Woody Plants for Shade Part 5
Shade gardens are not composed solely of perennials so two years ago I branched out to offer high quality shrubs, vines, and trees to my customers. In my second Spring 2012 Woody Plant Offer, details here, I have focused on plants that are late spring or summer blooming and native to our area. I thought my blog readers who are not customers might be interested in learning about the plants that I would recommend they add to their shade gardens. And doing an article allows me to add more information and explain why I chose the plants I included so customers might be interested also.
I saw native fringe tree, Chionanthus virginicus, in full bloom in the shady woods of Bartram’s Garden in Philadelphia recently, and it reminded me of how gorgeous this native tree is. It is loaded with generous amounts of creamy white, fragrant flowers in May and June. Its medium green leaves turn a good yellow in the fall. It may produce showy grape-like fruit attractive to birds. Fringe tree grows to 12 to 20’ tall and 12 to 20’ wide in sun to part shade, although the tree in Bartram’s Garden was in a very shady site. It is wet site tolerant, hardy to zone 4, and native to the eastern US, including PA. It is a Missouri Botanical Garden Plant of Merit (photos courtesy of MOBOT).
I have seen stands of summersweet growing wild in New England, and it is a beautiful sight. However, the species gets quite large and suckers into colonies so the native dwarf summersweet ‘Hummingbird’, Clethra alnifolia ‘Hummingbird’, is better for most home gardens. It has very fragrant, bottlebrush, white flowers in June and July that attract butterflies. Its lustrous bright green leaves turn a clear yellow in the fall. It has an excellent compact habit and produces more flowers than the species.
Dwarf summersweet grows to 2 to 4’ tall and 3’ wide in sun to full shade. It is hardy to zone 4, deer resistant, wet site and salt tolerant, and native to the eastern US, including PA. It is a Pennsylvania Horticultural Society Gold Medal Plant, click here for details (photos courtesy of the MOBOT Plant Finder, for more information click here).
I have offered ‘Nikko’ dwarf slender deutzia, D. gracilis ‘Nikko’, before, but it is such a useful plant that I couldn’t help including it again. It is covered with delicate white flowers in April and May. Its fine-textured and neat green leaves turn an attractive burgundy in the fall. It is an excellent specimen or flowering groundcover for shade. I grow it in full shade as a groundcover to edge the path at the base of my winterberry hollies. ‘Nikko’ grows to 1 to 2’ tall and 2 to 5’ wide in full sun to full shade. It is hardy to zone 4 and deer resistant. It is a PHS Gold Medal Plant (for more information click here).
Native ‘Invincibelle Spirit’ smooth hydrangea, H. arborescens ‘Invincibelle Spirit’, is a pink-flowered version of the wonderful ‘Annabelle’. It has very showy large pink snowball flowers that continue to bloom from June into the fall. ‘Invincibelle Spirit’ grows to 3 to 4’ tall by 3 to 4’ wide in part to full shade. It is hardy to zone 4, tolerant of a wide range of soil conditions, deer resistant, and native to the eastern US, including PA. It should be gently pruned in late spring for optimum growth (photo courtesy of the MOBOT Plant Finder, for more information click here).
Our native oakleaf hydrangea, H. quercifolia, is the best all round shrub for shade—everyone should have at least one! Huge, long-lasting, upright pyramids of white flowers bloom from May through July and change to pink for even longer interest. It has bold-textured leaves with heart-stopping burgundy-red fall color, and cinnamon-colored exfoliating bark—a true four season plant. I am offering ‘Alice’ native oakleaf hydrangea, a superior form that has larger flowers, better fall color, and very disease resistant leaves. It grows to 5 to 8’ tall and 5 to 8’ wide in sun to full shade. It is hardy to zone 5, walnut and drought tolerant, and native to the southeastern US. For more information, click here.
‘Preziosa’ sawtooth hydrangea, H. serrata ‘Preziosa’, is now my favorite “fancy” hydrangea for full shade so I am offering it again. I planted mine in the shade of a white pine under a cherry laurel behind a Japanese maple, and it is thriving and loaded with buds right now. This wonderful hydrangea produces lovely pink mophead flowers from June to August, which darken with age to a gorgeous maroon. But I may like the elegant leaves more, especially their beautiful burgundy fall color. The leaves, deep red stems, flowers, and habit of ‘Preziosa’ are all superior to most other hydrangeas. ‘Preziosa’ grows to 3 to 4’ tall and 3 to 4’ wide in part to full shade. It is very tolerant of cold temperatures and hardy to zone 5. For more information, click here.
Native ‘Blue Muffin’ arrowwood viburnum, V. dentatum ‘Blue Muffin’, has lovely flat-topped white flowers in May and June that attract butterflies. Lots of pea-sized very blue berries appear in late summer and attract birds. The shiny dark green leaves are beautiful all season and turn attractive shades of orange to burgundy in the fall. ‘Blue Muffin’ has an excellent and useful narrow, upright habit. The branches are so straight that the Native Americans used them for arrows.
‘Blue Muffin’ grows to 5 to 8’ tall and 3 to 4’ wide in sun to part shade. It is deer resistant and grows in a wide range of soils. It tolerates salt, drought, and walnuts. ‘Blue Muffin’ is hardy to zone 3 and native to the eastern US, including PA (fruit photo courtesy of MOBOT, for more information click here).
‘Wine & Roses’ old-fashioned weigela, W. florida ‘Wine & Roses’, has copious amounts of eye-catching rose-red flowers in May and June that attract hummingbirds. The flowers are set off to perfection by the glossy deep burgundy leaves whose color intensifies in the fall. ‘Wine & Roses’ has an excellent habit—you can prune it immediately after flowering to fit any location. It grows to 4 to 5’ tall and 4 to 5’ wide in sun to part shade. Although I recommend some direct sun for better flowers, I have seen weigela blooming in full shade. It is hardy to zone 4, deer resistant, and tolerant of a wide range of soils. ‘Wine & Roses’ is a PHS Gold Medal Plant, for details click here.
‘Moonlight’ Japanese hydrangea vine, Schizophragma hydrangeoides ‘Moonlight’, has very showy 8 to 10” wide white lacecap flowers in midsummer. But I really grow it for its elegant silver-painted dark green leaves, which turn yellow in the fall. ‘Moonlight’ is a self-attaching vine that covers the surface it grows on with silvery leaves. It reaches 20 to 30’ at maturity in part to full shade—mine is in deep shade. It is a PHS Gold Medal Plant, for details click here (photo of flowers courtesy of the MOBOT Plant Finder click here).
I hope I have inspired you to order some of these wonderful plants in my offer or search them out at your local independent nursery. To read the previous posts on woody plants for shade, click one, two, three, and four.
Nursery Happenings: Customers can pre-order woody plants through noon on May 22. Click here for details. We have added a third session of our seminar, The Secrets of a Low Maintenance Garden, on Sunday, May 20. Click here for details. If you are interested in receiving miniature hostas mail order, click here.
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