Friday, November 19

Finding shade tolerant plants is easy; you probably already have somein your sun garden

You can buy all the books you want and still have to spend more dimes, dollars and pounds of cash to grow a terrific shade garden?  Perhaps you have shade tolerant or shade loving plants already.

While many plants enjoy time in sun -a minimum of a few (3-5) hours per day- there are many sun-loving plants that can not only tolerate shade but also perform better in a shady location. The easiest way to determine if you have plants to start a shade-garden is to test each of your sun-garden plants by doing a job you do in the garden already - annual division of plants that have grown too large for their location. When a plant is ready to divide, simply take one division including roots and plant it in your prepared shade garden. Another way is to test the plant beforehand by planting it in dappled shade near a tree line or similar light of your planned shade garden location.

If you are eager, ready your site, plan your design and divide your perennials to share in your shade garden. The worst that can happen is that the plant simply will not grow if you choose to create your shade garden quickly.

Perennials that might be growing your garden already:
Botanical Flower Print: Bleeding Heart - Dicentra spectabilis
White and pink bleeding hearts have hollow stems and bloom early in the spring. Dicentra can generally tolerate sun but perform much better in the shade and give the gardener a tall plant in the backdrop. When you lower their soil ph by using pine needles in the mulch, the Dicentra will grow much more vigorously in height. Protect from wind and early frost.

Sun-loving hostas are able to tolerate shade regardless of their genetic penchant for sun. Shade loving hostas perform their best in shade. They offer small and large, front and back-border plant specimens. Hosta comes in a variety of greens from limelight to the darkest green of grass-colors and all sizes from the very tiny specimen plant to curly, twisted or smooth vase-like displays. Plant a few varieties rather than lining your border with one variety. Grow your hosta in rich soil with low ph and they will multiply prolifically. Divide your hosta after a few years and you will have multiple display plants or you can start another shade garden elsewhere.

The Ferns tend to grow prolifically in the shade and dry out in the sun, so it is a natural choice for the shade due to their very nature. Ferns are similar to hosta in the number of varieties and heights available for using in your shade garden. Tall dark green fronds make a beautiful backdrop to any colored flower and the small statured ferns add interest to the mixture of other perennials.

As you are dreaming about the future looks to your garden, don't forget to add a few edible plants as well.

Goats beard loves the early morning sun and can tolerate the sun if given a half day of afternoon shade during mid-summer. Due to their natural tendencies in the wild, Goat’s beard is a terrific backdrop or large specimen plant for the shade garden. Give it room to grow by root and cut off the blooms, as they turn brown if you need a pristine look in the shade.
Astilbe White (White False Spirea, Goats Beard, Goatsbeard) {50 Bare Root plants, $2.37 each plant}
Astilbe or false goats beard are versatile and can tolerate the sun all day in many northern locations of New England. In the south, this plant desires the shade to prevent the soil from drying out and keeping nutrients accessible via moisture. The boon to this plant is that it performs better in shade by retaining its bloom under a tall canopy.

Coral-bells, heuchera, or alumroot is also tolerant of the sun but perform better in moist shade by making their foliage glow in the dark. Even the darkest and heaviest veined leaves are noticeable on a heuchera in the shade. Electric lime, Midnight Bayou, and Georgia peach are the best to start with and since they are so prolific in producing themselves, you'll have a bunch in a couple years with the correct low ph soil: Water deeply when planting and water during hot summers with little rain. Other maintenance is not necessary with the exception of dividing every few years.

Primrose (not evening primrose) and Pulmonaria are both one of the first blooms in the New England spring garden. Both bloom earlier than the bleeding hearts, are deer-proof, and give a burst of bright color in the shade or sun. They also multiply yearly especially when planted in low ph soils with added wood chips or bark mulch.

Hydrangea has many varieties, height, and different colored flowers. With the new types of hydrangea the colors range from the standard white, blue, pink, red, and of course the newest off-pinks, mauves and purples. The off-pinks and whites especially glow in the shade but the blue offer a burst of color at a different time of the summer season as well. Choose at least one for your shade color-palate.

Liriope has been named Lily turf, border-grass or monkey grass. It offers a nice vase-like shape, purple-blue colored blooms in mid-summer and is another deer resistant plant where shade might attract those long tailed beauties. In wet or bone-dry, loamy to clay soils this lovely little plant of the lily family is disguised as grass with long tendrils of grass-like leaves with a penchant for clinging to soil to prevent soil erosion in the most difficult areas. One of the best attributes to this plant is that it can tolerate salt so it is a natural choice for the edge of your shade garden where you may have a footpath that needs to be salted. Mow off the tops in early spring to encourage a new flush of growth and bloom. The pest that loves this plant is slugs and snails due to the taste of the leaves being very attractive to the soft-skinned destroyer of all in your garden. Iron pellets help destroy the slug population but copper wire or tubing can also help. Weave the copper tubing throughout your shade garden to prevent the destroyers from having bon-app├ętit!

Some daylily’s can survive in the shade as long as they have 3-5 hours of afternoon sun. Of course, the common roadside orange daylilies named ‘Fulva’ can survive quite a bit of shade and some newer varieties can as well. The key is making sure that the strong sun of summer bears down on them during the afternoon. Many websites give the specific names of shade tolerant daylilies. A spider daylily with bright yellow flower petals named ‘Orangeman’ is just one of them. Keep in mind that morning sun and afternoon shade will decrease or eliminate flower production and weaken the plant regardless of soil nutrients so be sure the plant location includes afternoon sun and dry in mid-summer.

Solomon’s seal and false Solomon’s seal loves the shade, spreads by creeping root, and offers a graceful hanging arch over other shorter flowers. It is a polygonatum meaning many-angled with respect to the roots. If the roots are in shade and heavily composted soils, the roots will spread eagerly which in the end, will provide more arching tall sprays of strong stems and dangling flowers.
Cameo Blue & White Columbine - 4 Plants - Aquilegia
Columbine, wild or domesticated, blooms forever in the shade and has a graceful and delicate lacy bloom with multiple colors available. This little plant with self propagate through seed dispersal and you will find it coming up where the roots will have shade and the leaves have sun. Although this plant is said to have needs of moist soils with rich and fertile nutrients, in New England, the seeds burst forth from sand.
Organic Lamb's Ear 150 Seed -Heirloom-Stachys-Perennial
Lamb’s ears have a soft fuzzy feel and a look that softens the rough-edges of any garden in sun or shade. Seeds propagate prolifically in well-drained sand and the plant prefers that condition as well. Mulching under the soft leaves will prevent fungus, mold, and rot that heavy rains or moist ground can bring. Lamb’s ear is a low maintenance plant in zones 4, 5, 6 but in higher zones, the plant can become too prolific and difficult to remove. Easy to grow and care for, the lamb’s ears can also spread by root: This helps the low or no-flowering varieties create new plants. De-heading is important for pristine look in the shade garden but allowing the flowers to remain on the plant will attract bees to your garden in thousands. Plant in your shade garden but share some in your vegetable garden to attract those necessary pollinators. This plant is often used as an edging plant if kept neat and trim with maintenance but can also handle being in the midst of ferns and Solomon’s Seal to offer more texture in the mid-level area of the garden.
Edulis Superba Peony - Pink Blooms - Paeonia
Paeonia (peony) needs some sun to produce its best but truly enjoys morning sun and the coolness of the late afternoon shade. Plant in an opposite sun location to the daylilies to make sure the blooms last a long as possible. Similar to Lamb’s ears, Peonies prefer well-drained sandy fertile soil. The many varieties of this plant include many colors via heirloom (paeonia lactiflora) and more recently developed deep pink varieties offset the true whites of old fashioned and heirloom varieties. ‘Bowl of Beauty’ is a favorite because of its large pink outer-petals and creamy inner-bowl with tufts of yellow on the stamens. The paeonia suffruiticosa (tree peony) is also an option for height with its tree form.

Annuals are easier to use than perennials in the shade. Choosing annuals to provide the backbone of your garden: texture, foliage, and backdrop are the challenge. After that, it is simply choosing your favorite color to add in the minimal light of shade. If you like glowing colors for an eye attracting view or subdued colors that add a bit of relaxation: most blooms are easy to choose as long as your garden center offers a good selection.  Another benefit of annuals is that the ambitious gardener can decrease their annual plant cost by planting annuals from seed early in the spring and avoid the garden center altogether.
Heirloom Lobelia Cascade of Color Seeds 350 Seeds
Lobelia has lovely miniature blue, pink, or white flowers en masse that offer a bright color in the shade. Although the lobelia can tolerate full sun in cooler climates, the lobelia struggles in dry ground. Gardeners here in New England have found the trick to make lobelia perform better by planting it in part to full shade in neutral ph moist soil. The ‘Rosamond’ variety is particularly known for glowing in shade gardens.

Impatience flowers come in a wide variety of colors of peach, reds, pinks, whites, and Fuchsia. If your garden center offers that kind of variety, take advantage of the offerings by choosing one or all. Keep in mind that some of the best will lose their color if provided too much light.
Wizard Sun Sunset Coleus Seeds - Solenostemon scutellarioides - 0.03 Grams - Approx 30 Gardening Seeds - Flower Garden Seed
Coleus, with its nature of ruffle-edged leaves and multiple colors in foliage, this plant just doesn’t stop displaying its best in shade. This plant can get quite tall if left to its own. To keep it short, trim throughout the summer or plant it in the back where height won’t be a problem. Some of the light colored varieties tend to droop in dry hot soils. The darker the leaves, the better this plant can tolerate more sun. Keep watering down to weekly once established.

Caladium is another beautifully foliaged plant that just keeps going in shade. Plant the bulbs in early spring or plant them in your greenhouse for a head start on the season. (Bulbs need to be pulled out in fall here in zone 4,5,6) Pots of caladium can be planted with the pot in your garden to provide an easy lift in the fall when the bulbs need to be protected for winter.
Calgary Narcissus Bulbs 100 Pk
Speaking of bulbs, flowering bulbs that are planted in the fall directly before the ground freezes are another alternative to add color to your shade garden in the spring. Bulbs will bloom later in the shade because the ground takes longer to warm up in the shade. As a result, the same bulbs planted in your sun garden will bloom later and longer in the shade garden. Narcissus is a favorite for a spot of white in the early spring and is the harbinger of clearing the spring garden leaves to make room for the leaves and beauty of burgeoning perennials.

For those who have little or no money, shade gardening can be inexpensive due to the plants that are already in your sun garden. Try transferring a few and watch the different behavior that shade and a cooler environment bring to your beloved perennials.

Need to choose and plan a site for your shade garden? Check back for the next article.

Sunday, November 14

What a cutie and so talented. Find this in you store and get it for your loved one to listen to Christmas eve.

O Holy Night (CD/DVD)O Holy Night (CD/DVD)
The Gift

A new blog added

The Vashti Collection (a new blog for art) is a simple place to display the art that comes from my soul.  Due to a recent disability future works will be in miniature for ease to produce and transport to galleries and for sale at the vendors fair in Southampton, Ma.: Southampton Congregational church in the Spring.  The painting currently on the Blog site are huge in many respects and thereby expensive for the atmosphere of this economy.

I sit here listening to services on the TV church and wish I could get out to church more often to give my soul a place to rest weekly.  As it is, this week, I struggle just to remain out of bed this week and try not to let anyone know.  It is my hope to find the strength to paint yet againt his winter regardless of weather and physical condition.

Check out to see what art is new or old.

Saturday, November 13

November's Gardening to-do list.

Every month has a list of to-do gardening jobs and this month, regardless of the cold, is no different. Give your garden one last tending while this warmer weather is upon won’t last forever.

Do you have an area by the street that could use a bit of touching up? Now is the time to do it. Get ready for decorating and snow by cleaning out the leaves and brush from your curbside appeal. The less debris, the less messy it looks when the first snow falls.

If you haven’t done it already, prepare your rose bushes for the extreme temperature fluctuations during winter. Roses are just one of those plants that don’t go into dormancy for winter. Roses struggle to survive the cold temperatures but they also die from the wind. Wind causes dehydration and if the bud union of your rose bush is peaking above ground, that can cause the entire rose bush to die. Cut your tea roses to one foot high and cover with burlap stuffed with leaves. This covering prevents your rose canes from dehydrating in the wind. One the burlap and leaves are in place, protect the bud union (if visible) with a mound of dirt. One of the ways to prevent this work is to plant your roses with the bud union at least two inches down in the soil. This can increase the amount of work when planting due to a deeper hole but in the long-run, you won’t be finding and placing dirt on the bud union every year.

Climbing roses? Just secure them so the wind won’t bruise the canes. Make sure your loppers are sharp for spring pruning.

Now is the time to add bone-meal to all your roses if you have it.

Get rid of the bugs before they have a chance to settle in by clearing debris and cutting back perennials in the garden. Many gardeners this year will find the tiny grey eggs lining their sedum stems in November...cut the sedums to the ground and put the stems in a burning pile or the trash to be taken away from your yard. These tiny grey eggs signal an infestation for the following year. Protect your roses and other aphid attracting perennials by planting large onions near the roses now. Simply buy a bag from the grocery store and place them root-down in the soil near the plants. The onions will survive during the winter and begin pushing forth greens early in the year. The mere smell of onion will deter the aphids from your treasured plants.

Plant your bulbs before the ground freezes. If you have moles or voles wrap your blubs in hardware cloth or chicken wire when you plant. This will make it more difficult for those little creatures to get at your bulbs during the winter and you will have better success in the bulb flowers appearing in the spring. Don’t forget to mark them so you won’t disturb them during the spring digging and planting of new perennials.

If you have a strawberry patch, cover your plants with a bit of mulch. The best mulch for strawberries is pine needles but bark mulch or wood chips will do in a pinch.

You have grapevines? Time to prune.

If you have new trees or perennials, water everything with an inch or two of water (a gallon or two each) before the ground freezes for winter.

If you have a compost, turn it over before the snow comes.

If you have a greenhouse, plant some peas, kale, swiss chard and start some long-growing herbs.

Happy Gardening!!!!!!!!!

Try new foods this Thanksgiving!!

We often wait years, here in New England, for the second warm-up of weather. The known Indian Summer in October is famous but what is this second warm up called? After much searching in books (yes, I still use paper books) and the internet...apparently, no one knows. We are having cool nights and quick warm-ups during the day... And the warmth is glorious. This warmth is giving us slackers (I am one of them) some extra time to spend in the garden, getting ready for winter, cleaning our yards and simply enjoying the brightness of the sun before the intimidating gloom of deep fall and the onset of winter. Wishful thinking allows New Englanders (including myself) to hope that winter will be mild but the gardeners within us hope for a normal winter with normal precipitation so that the growing season will be as fruitful next year as it was this year.

Our family ventured into a new area this year by growing a new-to-us type of squash, Buttercup. Butternut is the old standby for the Thanksgiving table. It's a brightly colored orange and a sunny addition of color to any table that holds all the browns of gravy, turkey and stuffing. As wonderful as it is, it's a bit plain without added seasoning.

Buttercup on the other hand? It's so brightly colored it literally glows and it truly doesn't need seasoning before putting on the table. 40 years of eating Thanksgiving dinner could have been improved by simply changing the type of squash...To top it all off, we could have easily grown it grows anywhere. With nine seeds we grew enough to supply us with a winter of feeling good three times each week.

79 pounds a week out of the veggie garden will keep us healthy way beyond winter. Most of the vegetables were potatoes and squash but those root veggies have a plethora of much needed vitamins, specifically designed for the winter gloom onset in our bodies. Vitamin A, being at the top of the list, works in conjunction with Vitamin D and helps us feel better all'round.

To get your Vitamin A more easily, bake your squash before separating it from the scoops away from the skin with a simple spoon. Cutting the squash in half is the hard part but if you have a cleaver and a clean area on your back deck, one good swing with the cleaver can make it truly easy to split. The simplest way to process the tons of squash we had this summer is to chop all in half right out of the garden and freeze just as they are. When you're ready to 'up' your intake of Vitamin A, thaw the halved sections, turn flesh-side down in a 9 X 13 pan in an inch of water and bake for 20 minutes to an hour...The bigger, the longer...the longer, the easier it is to scoop out.

Thanksgiving usually falls into the tried and true's of traditions and old standbys. If we were truly trying to replicate the first harvest we would be eating venison and lobster and celebrating our harvest in August and early September when the produce of the garden is plentiful. Trying new foods by growing them is only one way to tempt your palate. Buy small varieties and make Thanksgiving a ritual of helping others expand their tastes and traditions by including at least one new dish each year. Give that old green-bean-salad some competition.