At some point in every gardener’s life, we find ourselves faced with a difficult garden space. It might be a spot that’s shady, hot, soggy, narrow, or sloped. All of these scenarios present a challenge, but it’s precisely these challenging spaces that teach us the most. They are opportunities to broaden our gardening skills, and the outcomes can be surprisingly satisfying.
1. Thoughts on Shady Gardens
Shady and low-light garden areas are often underutilized or completely ignored. It’s a shame because shade-lovers are perfectly lovely and often some of the easiest plants to grow.
- A common misconception with shade gardening is that the plant choices are severely limited. I wholeheartedly disagree. Whether you have dappled sunlight or all-day shade, there’s a plant that’ll dig that spot. Dappled light is the perfect scenario for a woodland- or tropical-style garden. Plus, the dog days of summer are cooler in a shade garden.
- Look for shade-loving plants that have variegated leaves (white or cream along the leaf edges) such as lungwort, nettle, and coleus. They will brighten dark areas by reflecting any light that comes their way.
- When it comes to shade plants, it’s often the leaves that steal the show. But did you know that you can have your leaves and flowers, too? Bleeding heart, impatiens, and cyclamen all blossom where the sun doesn’t shine.
- A simple way to let light into a tree-shaded area is to prune the lower branches up, effectively raising the tree canopy. Depending on the tree species, this trick can mean the difference between full shade and light or dappled shade.