Northern Shade Gardening

Fern and Heuchera Foliage Combination

Tuesday, July 27, 2010 Category: Garden Design

Here’s a fern and Heuchera foliage combination I planted a while ago in a shady corner that I’m really enjoying. At the back is an Athyrium ‘Ghost’ (ghost fern), and in front are two different coral bells, Heuchera ‘Green Spice’ and Heuchera ‘Cinnabar Silver’. I love the silver, purple and green colour scheme to these three plants.

At smaller resolutions, you have to click to see the full photo, since the photo overflow is hidden.

Athyrium fern Heuchera coral bells

Athyrium fern Heuchera coral bells

This is across the walkway from the garden under the evergreens, that I wrote about earlier. This section of garden is extra shady, since it is on the north side of my house with tall conifers. I rearranged this part of the garden bed, and added new Heuchera and the Athyrium ‘Ghost’ at the back in the corner. I’ve planted this fern in a few shady garden areas, since it brightens the bed up with the reflective silvery green fronds.

Heuchera 'Cinnabar Silver' coral bells

Heuchera 'Cinnabar Silver' coral bells

To one side in front are three Heuchera ‘Cinnabar Silver’ (coral bells). There are another three of these Heuchera across the walkway. This cultivar will stay fairly short, including the flower stalks. ‘Cinnabar Silver’ has a wonderful silver sheen, with purple tones on the leaves. The veins are a dark contrast to the metallic leaf. I admire the way this foliage looks with the silver fern.

Heuchera 'Green Spice' 'Eco-improved' coral bells

Heuchera 'Green Spice' 'Eco-improved' coral bells

On the other side in front are three Heuchera ‘Green Spice’ (also called ‘Eco-improved’). These coral bells have slightly silver green leaves with purple running along the veins, making beautiful patterns. The newest leaves have a red colouring along the veins. Around the edge of each scalloped leaf is a medium green band. The foliage of ‘Green Spice’ is fantastic, coordinating well with the woodland plants across the walkway, yet having a little extra dazzle.

Athyrium 'Ghost' fern next to Heuchera

Athyrium 'Ghost' fern next to Heuchera

The Athyrium ‘Ghost’ fern produces a good number of these light green and silver fronds. They develop a very lush look over the season, since they send up new fronds throughout the summer. It grows about 45 cm (18 inches) to 60 cm (2 feet) tall in my garden. This cross between Athrium filix-femina (lady fern) and Athyrium niponicum (Japanese painted fern) is a real winner, both beautiful and hardy.

Athyrium 'Ghost' fern Heuchera 'Green Spice' 'Cinnabar Silver'

Athyrium 'Ghost' fern Heuchera 'Green Spice' 'Cinnabar Silver'

I like the green, silver and purple colour scheme in this garden area now, and it coordinates nicely with the green, silver and white scheme on the other side of the walkway. The green and silver fern, green, silver and purple ‘Green Spice’ and silver and purple ‘Cinnabar Silver’ make an attractive trio. This fern and Heuchera combination can handle the shade cast by the house and trees, and provide beautiful colour with their foliage all season.

Here are some more photos and information about coral bells in my garden, including Heuchera ‘Mint Frost’, and Heuchera ‘Plum Pudding’. You can see the flowers of ‘Cinnabar Silver’ in this article, and here is a comparison of the different Heuchera foliage.

Campanula Lactiflora Prichard’s Variety

Thursday, July 22, 2010 Category: Perennials
Campanula lactiflora 'Prichard's Variety' flower details

Campanula lactiflora 'Prichard's Variety' flower details

Campanula lactiflora ‘Prichard’s Variety’ (milky bellflower) has upward facing, open flowers of a blue lavender colour. It is one of the taller bellflowers, and has light, yellowish green foliage. These can be planted in full sun, but I’ve been pleased with the number of flowers mine develop in part shade.

Campanula lactiflora 'Prichard's Variety' flower closeup

Campanula lactiflora 'Prichard's Variety' flower closeup

The light violet blue flowers of ‘Prichard’s Variety’ are very attractive, and are held at the top of the plants. Each flower has five long petals that curve back away from the bell, with a small white centre.

Campanula lactiflora 'Prichard's Variety' flowers

Campanula lactiflora 'Prichard's Variety' flowers

The flowers of milky bellflower are similar to the dwarf Campanula portenschlagiana (dalmatian bellflower), but Campanula lactiflora holds their flowers much higher at the top of the upright stems, whereas the dalmatian bellflower has rows of blooms along the flower stems that radiate out horizontally along the ground.

Campanula lactiflora 'Prichard's Variety' with Geranium

Campanula lactiflora 'Prichard's Variety' with Geranium

When seen next to the Geranium ‘Rozanne’, ‘Prichard’s Variety’ are actually a bluish lavender colour, but on their own they look light blue. In the above photo, the geranium is showing its usual habit of weaving in between neighbouring plants. This trait can create some pretty pairings, and these two perennials look good entwined together. There is more about Geranium ‘Rozanne’ here.

Campanula lactiflora 'Prichard's Variety' lavender flowers

Campanula lactiflora 'Prichard's Variety' lavender flowers

The lighter coloured leaves of ‘Prichard’s Variety’ have a yellow cast to the green, so they would show up well next to darker foliage. Campanula lactiflora grows about 60 cm (around 2 feet) tall, with each plant producing a number of stems. At the back of the photo, are the silver leaves of Pulmonaria (lungwort), which also look good with the milky bellflower.

Campanula lactiflora 'Prichard's Variety' one perennial

Campanula lactiflora 'Prichard's Variety' one perennial

The above photo shows one milky bellflower plant, so  you can see that each plant gets a fair number of blooms. I planted mine last year, and each plant now has about 20 stems, with a group of flowers at the top of each stem. Campanula lactiflora ‘Prichard’s Variety’ is a pretty, easy care bellflower that will produce a good flower show in summer. You can read about more a variety of  Campanula (bellflowers) in this earlier article.

Campanula lactiflora 'Prichard's Variety' with Geranium 'Rozanne'

Campanula lactiflora 'Prichard's Variety' with Geranium 'Rozanne'

Shady Garden with Blue White and Pink Flowers

Saturday, July 10, 2010 Category: Garden Design
patio west Heucherella Campanula and planter

patio west Heucherella Campanula and planter

Here is a shady garden bed with blue, pink and white flowers that I recently rearranged. It gets some morning sun for a short while, and then some dappled shade. There are perennials in the border, and a pot of annuals on the corner that blends right in. Since I planted the container first, I might have got the colour scheme for the perennial bed from it.

Heucherella 'Tapestry' and Campanula cochlearifolia 'Bavaria Blue'

Heucherella 'Tapestry' and Campanula cochlearifolia 'Bavaria Blue'

The pink flowers are Heucherella ‘Tapestry’ (foamy bells). This perennial is a cross between Heuchera (coral bells) and Tiarella (foamflower), showing some of the best traits for both. It has beautiful leaf markings, but the flowers are much showier than most Heuchera. The Heucherella like more light than Heuchera. ‘Tapestry’ is  new to my garden this year. I’m very taken with these beautiful plants, and hope that they are hardy. I’ll definitely be planting more of them.

Update: These Heucherella overwintered just fine, and still look great.

Heucherella 'Tapestry' foamy bells leaves

Heucherella 'Tapestry' foamy bells leaves

The leaves of this Heucherella remind me of the foliage of Heuchera ‘Green Spice’ (coral bells), with a green background and dark purple coloured veins. These plants are very attractive. I have some Heuchera with all purple leaves in another part of the garden, and I think ‘Tapestry’ would make a good bridge between them and other green plants if planted next to them.

Heucherella 'Tapestry' foamy bells flower

Heucherella 'Tapestry' foamy bells flower

Here is a closeup of the gorgeous pink flower spikes of ‘Tapestry’. They are thick stalks with very noticeable flowers, in a pretty pink colour. The blooms also last a long time, over six weeks already. You could grow ‘Tapestry’ for the flowers alone, even if they didn’t have decorative leaves. In the background is a Colocasia leaf in the planter with pink and blue flowers.

Campanula cochlearifolia 'Bavaria Blue' flowers

Campanula cochlearifolia 'Bavaria Blue' flowers

The little blue flowers in the garden bed are Campanula cochlearifolia ‘Bavaria Blue’ (fairy thimble bellflowers). I also have these perennials in another garden section, and added them here for a little more blue colour. With a multitude of tiny blooms, these dwarf bellflowers are colourful and charming.

Campanula portenschlagiana 'Blue Waterfall' flowers by Heucherella

Campanula portenschlagiana 'Blue Waterfall' flowers by Heucherella

Another dwarf bellflower in this garden bed is Campanula portenschlagiana ‘Blue Waterfall’ (Serbian bellflower). The flowers are just opening, but there are lots more buds to bloom soon. The pretty stars of this Campanula bloom in rows all along the flower stems, which mostly radiate out in sprays along the  ground. This was already planted at the front corner, and you can see how short it is, by the Heucherella towering over it behind.

Actaea ramosa 'Atropurpurea' with Heucherella 'Tapestry'

Actaea ramosa 'Atropurpurea' with Heucherella 'Tapestry'

The tall plant in the middle is Actaea ramosa ‘Atropurpurea’ (bugbane, used to be Cimcifuga). It will grow two metres (six feet) in height by late summer, and will have beautiful tall spikes of cream coloured flowers, high above the other plants. It coordinates well with the Heucherella, because both of them have purple on their leaves. ‘Tapestry’ has conspicuous purple in a pattern along the veins of the leaf, and this Actaea has subtle purple edges to the leaves, as well as purple stems.

Actaea racemosa with Campanula cochlearifolia 'Bavaria Blue'

Actaea racemosa with Campanula cochlearifolia 'Bavaria Blue'

The photo above shows Actaea racemosa (bugbane) with Campanula flowers underneath. This Actaea also has cream flower wands over 2 metres (6 feet) tall, and was already planted here.  Bugbanes make great plants for some height in a shady garden. I find the scientific naming of Actaea a little confusing, and it might be that these are actually the same. They were switched from Cimicifuga, which is straightforward, but I see ‘Atropurpurea’ listed as a cultivar for both of these species and they look very much alike. You can see photos of Actaea flowering in my garden.

Osmunda regalis royal fern

Osmunda regalis royal fern

In between are two Osmunda regalis (royal ferns) in the spotlight above. The fronds of this fern are a light green, which gives them a little glow next to darker leaves. Some lighter coloured foliage show up well in a shady garden. Both of the sections above belong to one plant. The second fern  is behind and can’t really be seen in this photo. This one was originally planted in back, because I thought it would grow taller, so I moved it forward to better enjoy the foliage.

Osmunda regalis royal fern with Campanula cochlearifolia 'Bavaria Blue'

Osmunda regalis royal fern with Campanula cochlearifolia 'Bavaria Blue'

Osmunda regalis has a bit of a shrub appearance. These are supposed to grow quite tall, but don’t get beyond 60 cm (2 feet) tall in my garden. They probably need a longer growing season to reach their full height, or perhaps a warmer climate. One thing they really like is water. They make nice garden plants, even if they don’t get to two metres (6 feet) in my garden. Now that I’ve moved this one to the front of the bed, I hope it doesn’t put on a growth spurt after five years.

Begonia 'Non-Stop Pink' lobelia colocasia esculenta

Begonia 'Non-Stop Pink' lobelia colocasia esculenta

The planter in the corner has a tall Colocasia esculenta (elephant ear) in the middle. There are Begonia ‘Non-Stop Pink’ putting on a good floral show around it with their double flowers, as well as some pink double Impatiens, and blue Lobelia cascading over the edge.

Begonia 'Non-Stop Pink' and lobelia planter

Begonia 'Non-Stop Pink' and lobelia planter

Here is a closeup of the lovely double begonia flowers. They don’t mind the shade, and seem to thrive in the extra water that the Colocasia gets.

Colocasia esculenta elephant ear plant

Colocasia esculenta elephant ear plant

This closeup of the Colocasia esculenta leaf shows the wonderful leaf texture and size. If there is anything better than a nice big leaf, it’s a big wet leaf in the rain. It makes an umbrella for the begonia, one of which is peeking out to see if the rain has stopped.

patio west Heucherella 'Tapestry' and pot

patio west Heucherella 'Tapestry' and pot

This garden bed in part shade has pink and blue flowers, and there will be white from the Actaea in late summer. Continuing along, just to the north of this section, is a Philadelphus (mockorange) shrub with white blooms, while to the south are some Lamprocampnos spectabilis ‘Alba’ (bleeding hearts, used to be Dicentra) with white flowers. You can see a few of the bleeding heart flowers still left at the back of the photo above. I used to have some daylilies where the Heucherella are, but it is more shaded now, and they weren’t doing as well. I instantly liked the new arrangement in the shady garden, as soon as it was finished.