliage and the garden looks heavy. The idea is to aim for a pleasing mix of the three textures in each area of the bed.

Foliage color is just as important and can range from light or dark green to yellow or blue-green. Some foliage appears gray or silver as well. There are numerous variegated foliage plants available and some containing red pigment, which results in shades of bronze to purple.

Keep in mind that plant foliage of the same color, shade and texture will blend together thus providing a landscape without appeal. We want our plants to stand apart with obvious contrast.

An easy way to proceed would be to visit our shade plant departments for inspiration. Pick out several richly textured or colored shade garden plants, set them on the ground here at the garden center, and arrange then so they look good next to each other. Add or subtract plants as needed to to properly fill your space at home.

That is all there is to it. Give it a try, and remember we are here to assist if you have the need.

Various Shade Plants

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