Need Help?

Allan designs and plants flowering gardens in Montreal, Zone 5 [USDA Zone 4] .

See website, design work and favorite flowering plants at

Consultation and coaching for do-it-yourselfers is provided. Occasional emailed questions are welcome and answered free of charge. Oui, je parle francais.

See my work on Pinterest at Garden Guru Montreal

Entries in Shade Gardening (1)


Gardening In The Shade

Planting in the shade is an opportunity for creative gardeners to mine their imagination. In this setting, we do not expect to create a colorful floral composition, although that would be welcome. Here green and white are the major players and various textured plants become flower surrogates. This is an opportunity for the artistic gardener to soar. The challenge is to create a composition based primarily on a theme of green and white. There is an unpredictable pleasure to be experienced from working successfully with such a restricted palette.

Two contrasting Hosta plants create visual chemistry that is enhanced by the lime-colored and delicate-looking Alchemilla Mollis, a beautiful shade plant that is a vigorous self seeder.The major architecture of a shade garden starts by planting gracefully arching ferns and low mounding Hosta. These two perennial plants establish the overall structure of the composition. The secondary theme is introduced by Pulmonaria whose playful visual textures and variegations offset the more disciplined lines of the Hosta. Now, add low-growing Japanese painted ferns with its feathery variegations that draw the eye further into the composition. Although it may not flower in full shade, the leaves of Geranium macrorrhizum Variegatum will add strong detail due to the generous amount of cream in its foliage.

A composition of silver Japanese ferns and Pulmonaria. This exquisite photo is the copywrite property of BelleWood-Gardens. Click on the image to visit that site. Illumination for a dark garden is supplied by the white variegations found in the leaves of some Hosta and in the silver-white decoration on the foliage of many varieties of Pulmonaria. The most cheerful addition however is found on Brunnera Jack Frost, whose green leaves, over-frosted in white, capture and reflects light.

This is Hexastylis minor Dixie Darling. This photo is the copywrite property of BelleWood-Garden. Click on the image to visit that siteEqually beautiful in the shade due to their ornamental quality, are the leaves of variegated Asarum splendens and its cousin Hexastylis minor Dixie Darling.

Primula bullesiana is colorful but hard to find.Adding color to the full-shade garden is not easy as few perennials will bloom without some sun. Those that produce flowers in full shade include specific varieties of Primula, Corydalis and Dicentra. In early spring, flowers of Primula bullesiana will supply rich colors as will Aquilegia canadensis. Various cultivars of Corydalis will bloom all summer in pink, blue and yellow. As long as the soil remains moist, Dicentra King of Hearts will bloom in pink throughout the season. It is also worth experimenting with Astilbe. This perennial needs sun or part shade to bloom but some gardeners have reported that it will flower in full shade but less intensely. 

Heuchera Purple PetticoatsAll-season color that is both muted and rich can be added to the full-shade garden by planting various cultivars of Heuchera. The foliage of these varieties supplies endless shades of purple, wine, apricot, and peach. Plant a composition incorporating purple Heuchera with silver-purple Japanese Fern and watch the magic unfold.



Thanks to Judy Glattstein of BelleWood-Gardens for permission to use some of her beautiful photos.