Northern Shade Gardening

White Flowering Shade Perennials for Spring

Wednesday, May 28, 2008 Category: Perennials

Here are 2 shade perennials in my garden that bloom with white flowers for spring, Dicentra spectabilis ‘Alba’ (white bleeding heart) and Convallaria majalis (lily of the valley). Both of these do very well in a cold northern climate. They are old fashioned, easy care plants, that are still charming.

My D. spectabilis ‘Alba’ is a medium sized perennial with light green attractive foliage. In zone 3, in the shade, the foliage lasts until frost. This bleeding heart has all white flowers which are very pretty. They dangle in a row from the underside of a branch. The white hearts near the main stem are fully open now, with the bead below, but the flowers on the end of the stalk are still dangling down like Solomon’s seal flowers.

Convallaria majalis (lily of the valley)Here are the Convallaria in their favourite setting of dappled shade. The scent of lily of the valley is a sure sign that spring is well under way. Their pretty white bells dangle down the stalks, and light up the shade. Although they like to spread, I find them easy to pull if they grow too close to other perennials, but I wouldn’t plant them next to small delicate woodland flowers. They look charming under taller perennials. I think they mix well under shrubs, or with taller ferns and astilbe, which hold their own. In large enough groups, you don’t even have to bend down to sniff them. The wonderful smell hangs in the air.

I love walking by the west side of my garden right now, with the heady scent in the air. Now that the willow tree is leafing out, I enjoy the dappled patterns it is casting on these plants. The shadows will grow larger as the willow leaves fully expand.

There are some white flowering summer plants in this post, and more white spring flowers in this post.

Even common perennials bring beauty to the garden.

11 Responses to “White Flowering Shade Perennials for Spring” »

  1. Nancy Bond :
    May 28, 2008 at 9:46 am

    I can smell that heady perfume from here! Lily of the Valley in particular brings back many memories of gardens from way back when. :)

  2. stadtgarten :
    May 28, 2008 at 11:55 am

    It is so nice to see that you are still having spring flowers in your garden. Here spring is over, all the summer flowers are in bloom now (much too early!)and time is going by so quickly.
    Thank you for your visit and comment on my blog. Monika

  3. Northern Shade :
    May 28, 2008 at 12:10 pm

    Nancy, I find the scent brings back memories too. It is a very powerful sense. I remember walking with my mother and father when I was little, holding onto their hands, and cutting between 2 buildings. In the shade of the narrow walkway, the space was filled by lily of the valley as they tend to do. The scent was concentrated in the space and the cool shade and scent left a lasting impression, combined with the warm family feeling.
    Stadtgarten, there is so much to savor and enjoy in each growing season. I always wish for winter and snow to speed by, but then want to be able to slow down spring, summer and fall.

  4. Barbara :
    May 28, 2008 at 1:05 pm

    I also love both plants very much and have them on various places in the garden. But now only dicentra is still blooming. Lilly of the Valley has already faded. Today I planted some more hostas which hopefully will have white flowers too. Let’s wait and see!

  5. Amy :
    May 28, 2008 at 1:36 pm

    You took such wonderful pictures of both those plants. My mother gave me two good sized clumps of lily of the valley this year that I planted in the one truly shady part of my yard. They’ve been doing well and now I wonder if there are flowers. I’ll have to ask my family to take a look for me :)

  6. Joy :
    May 28, 2008 at 4:17 pm

    Another white and green appreciation day ! .. You have me wanting the white old fashioned bleeding heart again .. this may turn into another plant hunting expedition for me yet ! Thanks ! : )
    Joy

  7. Northern Shade :
    May 28, 2008 at 4:42 pm

    Barbara, I have them in a few places too. The lily of the valley tends to find a few of its own places without asking me first. Which Hosta did you get? It is a bit of a gamble sometimes, when you rely on their labels for accurate information and the plant isn’t in bloom.

    Amy, thank you. I’ve transplanted lily of the valley in the spring before and had it still bloom. It tends to get on with the business of growing and blooming without needing any coddling. You’ll have to have your family set up a garden cam to help you keep track of things while you’re laid up.

    Joy, hurray for green and white. It’s such a refreshing combination in the shade.

  8. Pomona :
    May 28, 2008 at 4:44 pm

    Beautiful pictures of the white bleeding hearts and lily-of-the-valley (and I loved your specific memory of them from early childhood. It’s funny how plant-lovers seem to be impressed at a very early age–maybe we’re just open to the impressions plants give us).

    You’re inspiring me to get all three kinds of bleeding heart (I have the pink fern-leaf kind, which seems to be easiest where I am) and see if this time I can grow them without killing them.

  9. Northern Shade :
    May 28, 2008 at 5:07 pm

    Thanks, Pomona. My father was an enthusiastic gardener, and I think I did get my love of gardening from him.
    I have found the white bleeding heart to be very hardy, despite our cold winter. It only gets about an hour of sun early in the morning, and some dappled light filtered through the willow leaves for the rest of the day, yet it does very well. In hotter climates, I think it’s the summer heat that causes them to disappear for the summer, but the foliage stays fresh here.

  10. Ms. S :
    May 29, 2008 at 5:24 pm

    Hi, I am so glad I found your blog. I have added your RSS feed. We just purchased a 1960s property in Edmonton, AB, zone 3. It is in a heavily treed area and the backyard is west-facing with a stand of evergreens along the back lane. Other than that there are no plantings. As soon as we get the new fence in I can’t wait to tackle the gardening. Your blog will be a wonderful source of inspiration. Lovely!

  11. Northern Shade :
    May 29, 2008 at 6:45 pm

    Ms. S, have fun planning and planting your new garden. It’s great to have a gardening project on the go. With a blank slate, you can put everything in exactly where you want it.

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