I’ve been expanding the shady bed that I created under the conifer trees in the front yard. Some of the branches are low, so I’ve added some shorter groundcover plants where there isn’t as much room. The newest woodland additions are Asarum arifolium (wild ginger), Hepatica nobilis (liverleaf) and Brunnera macropylla ‘Looking Glass’ (siberian bugloss).
I love the texture of the natural mulch that has accumulated under the conifers. There is a layer of decomposing tree debris that is as thick as my trowel blade. The ground is very easy to plant in. I can make the planting holes with my bare hands, since it’s so soft. The new plants will thrive in this location.
Here are the Asarum arifolium plants that I ordered. They looked very healthy as I unpacked them. The rootballs were nice and moist. The leaves are in good shape for having been through the mail.
These Asarum arifolium are good looking wild gingers. However, I’m not sure if they will be fully hardy in zone 3. My Asarum europaeum have overwintered fine, so I went with ten of these groundcover plants. If they do well, I’ll expand the group next spring. They should fill in, and cover the ground with their wonderful leaves eventually.
Aren’t the leaves a great shape? They are halfway between an arrow and a heart shape. In the above photo two above, you can see the variety of leaf shapes, from arrow on the right, to heart on the left. Some of the leaves have faint markings. The markings should get more silvery as the plants grow, so I think they will fit in well with the silver colours running through this bed.
The roots of these Asarum had a very strong ginger smell as I unpacked and planted them. I think they’ll thrive in all the natural mulch that has accumulated here, and the conditions under the trees. By spring I’ll see if they tolerate the Edmonton winter temperatures.
Here is a group of Brunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’ at the front of the bed. The leaves are holding up well to the mild frosts. I’ve added a group of Brunnera macrophylla ‘Looking Glass’, which will have the most silver colour of all the perennials here, since they develop a strong overall silver colour in summer. The newly added Looking Glass is just around the pine, but their leaves don’t look as good as these yet.
This is a group of Hepatica nobilis‘, which will have blue flowers in spring. They arrived dormant, so most of the interesting parts are underground right now. You can just see the green tips of two of the plants from the group of five. They should enjoy the shady location, with lots of humus, from decomposing tree debris. I got the idea for adding these from Dave at The Home Bug Garden.
Here are some of the Aruncus aethusifolius plants. that are planted on the west edge. There is a group of seven plants that go around the pine trunks to the left here. They will have creamy flowers next summer.
These Epimedium grandiflorum ‘Lilafee’ (lilac fairy barrenwort) that were planted earlier are thriving in this location, and expanding to cover their area. The light green leaves with the asymmetrical heart shapes show up well. In late spring they will have purple flowers with long spurs, held up above the leaves.
The two little Hosta ‘Ginko Craig’ are doing well so far. They are supposed to be good spreaders, so they should fill their section under the tree. The narrow margin of white on the leaves gives a little glimmer in the darker area under the trees.
There is a group of about 15 Cornus canadensis (bunchberry) now. I’ve been adding to this group as I found more in local greenhouses. They already look as if they are a natural part of the woodland floor, and you’d hardly know they have been recently planted. I’ve seen large patches of these spreading out under conifers in the mountains, so they will enjoy this shady site.
This natural groundcover should fill in well. I might end up adding some twinflower with them, as I’ve seen that combination in the forest, and the combination is an attractive woodland look.
I’ve been gradually expanding this woodland bed all summer, weaving between the conifers. I’m going for a look midway between a garden and a forest floor in this shady bed. These will probably be the last plants added for this year, since we are getting much cooler temperatures now. I have some ideas for more additions, and will probably start again in spring. I’d like to add some Polygonatum odoratum ‘Variegatum’, and some Pulmonaria. I’ve been very pleased with how healthy all the plants have been so far. They seem to be doing very well under the conifers. In spring, I’ll see how they overwintered here, and will expand this bed out to the north, to the next spruce tree. Here is an earlier post, about when this shade garden was first planted. This post shows some of the additional shade plantings. Here is another update from 2010 of the shady garden plants under the evergreens. You can read about many of the Tiarella (foamflowers) I have planted under these trees in this article from 2012.