Thursday, April 24, 2014

Garden Planning: Shady Perennials

Spring has finally arrived in Indiana and it makes me so incredibly happy. Tiny buds on the trees, daffodils and hyacinth everywhere, blue skies with puffy clouds. Sunglasses! Iced coffee! Hooray! It's still pretty chilly and we had several inches of snow last week but I'm not letting that faze me. I have been daydreaming about gardening for several months now and I'm ready to dig up our yard.

I've had a little experience in vegetable gardening, but I won't pretend to know much about flower gardening. I'm doing my best to turn that around this spring and summer. I've been reading books, blogs, and perusing the Better Homes and Gardens website for lots of tips (their plant encyclopedia has been incredibly helpful.)

If anything, I know that I want lots of pretty flowers in soft hues and I don't want to work hard for them to thrive. I also don't want to spend a ton of money on landscaping each year, either, and we have a ton of trees, so I'm in the market for perennials that will flower year after year in our shaded yard. Although that limits my options a wee bit, I was surprised to find a lot of beautiful blooms that fit the bill. Here's a selection of what I hope to plant this year..

ALLIUM  These puffballs stole my heart years ago, during a date to the zoo with Chris. Alliums are in the onion family (think chives, green onion, garlic) so you can enjoy them in the garden and in the kitchen. I hope to plant a wide variety to stagger the bloom time throughout the spring and early summer.
BUNCHBERRY  This shade-loving ground cover is my space-saving alternative to a dogwood tree. Although the flowers fade after spring, bright red edible berries are left behind and the leaves turn fiery red in the fall.
ANEMONE  I discovered this beauty back when I was wedding planning (just look at the variety of arrangements on Pinterest!) I love the large loose petals and intricate centers. These flowers grow in dappled light or shade up north, making them perfect for our tree-covered backyard.
DELPHINIUM  The giant stalks of delphinium will bloom in the both spring and again in fall if trimmed. Perfect for adding a little vertical interest. 
VIOLETS  I'm partial to wild violets that are scattered throughout the yard, but this larger variety is lovely and offers cheerful blooms all season long.
CREEPING BUTTERCUP  Unlike many other varieties of ranunculus, creeping buttercup grows in full shade. That yellow is the perfect pop of color for a shaded area.

PEONY  Okay, okay... peonies don't exactly grow in the shade. But I have to have one. I don't need to wax poetic about their beauty. You guys know. You know. I will find the sunniest spot in my yard and make it home to a peony plant.
FORGET-ME-NOT  There was a whole mess of forget-me-nots planted around the water of our first home, and because of that, I plan to plant them at every home Christopher and I share. Nostalgia!
CLEMATIS  Like many other flowers, clematis will always remind me of my mother, who has a beautiful purple variety entwined around a birdhouse. These vine flowers do well in dappled light, and the large Henry's clematis variety blooms all summer long.
GERANIUM  Geraniums are a childhood favorite of mine, but sadly are not annual flowers up north. Enter the perennial geranium: a hardier variety that flowers for months in warmer weather. It thrives in full sun, but can handle part shade as well.
BELLFLOWER These lovely star shaped flowers are a new favorite. They bloom from spring well into summer. Yes please. 
HYDRANGEA  Yet another childhood favorite... how could you not love the fun puffball flowers of the hydrangea? These shade-loving plants bloom from summer to fall.

We're probably a few weeks away from the last frost (it always sneaks in one final chill in May up here) but I'm ready to start incorporating my floral picks into a few layout sketches and start tilling and amending the soil.

Nature in general was always a big part of my childhood... I'm very excited to share the beauty of plants with Amelia and teach her how important the earth is. She just turned eleven months this week and is becoming much more aware of her surroundings. I have a feeling she's going to love the allium and delphinium. Can't wait!


Sharon Telschow said...

That sounds like a beautiful garden plan. It should be fantastic. Happy digging!

Tang said...

I MUST have peonies too when we have a house! They're so lovely.

Hailey Peterson said...

such good information on the flowers, it would be such a beautiful garden!

Kate said...

Such a great list! I should've planted more flowers!!! :)