Here some new perennials ready to plant in the shade garden. In zone 3 it’s getting late in the fall to plant, but we have had incredibly warm weather this week, and I hope the plants will settle in before the ground gets cold. There are not a great deal of plants left at nurseries by the end of September in my zone, mostly just left overs. I was fortunate to find many of the plants I wanted to add to the garden. These plants are posing in their pots before planting.
This shrub is Hydrangea paniculata ‘DV Pinky’ (Pinky Winky hydrangea). I short listed different H. paniculata, such as Unique, Pink Diamond, Pinky Winky and a few others. How did I narrow it down to this hydrangea? It might be because it is a very healthy specimen, has bright red stems which will look good in winter, grows extra large white panicles that turn deep pink in the fall starting at the bottom, or maybe it was the peer pressure from Joy. It’s a very attractive shrub, and I can’t wait to see what it looks like next year.
These Polygonatum commutatum ‘Giganteum’ (Giant Solomon’s Seal) do not look as good in their pots at the tail end of the season as they will in the ground next year. I’m about to make the classic gardening mistake, “1 metre (3 feet) apart for these little twigs? They’ll look ridiculous; surely I can space them closer.” : )
I will have to show them the ‘Giganteum’ tag to give them some growing inspiration. I have tried different tall shade plants against the fence under the willow, but they usually get a little stunted, whether from the shade, lack of water, or just losing the competition with the willow roots. I’ll see if these will grow to their full height in that tough area. I’ll look forward to the dangling white blooms next spring.
This is Brunnera macrophylla ‘Looking Glass’ (Siberian bugloss). It has the typical heart shaped leaves of Brunnera, with an overall metallic silver cast to them. The flowers are the familiar forget me not blue, that bloom in spring. The Brunnera will be planted with the Athyrium niponicum ‘Pictum’ (Japanese painted ferns). I like the look of the large rounded Brunnera leaves next to more delicate fern foliage, and they both do well in shade. Both plants have some silver in them, but the fern also has purple and red tints. I’m moving two other Japanese painted ferns to make a larger group, along with the new ones I bought.
Here is my latest attempt at getting a bugbane that will flower before the end of the season. My Cimicifuga simplex ‘White Pearl’ (now called Actaea) flowers too late in the fall to get much of a bloom display in zone 3. Cimicifuga ramosa ‘Atropurpurea’ (bugbane) is supposed to flower a little earlier, so I should know by next September if I’ve just bought another foliage plant, or if there will be some white wands. The C. ramosa ‘Atropurpurea’ has more purplish foliage than C. simplex. Cimicifuga at 1.5 m ( 4 to 5 feet) tall is great for the back of the shade border. It makes a useful green backdrop behind other plants, and the leaves are a little more attractive than Aruncus dioicus (goatsbeard), with the Cimicifuga being more delicate and finer cut.
Epimedium grandiflorum ‘Lilafee’ (‘lilac fairy’ barrenwort) is a low growing shade plant that has attractive foliage too. I like the shape of the leaves, and the overall mounding outline of the plant. Some of these leaves have the reddish cast already. When this blooms in the spring it will have purplish flowers, but the plant should look good all season.
This perennial is Geranium ‘Rozanne’. Most sources, including the plant tag, rate this to zone 5, so I was hesitant about trying it. However a customer ahead of me at the till said that she overwinters them with no special treatment, so now I’m optimistic that they’ll do fine in zone 3. This geranium has beautiful blue flowers with a much more pronounced white centre than G. ‘Johnson’s Blue’. I have ‘Johnson’s Blue’ under one side of the lilac, and now a group of Rozanne on the other side in part-shade. Geranium plants fill in quickly, so these should cover the area by next summer, and bloom all season.
I also picked up four more Heuchera ‘Mint Frost’ (mint frost coral bells). This perennial has mint green and silver foliage over the summer, but turns a reddish orange in the fall. My own plants have just begun the change, but these new ones are quite advanced. They should look nice as a clump in front of the Phlox divaricata (wild blue phlox), which look great in spring, but nondescript once their blooms are gone. I think the heuchera will hide the short phlox foliage well, while allowing the phlox blooms to show in spring.
These Helleborus ‘Ivory Prince’ (Lenten Rose) have great foliage, especially considering they’ve been sitting in a nursery pot all season. The leaves are very thick and stiff, with an interesting pattern, so I’m going to put them next to some lacy ferns. I can’t wait to see them bloom next spring. Since they are borderline hardy in zone 3, I will let the willow put them to sleep under a blanket of leaves for extra protection.
There will be a little less grass to mow next summer, once I finish expanding the beds. Planting these perennials involves moving around a number of others, so I’ve been doing a lot of digging and rearranging. One advantage of rearranging in the fall is that most of the plants are full size, so I’m not as tempted to squeeze them too close together like I am in spring. My next post shows how I planted these perennials and shrubs, and combined them in their new shade beds. Although they look a little spindly in their pots right now, I’m picturing them flourishing in the ground next year. I hope that all of these make it safely over the winter, because next spring I’ll be eagerly pulling back the leaf mulch from the flower beds, looking for regenerating shoots. What are you planting this fall?