Full Shade Perennials

There are times gardeners want to begin a new garden but do not have the best of locations to begin digging. Perhaps the only choice is at the foot of a tall board fence and the sun is on the other side. The perfect location for a small Koh Samui inspired garden is blocked by a tall evergreen tree. Walking to the garage there is a space between the sidewalk and the garage wall, but the area is shaded all day.

What is Full Shade?

There are many descriptions and degrees of shade. The terms used most often are partial shade, filtered shade and full shade. Full shade is the location receiving the least direct light. Locations in your yard that receive only indirect light are still possibilities for an ornamental garden. If an artist can choose a northern exposure for best light and produce masterpieces, why not a gardener? It is only a matter of choosing the right pallet for you work of art.

Full Shade Perennials

Perennials plants are those that die back to the soil line in winter, but the roots survive below ground. Come spring the roots revives as the soil warms and send up new growth. A plant that returns two or more consecutive seasons is referred to as perennial. I am a big believer in using only perennial plants for they only grow better as they age. Each year as they return in spring they become larger and offer more blooms. Also one does not have to replace them each year. The first year a perennials is transplanted it mostly sleeps. Second year it kind of creeps along in growth. The third year it leaps into action. So, a bit of patience is required when first transplanting new perennials.

The choices may be a bit fewer than for a partial-shade or filtered-shade garden, but a showy ornamental garden is possible. Mother Nature does not allow space to go to waste and has selected out specific plants that will take advantage of a heavily shaded area. In turn we humans have selected out the most attractive to our eyes over the millennia to create gardens in difficult places. Gardeners over the centuries have not given up and neither should you.

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Greenhouse Impressions Shade Solutions

Greenhouse at night
When the propagation lights are on all night it looks as though a 48 foot worm from outer space landed on the lawn. The lights are fluorescence tubes under hoods that are lowered to about 4 inches above the seedling trays. Lights and trays are all up on tables, so the effect is hazy and indirect. A soft blue light radiates outward through the greenhouse walls. From the outside one sees a giant segmented glowing worm formed from braces the plastic is stretched over. I find myself going to the window at night, looking up the hill to see if our worm retains its special glow.
Inside looking out
While in the greenhouse you cannot see out. There is a double wall of plastic inflated by blowing air between the two sheets. However, the light does come through. So, you can be inside the greenhouse and enjoy your day without all the distractions of clear windows to the outside. Overall effect is to lend a special feeling of being separated from the world. When it rains it is like living inside a drum. The taunt plastic forms a drum for the slightest sprinkle of raindrops to beat upon just over your head. A heavy rain and you cannot hear yourself think. Inside my head I can sing along with Fred Astaire without having to get wet.
Tropics on a sunny day
Heat quickly becomes trapped inside the greenhouse as the sun’s diffused rays slant through the ceiling and walls. On a clear cold day with freezing temperatures outside, the sun can heat the inside of the greenhouse to tropical temperatures. In the morning you enter with a coat on, and work in shirtsleeves by noon. With all the plants breathing, evaporation from hundreds of containers with moist soil, humidity is high. It only takes a few early blooms to give one the feeling of being in the tropics in spite of winter weather outside. Perhaps I should just pull up a chair, pour a glass of wine, open that book and enjoy a min vacation to the Bahamas without the cost of a airplane ticket.
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