Pleasurable Pairings for Early Summer Part 2

Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a retail nursery located in Bryn Mawr, PA, specializing in showy, colorful, and unusual plants for shade.  The only plants that we ship are snowdrops and miniature hostas.  For catalogues and announcements of events, please send your full name, location, and phone number (for back up use only) to  Click here to get to the home page of our website for catalogues and information about our nursery and to subscribe to our blog.

Spigelia marilandica Indian pink, Spigelia marilandica, is one of the highlights of my garden in June.  I would like to have a field of this wonderful, hummingbird-attracting native.


My post Pleasurable Pairings for Spring profiles plant combinations in my garden in April 2011.  To read it, click here.  I am continuing this theme with two posts on pleasing plant pairs for early summer.  My house is on a south-facing slope, and the first post showed the gardens on the west side of the house.  To read it, click here.  Combinations from the east side of the house are in this post.


Carolyn's Shade GardensThe view up the slope on the east side of the house.  All the grass has been removed and replaced by garden beds and pine needle paths.

The gardens on the east side are fairly colorful when all the hellebores, snowdrops, primroses, pulmonarias, and other early perennials are blooming.  However, by late spring, they become a much more subtle tapestry composed mainly of the leaves of hostas, epimediums, hellebores, and ferns.  I love it, but it is more difficult to capture in photos than the colorful flowers on the west side.  I wish you could all see it in person, but here is my best shot.


Carolyn's Shade GardensThe view down the slope.


Carolyn's Shade GardensLooking into the woods through the upper entrance with ‘Jimmy Crack Corn’ hosta on the left.


Hosta El NinoIvory and blue ‘El Nino’ hosta really brightens up the shade, here with white bigleaf hardy geranium.


Brunnera 'Dawson's White', Heuchera 'Green Spice', Hosta TopazMore plants in my silver and blue garden, clockwise from upper left: hellebores, ‘Topaz’ hosta, native ‘Green Spice’ coralbells, and ‘Dawson’s White’ brunnera.


Hosta 'Krossa Regal'‘Krossa Regal’ hosta’s frosty blue leaves and vase-shaped habit set it apart from other hostas.


Hosta 'Sum and Substance', Podophyllum peltatum‘Sum and Substance’ hosta in the woodland with mayapples and golden groundsel.


Spigelia marilandica, Hosta Summer Lovin', Haknoechloa 'All Gold'This shows how I use the native Indian pink featured at the start of the post.  Clockwise from upper left: ‘All Gold’ Japanese hakone grass, ‘Little Blue’ pulmonaria, native sedge, hellebores, Hylomecon japonicum (no common name), ‘Citronelle’ coralbells, Indian pink, and ‘Summer Lovin’ hosta.


Hosta 'summer Lovin', Hakonechloa 'All Gold'‘Summer Lovin’ hosta and ‘All Gold’ Japanese hakone grass make a great pair.


Hosta 'Eye Declare', Heuchera 'Stained Glass'Hosta ‘Eye Declare’ and ‘Stainless Steel’ coralbells, one of the brighter combinations on the east side of the house at this time of year.


Aruncus aethusifolius, Hosta JuneFerny-leafed dwarf goatsbeard with ‘June’ hosta


Hosta 'Guacamole', Hosta 'Blue Angel'Customers often ask me which hostas go together, and my answer is they all do: ‘Guacamole’ and ‘Blue Angel’.


miniature hosta rock gardenLooking down the hill over my newest installation, a miniature hosta rock garden.  I needed a dedicated area to display my collection.


miniature hosta rock gardenA view of the miniature hosta rock garden from below.


lady fern, Hosta 'Teaspoon', Hosta 'Remember Me'Dwarf lady fern, ‘Teaspoon’ hosta, and ‘Remember Me’ hosta on the right.


DSCN0404‘Pixie Vamp’ hosta with Sedum lydium and ‘Rock Prince’ hosta.


Hosta 'Blonde Elf', lady fern, Hosta 'Blue Mouse Ears'‘Blonde Elf’ hosta, dwarf lady fern, and ‘Blue Mouse Ears’ hosta


I hope you enjoyed Part 2.



Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a retail nursery located in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, U.S., zone 6b.  The only plants that we mail order are snowdrops and miniature hostas and only within the US.

If you are within visiting distance and would like to receive catalogues and information about customer events, please send your full name and phone number to  Subscribing to my blog does not sign you up to receive this information.

Nursery Happenings:  The nursery closes for the summer on June 15 and will reopen in the fall around September 15.  Have a great summer.

Facebook:  Carolyn’s Shade Gardens has a Facebook Page where I post single photos, garden tips, and other information that doesn’t fit into a blog post.  You can look at my Facebook page here or click the Like button on my right sidebar here.

Notes: Every word that appears in orange on my blog is a link that you can click for more information.  If you want to return to my blog’s homepage to access the sidebar information (catalogues, previous articles, etc.) or to subscribe to my blog, just click here.

39 Responses to “Pleasurable Pairings for Early Summer Part 2”

  1. The effect of the many textures and variations on green along your slope is so peaceful, Carolyn, and so inviting. It’s so helpful to see your planting combinations too: The Dwarf lady fern, ‘Teaspoon’ hosta, and ‘Remember Me’ hosta especially caught my attention. Who could resist that Teaspoon host? Thanks. Susie

    • Susie, ‘Teaspoon’ is so cute, each of the leaves does in fact look like a teaspoon. ‘Remember Me’ is probably my most striking medium-sized hosta, but unfortunately it is hard to find for sale. I had it this year but not for the last few years. Carolyn

  2. I love this lush green part of your garden; when it is hot, there is nothing so cooling as a path through a beautiful tapestry of various greens. colour in the spring and I imagine in autumn too are bonuses but this area would be one of my favourites even if there were never flowers. Christina

  3. I like the new bed and view down the slope. It shows how large your gardens really are at your property.

    • Donna, Over the course of the 30 years I have lived and gardened here, a lot of plants have been planted or have multiplied themselves. One of my major objectives now is to just have larger and larger swathes of the plants that are already there and doing well. Carolyn

  4. Beautiful! I find the foliage colors in the woodland areas very refreshing during the hot summer months. Yours looks so very lush! I really like the miniature hosta rock garden.

  5. I love the bed you have made for your dwarf hostas, they look so good in their own rockery. you have inspired me to do something with the slope at the end of the woodland. Reading your posts is always expensive!

  6. Your garden is wonderful Carolyn. Flowers are nice but foliage is even nicer. Especially mass planting of lovely luscious green foliage.

  7. OK, if I wasn’t convinced before I am now, I will get some more hostas this year! You have so many beautiful varieties, and they look great together with all the other plants. I am hooked 😉

  8. Well now you know that you don’t have to convince ME about the need for foliage! Great photos and combinations. Wish we could have included some of your ideas in our book. Love the dwarf Aruncus!

  9. We live in some woods in south-eastern IN and when the gardening bug bit me a few years ago, I lamented that I “could only grow hostas”. Your post has opened my eyes to how beautiful having mostly just foliage truly is!! (I’ve since learned there’s many things that grow in the shade if you don’t fight the site.) Lovely!

  10. Lovely planting and a huge variety of hostas too . How do you keep those slugs at bay ??

    • Jane, Although I do have some slugs, I just don’t have the major problem with them that most gardeners do. I recommend that my customers spread poultry grit around the plants to keep slugs away. It is available from farm supply stores like Agway. Carolyn

  11. Carolyn I love that dwarf goatsbeard and I really love that miniature hosta bed…quite a collection of the parents to my little group.

  12. My first visit to your blog. Your garden is stunning! I love the Hostas and how you’ve planted them. Absolutely amazing. I’ll be back to see more soon…

  13. Thank you, I REALLY enjoyed this post and the beautiful and inspiring foliage combinations. I haven’t met Indian Pink before, but judging from your photo, I think I would like a field of them too.

  14. Hi Carolyn… I certainly did enjoy these wonderful views of your gardens! Perhaps my favorite is the miniature hosta rock garden and I am inspired to do something along those lines eventually here. We have been out of town for five days and returned to amazing growth of both good plants and weeds! My work is cut out for me. We apparently had a bit of a wild storm and I pretty much missed the intersectional peonies at their height. Your gardens are wonderful and an inspiration…I’m glad you do these posts but I can well imagine how difficult it is to find the time with all that you do… Larry

    • Larry, I am so glad you liked the miniature hosta rock garden. I was never inspired to really concentrate on a rock garden before but the little hostas look so perfect there. It also allows me to experiment with companion plants and see what works with the little hostas. It is very difficult to find the time to put together blog posts, but I have a lot of subscribers so I try to post once a week. Have fun weeding—that is actually a task that I enjoy but rarely have time to do. Carolyn

  15. some wonderful foliage Carolyn, it all looks so beautiful, lots of lovely texture and colour making some beautiful contrasts, Frances

  16. I like the way you have mixed ferns in with the hostas Carolyn. It is something I am trying to do more of.

    • Jennifer, One plant that I mix with hostas that I think is very satisfying is hardy begonia. That way, if the hostas don’t look great by fall, the begonia is blooming beautifully and its large foliage covers them up. But the begonia comes up late in the spring and lets the hostas shine on their own. Carolyn

  17. I just love your tapestry so adeptly woven by an expert gardener! Don’t know how you do it all!

  18. I just love all your hostas. Your garden looks so cool and refreshing. I also like the different plants planted in with the hostas. The coralbells are fabulous, and the hakone grass is beautiful.

  19. I enjoyed this post very much! I especially like the views of your paths through the green tapestry of your woodland.

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