Here are the new shade perennials tucked into their beds. Many already have a colourful quilt of leaves snuggled around them, courtesy of the trees. I liked the look of these shade combinations as I planted, so it was hard to stop digging and adding more. I had the greatest urge to plant the whole yard. It’s a good thing the more seasonal cold weather is returning to my Northern garden, putting an end to my additions.
This photo shows the new Helleborus ‘Ivory Prince’ (Lenten rose) next to the Adiantum pedatum (maidenhair fern), and in front of The Brunnera ‘Jack Frost’ (Jack Frost Siberian bugloss). I like the look of these 3 leaf types together, the fine textured fern, large heart shaped Brunnera and stiff, scalloped Helleborus. They look great in the shade, even without any flowers yet. When I saw the Helleborus in the ground under the tree, I was smitten, and went back to the nursery for more.
Here is a picture of the Helleborus ‘Ivory Prince’ with Athyrium ‘Ghost’ (ghost fern) and Brunnera ‘Looking Glass’ (Looking Glass Siberian bugloss) in the shade under a tree. Right now the fern and Looking Glass are fading to brown, and dying down for the year. The Helleborus have a subtle decorative pattern around the veins. I think they will look good next year with the silver tones of the fern and B. ‘Looking Glass’ when the new foliage comes in the spring. The pretty blue flower of the Brunnera, and white flowers of the Helleborus will be a bonus. The bloom times should overlap, but I’ll find out next year.
This shot is a closeup of the Helleborus and Brunnera together. The Helleborus leaves looks perfect, even though they have been hanging out in a pot all season. The Jack Frost foliage looks better and better every month, right up until October.
Here is an unexpected glimpse of spring. When I bought these plants at the end of the season, I thought they would die back rapidly. I was pleasantly surprised that this Epimedium grandiflorum ‘Lilafee’ (lilac fairy barrenwort) developed a flower after I brought it home, and here it is blooming, as if it was spring. We have had incredibly warm weather for the past 2 weeks, but the frost that is supposed to come in a few days should show the Epimedium what season it really is. When I saw how pretty the bloom on ‘Lilafee’ looked, I went back to get more, but they were all gone. If these overwinter well, I will be adding more next year.
Here is the Epimedium grandiflorum ‘Lilafee’ behind Athyrium niponicum ‘Pictum’ (Japanese painted fern). There are four painted ferns paired with the Epimedium in the shade.
The Geranium ‘Rozanne’ are in a grouping under a lilac. I rate them an ‘Excellent’ for effort, putting up new blooms at the end of fall after just being planted. These perennials are good sports, and very accommodating. I hope they prove to be good sports about the winter cold too.
These Cimicifuga ramosa ‘Atropurpurea’ (bugbane) (now classified as Actaea) look very small, even though they came out of large pots with well developed roots. The tall stems had already been cut back in their pots, and these were the new leaves developing. The Cimicifuaga I planted last year grew 1.2 m (4 feet) tall this year, with their unopened flower wands towering up to 1.5 m (5 feet). I hope these are equally tall next year for the back of the border, while displaying their purple tinged leaves.
The bed along the north fence used to have gentle curves to it. Each time I added to the bed, I redesigned the curves. After redoing the edges last spring, the curves were no longer sweeping, but too scalloped. This fall I dug a straight line across, instead, and I planted a group of Heuchera ‘Mint Frost’ in a bare area in front. I also moved some Campanula carpatica (Carpathian bellflower) forward that were getting squished by some developing phlox.
I expanded this patch of Asarum europaeum (European ginger), digging out more grass near the tree trunk. I adore the glossy perfection of these round leaves. They glisten, whether it’s been raining or not. The original patch seems to have no trouble handling shade or tree roots. They are a terrific shady ground cover, and should fill in over the next few seasons.
Here is Hydrangea paniculata ‘DV Pinky’ (Pinky Winky hydrangea), planted at one end of my front bed. I transplanted numerous Convallaria majalis (lily of the valley) underneath it. They look a little worse for wear now, but the hydrangea is fresh and perky. I put a layer of fallen pine needles around it for mulch. The pine tree is right next to the shrub, so I just brushed the needles off of the the sidewalk into the bed, and called it mulch. Being a new shrub, it has some buds that are out of step with the season. I wonder if they will fully open, or be nipped by the frost?
A few of the plants seem a little oddly spaced, because of the tree roots. The trees and I came to a compromise. They kept their large roots exactly where they wanted them, and I planted in between.
Since it gets dark so early now, some nights I was planting by the glow of the motion security lights. When I went behind the willow to plant the Polygonatum commutatum ‘Giganteum’ (giant solomon’s seal), the light went out. I dropped one of them, and its stem broke off. In the dim light, I picked it up, guessed which way was up, and put it in the ground. I may have broken gardening rule # 1, Green Side Up. That’s when you know it’s time to go inside.
Planting in the fall means I have to wait until next year to see how the new beds will look, as they fill in and mature. This is normally late for planting in my zone, but some warm weather and good sales got me in the digging mood. Here is a previous post I wrote describing these new shade perennials. Do you plant more in spring or in the fall?