My Perennial Shade Garden

Pictures of my shade garden perennials.

mouse ear hosta
Mouse Ear Hosta

My front yard has an upward sloping hill with tall hardwood trees. Once the leaves pop out in May most of my front yard is in constant shade. I love trees, and they are beautiful, but planting and growing anything beneath them is difficult.

I prefer to invest in perennials, since I am on a tight budget. Impatiens are the only annual I plant and they like the shade. Usually I can find cheap, multiple impatiens seedlings in tiny containers. It takes time to get them all planted, but once they are in the ground they grow nicely. My recent favorite is the variety with red and white striped flowers.

It took me one full summer to clear out beneath the trees. The following year I added astilbe, hosta, and bleeding heart perennials. Digging the ground where there are many tree roots is tough. I added some new loam at the base of the hill which helped with planting.

Honestly, the astilbe is my least favorite. It’s spindly and small, but I’ll see how it does this year. I don’t know much about it, but it’s not full and pretty like in the pictures I’ve seen. My guess is that the dirt is not suitable.

The Hosta plants always come back and fill out a bit more each summer.  I’m happy to find that they are all growing.  This past winter was a very bad one, and a few of my perennials seem to have died.  I had a big Pampas Grass plant that is totally gone.  Glad I got this picture last summer.

pampas grass
Pampas Grass Bloom

My favorite shade garden perennial is probably the bleeding heart. It seems so fragile. The bright green stems are soft and break easily. The little heart-shaped flowers dangle from thin branches and seem so delicate. Yet it survives the winter and is always one of the first plants to push up in spring.

Usually my lenton rose plants bloom first, but this year one of them took a long time to grow.  Like I mentioned, the winter was especially hard.

Identifying Perennials in Spring

Pictures of perennials as an identification guide to what’s growing in my yard this spring.

Once the perennials start pushing through the ground in spring, I sometimes can’t recall what is growing where.  I spent nearly 30 years living in Florida where plants don’t have to hibernate over winter.  Now that I live in New Hampshire, I’ve had to adjust to not seeing my yard and gardens for months at a time.

Even though I leave the tags near the plant when they are planted, the tags don’t always last.  Some of the larger perennials, like the hydrangeas and peonies are easy to identify.

Spring Plant Identification, New England

I’ve taken some recent photos of the perennials growing this Spring as a reminder..  It’s a plant identification guide for myself.  Maybe they will help you name some in your yard as well.

I took these photos May 3, 2015.  I lived in southern New Hampshire. The top photo, in each ID section, is mine and is as the plant will look early in Spring. The bottom photo (if I have one) is from the Pixabay site and shows a mature, flowering plant.

Bleeding Heart

The bleeding heart has little pink or white flowers that hang in rows along the stems. The Bleeding Heart likes a bit of shade.


Columbine

ID Columbine plant in spring

The Columbine is one of my favorite flowering perennials. It comes in such a wide variety of colors, like pink, red, purple, and yellow, usually in a combination of colors with a light center. The flowers can be ruffled in some varieties.

Pink and blue-purple columbine flowers

Coneflower

The Coneflower is an awesome perennial and the tough thistle type seeds draw in the finches in Fall.

ID Coneflower

Coral Bells

Coral bells are perennials that have stalks of tiny, coral pink colored flowers.

ID Coral Bells
Coral bells growing in front of peonies
Coral Bells with pink peonies behind

I have two types of Coral Bells and one has darker leaves. I can’t remember what the flowers look like.

ID coral bells2

Coreopsis

The Coreopsis is a mounded type plant (or at least mine is) that grows little yellow flowers.

ID Corepsis
Yellow flowering coreopsis
Blooming Coreopsis

Monk’s Hood

Monk’s Hood will have tall stems with blue-purple flowers. I couldn’t find a flowering photo to share.

ID Monk's Hood

Phlox

Phlox comes as a creeping variety or this tall variety. Flowers are usually shades of pink, purple, or white.

ID tall phlox
Pink purple tall phlox flower

Wild Bleeding Heart

ID wild bleeding heart

Raised Garden Bed – Getting Ready to Plant

raised garden bed
Simple Raised Bed of Cinder-Blocks

At last our snow is gone. It could snow again, but it won’t last if it does. We can seriously begin thinking about our gardens now in New Hampshire.

Last year I dragged these cement blocks up from the side of the house and created a raised bed. I ordered dirt from Agway and wheel-barrowed it over to fill the area. I had tomatoes and a zucchini plant in it and they did great.

I will have to begin thinking about what I want to grow and where I’ll plant it. Except for cold weather crops, like lettuce, parsley and peas, I won’t be able to plant until the end of May.

I added Bone Meal to the dirt in this raised bed, but I still need to order a new batch of good dirt too. Finances are a bit tight, and I won’t be buying hanging planters and such to beautify my yard, but certain things I must have to grow some (hopefully) good crops. I garden to eat healthy and save money. And I also enjoy it.

I got outside the other day, when the weather was nice, and took some photos of what is coming up in the yard. I’ll share once I get them off the camera and into an organized group for my blogs.

A Death in The Hydrangea Family

I’ve been waiting, with little hope, that my pee gee hydrangea (grandiflora) would begin to show some green. Of all the new hydrangea additions to my yard last Spring, it’s the only one that seems to have died.
I managed to get a few photos of it’s pretty white flowers last summer, and I had hoped it would grow nicely in the new season, but it’s not to be. By now I would be seeing some signs of growth. My son stepped on it and I think that is what did it in, but maybe not. It may have already died over winter.

white flowers pee gee
Little Pee Gee

The others – the Pinky Winky, Limelights and Endless summer are full of leaves so I know they have survived over winter. I found a Pee Gee tree when I was out at the nursery the other day and those become so pretty. I am jealous of people who have big yards with room to grow flowering trees. Recently the whole area where I live is alive with color. From fluffy white and pink specimens to the gorgeous Japanese magnolias (my favorites), I envy yards with those typed of ornamentals. I hope to get a photo of the flowering dogwood tree I saw last year just down the street. It was a beauty.
Anyway, my attention is turned to the remaining hydrangeas in my yard. I look forward to the blue flowers especially.

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