For a long time I tried to fool myself into thinking that I could have a big cottage garden in our backyard, full of roses and other plants that needed lots of sun. I spent a lot of time and money trying to create one. Most of the plants grew okay, but tended to lean towards the sun and never really looked how I pictured. Over the past few years I decided to work with what we've got instead of trying to create something that probably isn't possible. Most of our yard is surrounded by very large evergreen trees. Many are in our next door neighbors yard so there isn't much we can do about them. The two very large ones in our yard were limbed up and thinned a bit about three years ago which has greatly helped the amount of sun we get.
I thought I would share some of what I've been working on recently and how I've begun to accept the fact that we have a pretty shady and dry backyard. The pond area and against one side of our home gets a lot sun, so I can still grow some sunny perennials there.
This area receives mostly all shade with a bit of afternoon sun to the right of the corner shown. I'm able to have Echinacea, Rudbeckia and Agastache growing there. Here I've moved over Hostas, Astillbes and a Fuchsia magellanica that I found under a crowded hosta. I dug up the fuchsia a few weeks ago and "babied" it and now it's got a lot of new growth on it. Almost all of these were divisions from another part of the yard except for the Astillbe. I also moved over a Clematis 'Miss Bateman' which can handle shade. I think as it fills in more it's going to look really nice.
This Oakleaf Hydrangea 'Pee Wee' happily grows in this shady corner.
Further down along the fence is a group of Hollyhocks which started as one seedling many years ago and continues to self sow. This plant gets a fair amount of shade, but I'm taking a cue from it reseeding and growing that it doesn't mind where it is. It's just starting to bloom.
Looking down the pond and pathway is mostly all shade. I took a chance planting the apple tree about three years ago. To my surprise it's growing well and producing lots of apples. It does get a lot of sun because the Pine tree doesn't cast much shade on it.
I never thought we'd have apples growing in our shady backyard. It gets just enough sun, and has been pretty to look at year round.
Oakleaf hydrangea 'Snow Queen' grows under the Ponderosa Pine in very dry soil and part shade. I love how the leaves and flowers change color as the summer ends.
This is standing facing back towards the pond. You can see with all the dry weather a lot of the Irish moss has dried up. Bunchberry (Cornus canadensis), Sweet Woodruff (Galium odoratum) and Blue Star Creeper (Laurentia fluviatilis) are all doing great though.
Here Ocean Spray, also known as Cream Bush (holodiscus discolor), lives under a cedar tree. It can take dry soil and likes part shade. It's also a native plant here which probably explains why it doesn't mind being under evergreens.
The base of the Cedar tree has Hellebores, Hostas, Wood Sorrel (oxalis oregana), Sword Fern (another native here) and a Hydrangea.
This is a bloom on the Hydrangea under the Cedar. It was here when we moved in and hasn't grown much, but it continues to bloom every year.
I've enjoyed reading several posts lately on what grows well in shade. If anyone has some suggestions for dry shade to add I'd love to hear them, especially anything that might bloom during the summer. I've mentioned before that I plan to add more and more natives to this area, especially along the path. I think too much energy was put into trying to make plants grow somewhere that wasn't the right place. I'm just going to keep working with what I've got and enjoy it rather than wish it was different.