Shade Gardens

Many people consider getting plants established in shady areas of the yard as a challenge. Fortunately, this does not have to be true. There are many options available to gardeners for shady areas. Want to learn more?

I will present Create a Shady Garden Respite at this year's Gardeners' Big Day, March 29th at Dickson Mounds Museum. In this program I cover both the art and science of gardening in the shade. I discuss how to garden in the shade and give a variety of plant options beyond the usual hosta and fern. You'll also learn other elements that are needed to round out a relaxing space that connects you with nature. For more information or to register, go to or call 309-543-3308Image removed.309-543-3308.

What kinds of plants are grown in the shade? The most common ones are hosta and ferns, but there are so many more.

Barren strawberry (Waldsteinia fragarioides) is a beautiful little groundcover that grows four to six inches tall. It does well in light conditions from full sun to full shade. Barren strawberry likes well-drained soil and actually does well in rock gardens and somewhat dry soils.

As the name suggests, Barren strawberry has a strawberry-like appearance with dry, inedible fruits. It has yellow flowers in late spring to early summer. Just like strawberries, it creeps and spreads by rhizomes. Each plant forms a mat that is 18 to 24 inches wide. The plant is semi-evergreen, so will remain green all year long.

Basket-of-gold (Aurinia saxatilis) provides brilliant yellow flowers from early spring to early summer. I have a patch of this growing under my mature redbud tree at the side of my house. It is gorgeous. The plant thrives in full sun, but will tolerate partial shade. It has gray-green foliage and is also semi-evergreen through the winter. Basket-of-gold mounds six to twelve inches tall. This plant is especially nice in a rock garden, wall, or front of a border.

Liriope or lilyturf is a grassy looking member of the lily family. It grows in mounds 12 to 18 inches tall and wide with clusters of white or purple flowers in summer. The plant does best in well-drained soil in the sun or shade. I saw this growing in huge masses in Savannah, Georgia's shaded town squares.

Liriope is also semi-evergreen, though the foliage is sometimes damaged with our icy, windy winters. It makes a great edging or low accent border plant. It also works well as a groundcover around trees or on slopes. The grassy texture doesn't go well with all other plants, however, so use it carefully.

Visit me at Gardeners' Big Day on March 29th to learn more!