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Container Gardening – Quick & Easy Idea

Container Gardening with shade loving Hosta

Container Gardening with shade loving Hosta

I like to do a number of containers with Hosta since they are a hardy shade perennial with beautiful foliage & easy to care for. I was looking for something to dress up my shaded front entryway. I had a black pot and wanted something with yellow foliage.

Here’s this simple container recipe:

-1 black container
-3 Hosta Lemon Lime (1 qt pots)
-Few stones for contrast

In the winter, I put the whole pot in my storage shed and try to water it in February or so because the roots will get rather dry and then change the soil early in the season before the shoots are up.  One year, I forgot about this pot completely and the shoots had turned white and were 3″ tall.  I simply cut these shoots back when I finally placed it outside for the season and they rebounded nicely with their normal color.

This container garden took me about 10 minutes to plant and has given me so far over 3 years of season long enjoyment.  If you wanted to mix and match this up a bit – you can use a bright colored Heuchera such as Berry Smoothie.

Hosta Lemon Lime is available at


Garden Design with Hydrangea

Garden Design with Hydrangeas

Hydrangea, Hosta & Aruncus in a shade garden setting

Here’s a  garden plant combination for the shade garden that is a real eye-catcher!

Hostas are a terrific shade perennial to use as a foreground planting to flowering shrubs such as Hydrangeas.

The large rounded Hydrangea flowers play well against the delicate, lacy creamy white flowers of Goatsbeard or Aruncus.

Aruncus is an imposing upright shade perennial that thrives in a moist setting.    It grows up to 5 feet tall.  I like using Aruncus to give height in my shade garden and often will use this perennial in place of a shrub.

7 Expert Tips for Shade Garden Success

White flowering Annabelle Hydrangea and gold Hostas inject light & energy in a shaded north facing location.

Over the years of gardening, I have found shade gardening required less time and maintenance than my sunny perennial borders. It also became a tranquil place to relax and unwind after a hectic day.

Here are a few shade gardening tips that are quick and easy to do while making your shade retreat a place you want to spend time in.

1) Consider the Grand Design. You can create the illusion of space by installing a gently curved pathway. Create shade by installing a pergola or umbrellas if you have open sunny areas.

2) Most shade loving plants benefit from some sun (preferably morning which is less harsh)  Light colored foliage plants brighten up shaded areas and look colorful all season. Gold Hostas and moneywort gradually transition from gold to bright yellow. Black leaf plants such as Heuchera Obsidian really depend on some sunlight to bring out the deepest black leaves possible.

3)  How to add light to deep shade

Don’t hesitate to limb up lower branches of trees and shrubs. Those tired and overgrown shrubs will not only have a fresh new look but more oxygen circulates creating a healthier environment.

4 )  Plant Selection & Foliage

Hosta, Hellebore & Fern combine well with their different textures and shapes. The combination of blues & greens are calming in a shade garden

The less sun available, the less energy there is for plants to produce a lot of  flowers that you would normally get in a sunny perennial garden.  You can create a beautiful setting with the right mix of foliage color, shaped & textures.  Blue and green foliage create a calming and comforting feeling in a shade garden.

5 ) Tough Areas

If you are having a hard time getting anything to compete with tree roots, grow your favorite shade plants in containers.  Sink pots in the ground between roots or add height with taller pots.

6)  Berm or Terrace

For problematic areas, consider a berm or terrace. Make sure you don’t cover more than a third of tree roots.  A raised bed will be easier to maintain and bring in plants closer to you for your enjoyment.

7) Shade Garden Success

If you are just starting out, select plants that are more WIDELY ADAPTABLE to various degrees of light and soil conditions.

Enjoy season long bursts of foliage color in the shade

I once had a shade garden that included hundreds of shade plants, but there were a handful that were able to tough it out better than others.  It was an easy care shade border that was beautiful 3 seasons of the year and a terrific place to unwind after a hectic day.  As the plants got bigger, they filled in nicely covering bare spots and reducing maintenance.

For gardening inspiration, check out these shade garden collections.

Our next article will feature 12 Best Shade Loving Plants for Your Garden.

Three’s Company – Garden Design Made Easy

Garden Design can be overwhelming if not frustrating.  What you sketch out on graph paper may not end up the way you envision it in the garden.

Hosta, Hydrangea & Aruncus

Hosta, Hydrangea & Aruncus

When it comes to garden design, start simple and think in 3’s. I often start with 3 plants that vary in size, shape and color yet match their growing environment.  Once you have something you like – you simply add to it.

Perennials & shrubs vary in color (both foliage & flower), texture and type or form.   With various combination of these features, there are countless opportunities to combine plants in the landscape.


RIGHT. Enjoy season long  foliage color with slug-proof Hosta First Frost as a foreground planting. The round bold flowers of  Hydrangea make for a pleasing yet contrasting  combination. The fine-textured flowers of Aruncus completes this handsome 3-some.

Tiarella & Hostas

Tiarella & Hostas

LEFT. A small leaf gold Hosta is in front, a white edged medium sized Hosta in the center with Tiarella in the background.  Note how the white variegation of the Hosta compliments the white flowers of the Tiarella.

When it comes to garden design, think of  your garden as a small series of rooms or vignettes and  in 3’s as a starting point.  This way beginning garden design is less daunting.

For more inspiring garden combinations, visit our Garden Collections on

Gardening with Hostas

Hosta JuneHostas are an all time favorite shade perennial – and quite honestly I’m pretty passionate about them.  I have found throughout my 25 years of gardening that I can plant them any time of the year the ground is not frozen.  They are as tough as a pair of old boots and speaking of boots you can even take an old pair and use them as a planter. I even dug out a few clumps one year in the middle of summer, left them in the garage, went on vacation for a week , then planted them and they did just fine

Hostas come in all kinds of sizes, shapes, colors and even blooms times.  Having grown over 300 of them at one time I do attest to some favorites.  Somebody once asked my what makes a Hosta a favorite – so here you go.

1)  I don’t  like those little holes that pop up all of a sudden in the leaves.  This is caused by slugs.   I have found over the years that slugs are drawn more to old varieties which have a thinner substance than many of the newer varieties with thicker substance.   As long as I know what  is filet mignon to them, I’ll stick with the newer stuff.

2)  Now that I’ve moved recently I have a lot more sunnier areas – so I like varieties that can do well in both sun and shade

3)  Hostas look great in the spring – but what about late summer & fall.  Hey – that’s when my gardening is really starting to kick in and sure don’t want any wimpy performers that start to shut down in August.

So here’s my I-can’t-live-without Hosta list:

June – nice medium size – just looks darn beautiful even into September

Stained Glass – wow can this take some sun  and the leaves are SO shiny

Touch of Class the name says it all

Sum & Substance – no garden should be without this beauty – it just gets bigger & more impressive every year.

Regal Splendor – Its the vase shaped style this is just awesome.

Hosta Sum and Substance

TIP: Grows the best in well drained soil & moist conditions.

COMBINATION IDEAS: If I had only 3 plants to use in a shade garden, they would be Hostas, Ferns &  Hakonechloa macra Aureola

by Mary Walters.

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