Here is a before and after comparison of one of my shady garden beds, and how it has been changed from eight years ago. The above picture was taken this June, so the plants are not quite their full summer size. I like the mixture of textures in this bed, from all the different foliage colours and shapes.
At the back is a mockorange shrub, Philadelphus virginalis. It gives a shady green backdrop for the garden bed. In front of the mockorange are a group of Athyrium filix-femina ‘Lady in Red’ (lady fern). These are a fresh green colour with dark red stems. In front of them on the right are some Brunnera macrophylla ‘Mr. Morse’ (Siberian bugloss), with their silver and green leaves. In front of the Brunnera, to the left and right, are some Asarum europaeum (European ginger), with extra shiny leaves. To the left are some Pulmonaria ‘Samourai’ (Samourai lungwort), with long silver white leaves. On the far right edge of the picture are some Trillium grandiflorum.
The before photo of this same area was taken when I first moved into the house 8 years ago. I think it makes a classic before picture, because it’s so bad and decrepit that anything you do to the area has to be an improvement. The before is actually just a bad grassy area in front of a rundown fence. The new bed is near the fence, between the maple tree on the right and the sidewalk on the left.
This is a sideways view of the area now, with the fence on the right. This shows the plants in spring, so they are still a little small here. I like the combination of leaves in the bed, and I think it looks interesting , even when the flowers are gone. There are delicate, finely cut fern fronds, large heart shaped leaves, round shiny leaves, and long matte finished silver leaves. This year the Trilliums are adding their groups of three too.
This view is farther back, to show a bit of the Pulmonaria on the left. There is a new fence behind the Philadelphus virginalis, although it’s mostly covered here when the shrub leafs out. This mockorange has never bloomed for me, but I’m excited this year, as it appears to have buds. I thought perhaps it was too shady a location for it, but if anything, it is even more shady now. We even had a cold winter, and quite a few late spring frosts, which I thought would have decreased the bud count. I’m looking forward to seeing the flowers for the first time. This mockorange has never performed as well as my Philadelphus lewisii ‘Blizzard’.
There is a great sense of satisfaction in creating or renovating a garden bed, and watching it develop. It is fun to see how the plants work together, whether the plant shapes, flowers and leaves look good collectively, and fit their space. Have you been redoing any beds? How do you plan a new area?