Archive for Aralia ‘Sun King’

Colorful Annuals for Shade

Posted in containers for shade, shade annuals with tags , on August 24, 2011 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

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 carolyn@carolynsshadegardens.com.  Click here to get to the home page of our website for catalogues and information about our nursery and to subscribe to our blog.

Colorful container for part shade

Every year I  design the window boxes and main container at my family’s camp  in Maine.  Someday I want to write an article on all the combinations I have used, but right  now this summer’s offering is all I can handle.  I really enjoy the process of putting together the plantings because, at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens, I don’t get the chance to work with annuals (although I also use perennials in the containers).  The process of designing containers is like creating a temporary work of art.  Cramming all the colors, textures, habits, and heights into one pot to be viewed just for the season is fun.

The container and the window boxes are by the front door, which faces the path coming down from the road.  It is a part shade site, but it gets a lot of morning sun, making almost any plant suitable.  I have used plants that take full to part sun and also plants that require part to full shade, and all have thrived.   Over the years, my plant choices have become taller and more dramatic, with 2011 being my most colorful design yet.  The house is stained driftwood gray, and the only color limitation is the front door, which is eggplant colored.

Just in case you want to use some of these plants in your own containers, here are the details.  In the pot above, height, interesting texture, and color is provided by the annual red fountain grass, Pennisetum setaceum ‘Rubrum’.  I  use this grass a lot in containers because it is very reliable and only gets better as the season progresses.  The middle of the containers is filled with purple ‘Dark Star’ and orangey pink ‘Sedona’ coleus, both reliable workhorses. The star of the mid level is a new plant to me, perennial golden aralia, A. cordata ‘Sun King’.  It grows in part to full shade and matures at 3′ by 3′.  Lower down is the tuberous begonia ‘Nonstop Apricot’ and spilling out the front are purple-leafed sweet potato vine ‘Midnight Lace’ and orange million bells ‘Aloha Orange’.

The window boxes are a few feet away from the front door so I use many of the same plants and colors.  However, my choices are limited to lower growing plants because I  don’t want to block the kitchen windows.  I  also like to choose plants, like the coleus, that look beautiful from the back when viewed from inside the house.  In addition to the purple sweet potato vine, million bells, coleus, and begonia found in the pot, I  have added the chartreuse sweet potato vine ‘Emerald Lace’.

We enjoy this planting from inside and out.

Carolyn

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 website’s homepage to access the sidebar information (catalogues, previous articles, etc.), just click here.

Nursery Happenings: The nursery is closed until it cools off in the fall around the middle of September.  If you are on my customer email list, look for an email.  If not, sign up by sending an email to carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net with your name and phone number.

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