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Shade Garden Design Ideas with Fantastic Foliage

Shade Garden CollageHere is a garden design idea with perennial groundcovers for a shady spot.  I like to dress up a shrub border with low growing ground covers plants.  Ground covers can add lots of interest while adding color and texture, while often serving to conceal  lower leaves of shrubs which often turn unsightly toward the end of the season.

Autumn Fern or Dryopteris (top) gives a vertical, but delicate lift to the back of your planting with color changing thru the season.  Heuchera Caramel (middle) is a colorful mounding coral bells that adds contrast.  Finish it off with an edging of Carex Evergold, an evergreen groundcover with a neat and tidy, tufted look.

This perennial plant combination is easy to grow in any well drained site that would get morning  sun and afternoon shade.  Plant in groups of 3,5,7 or more and get ready to add great color to your shade garden.

Read more –

7 Expert Tips for Shade Garden Success

12 Best Shade Loving Plants for Your Garden

PLANT FINDER – Find Your Perfect Plant

Find the perfect plants & flowers for your garden

Find Your Perfect Plant!

With Plant Finder Guide, you can find your perfect plants & flowers for your garden.  Search by height, size, sun/shade needs, plant type, flower color, hardiness – all within a few clicks of a mouse.

At we are here to help you with your garden plant needs!  Find your favorite sun perennials,  shade perennials, shrubs, Hydrangeas, ground covers and so much more for your garden!

CLICK HERE to start using the Plant Finder.


Rhamnus Fine Line – How to Add Interest Your Garden Design with Vertical Elements

Rhamnus makes a moderate size hedge or background plant in a sunny to partly shaded site

Remember the first perennial garden you personally designed?  Mine was a rich riot of color with Daylilies and Rudbeckia.  But it was boring – I had achieved a solder like lineup of plants with similar heights.

Add Highs to your Lows with Vertical Elements

So what now?  I realized I needed some height along with different sizes and shape to gain balance and flow -so I added a few vertical plants namely Miscanthus and was really happy with the results.

Rhamnus Fine Line®

In the past few years, I discovered a wonderful vertical plant called Rhamnus Fine Line®

The soft ferny foliage compliments many shrubs & perennials

that combines the texture of an ornamental grass with Zone 3 hardiness.  Rhamnus grows around 6 feet and the fact that it only gets around 24” wide – you have a perfect complement to any border in a sun to partly shaded site.

Unlike a Miscanthus, Fine Line® does not need to be pruned down to the ground every spring – it just flushes out with fresh new ferny like foliage which can be trimmed to any shape.


The soft ferny foliage is so lovely when planted in groups of 3 or more.  It makes a terrific background plant and a medium sized Hedge Plant.  Try it with Knock Out Roses, Buddleia Blue Chip, or other moderate size shrubs.  It also makes a terrific container plant with season long interest Rhamnus is 98% sterile so it is noninvasive.  Fall brings on a brilliant gold color.

Vertical plants such as Rhamnus help to conceal unsightly objects such as air conditioning units.

This deer & drought proof deciduous shrub is a delightful medium sized vertical plant in almost any size garden.

Viburnums – Versatile Deer Proof Flowering Shrub

Viburnum Mohawk tolerates pollution,road salt, high winds, humidity and is never the worse for wear

Clove scented spring flowering blooms

Viburnum Mohawk is a favorite low maintenance shrub.  I have been growing this spring flowering shrub for a few years now . I love how it looks  both in and out of bloom and how easy they are to grow. Viburnums are widely adaptable to  a wide variety of conditions – even alkaline soil. The only thing I do for maintenance is prune to shape (I’ll prune the lower branches so I can plant ground covers beneath)

Facts on Viburnum Mohawk:

  • Grows 8 feet tall by 10 feet wide
  • Fragrant flowers in spring
  • Fantastic fall color
  • Ideal Hedge Plant
  • Resistant to diseases
  • Stays handsome through the season
  • Spicy clove fragrant flowers
  • Berries in summer to attract songbirds
  • Adaptable to wind, salt spray, pollution, high humidity
  • Deer Proof
  • Drought Proof once established
  • Easy Care
  • Grows in Part Shade to Shade

Use Viburnum in the back of a perennial border, as a Hedge Plant or in a Foundation planting.  This easy care flowering shrub is a terrific fit for any garden.

View more Flowering Shrubs

Boxwood – the Ideal Evergreen Shade Shrub

Boxwood give a garden an orderly look 12 months out of the year!

Boxwood or Buxus is an evergreen shrub that plays an integral role in garden design.   Generally associated with colonial times, many people are finding beautiful ways to  integrate this evergreen shrub with modern or contemporary designs.  Boxwood keeps a garden orderly with its irregularly mound of glossy foliage which can easily be transformed with hedge shears.

There are many different types of Boxwood, but  many professional landscapers nationwide favor Green Velvet Buxus because of its ultra-hardy, dark green foliage & vigorous growth habit. Green Velvet was bred in southern Ontario and cold hardy to Zone 5 winters, yet it is well suited for the south, due to its tolerance of warmer climates & high humidity.

Buxus lines a pathway to a secret sitting area while framing in white Impatiens and Hydrangea

Growing up to 4 feet tall, it maintains its glossy green leaves even in the winter.  Boxwood has many uses in the landscape. Here are a few on how it can be used.

  • Define, separate or enclose areas of the garden
  • Foundation planting
  • Low Growing Hedge Plant
  • Creates a formal framework in a garden
  • Outline a flowers border, walk or terrace
  • Large containers or planter boxes
  • Topiary
  • Specimen

Boxwood in containers. Boxwood creates a welcoming entrance to a front door

Planting & Growing

Boxwood or Buxus is ideal growing site is partial shade in moist, well-drained soil.

Plant the hole twice as wide by only as deep as the root-ball. Boxwood should only be planted in well drained soil.  They grow n soils ranging from slightly acid to slightly alkaline (ph5 to 7.5).

Boxwood’s are shallow rooted plants and benefit from 2-3 inches or mulch.  Newly planted boxwood’s must be watered well  during the first growing season as necessary to keep the soil from drying out around the roots.  Avoid digging around boxwood’s as their roots are shallow.

To grow boxwood into a seamless low growing hedge, plant 12” apart.  Branches will intertwine as they grow. Boxwood can be pruned into any shape. Branches grow quickly in late spring and early summer.

If you don’t plan to keep your boxwood short, space 24 inches apart in the garden where it will retain its upright, rounded shape you’d expect from a boxwood with little or not pruning

It is best not to fertilize the first year of planting. The second year, apply a balanced fertilizer .  Apply in early spring before new growth begins.  Avoid placing any fertilizer within 6 inches from the plant stem.  Avoid any late summer fertilization.

Shearing & Pruning

You can prune Boxwood in a number of different ways

Boxwood should be sheared after each flush of growth during the first two years to encourage branch development. After 2 years, they should only be sheared to maintain a desired form or height.  Annually, remove dead and damaged branches.

If your goal is to create & maintain a garden that would look good 12 months of the year – make sure you include versatile Boxwood Shrub.

View Boxwood Video

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