Shade loving perennials are opportunists, the majority of them bloom early in the growing season to take advantage of the abundant light beneath deciduous trees. For this reason, the rest of the season in a shade garden will be about creating interesting foliage combinations. Keep this in mind when planning your garden.

Early Bloomers in the Shade Garden

As early as late January, we find perennials showing off in the shade garden. Lenten Rose are pushing up new growth and flower buds through their evergreen foliage. Clusters of rose, pink, white and cream flowers stand 12”-18” tall. Blooming for several months, they create a backbone for the well planned shade garden. Pair these with early blooming bulbs or evergreen ferns. Tassel, Autumn, or Korean Rock Ferns are good choices. Arum is still making a show with its arrow head foliage and spikes of red berries. This plant will disappear when it gets hot and reappear in the Fall. For this reason it is called Winter Hosta.

March brings hardy Primrose into bloom in bright primary colors. Virginia Bluebells are beginning to bloom and look great with daffodils. Old fashioned Bleeding Hearts appear and send out their necklaces of heart shaped pink charms. Lungwort begins to bloom in blue changing to pink, there is also a white blooming variety. Lungwort have interesting variegated foliage, adding more color all season.

Other Shade Garden Selections

  • Foam Flower has masses of 12” tall white flower spikes that look like foam from a distance.
  • Woodland Phlox blooms on upright stalks in white, pink, or blue and they spread nicely in the shade garden.
  • Crested Iris with its delicate lavender blue or white flowers also bloom now. These miniatures grow 6” tall and hold their sword shaped foliage through the season.

Try companion planting all these beauties with bold textured Hosta, whose foliage comes in in blue, gold, and chartreuse. You can also use Ferns, Heuchera, Lamium and Astilbe to add to your shade gardens colors and textures.

Having shade is not a curse, there is far less maintenance to a shade garden if mulched properly. You can create an exciting garden that will serve as a cool retreat for you to relax in this summer. Bring the chairs and a pitcher of tea.

Check Out : Three Fabulous Foliage Plants for Shade