Dry Shade Garden
Plants grown under large trees must often be fairly drought tolerant. This is because rainfall does not readily penetrate the dense canopy and, even when supplemental water is applied, the roots of the trees greedily absorb whatever water is available.
Northwest native plants that are adapted to this type of woodland environment include evergreen Western Columbine (Aquilegia formosa), Fringecup (Tellima grandiflora) and plants that die back after flowering such as Small Camas (Cammasia quamash), Bleeding Heart (Dicentra formosa) and False Soloman Seal (Maianthemum racemosa). Shade tolerant succulents include the NW native Broadleaved Sedum (Sedum spathulifolium) and non-native Sedum spurium . Drought tolerant non-natives include Epimedium sp.,Cyclamen sp., Dierama pulchellimum, and Tiarella sp.
Moist Shade Garden
We grow some of our more thirsty shade plants in this garden that, in our Northwest dry summer climate, we water deeply once a week. To increase the soil's ability to hold and retain moisture, we worked organic soil amendments into the soil and use a bark mulch. Although the garden bed itself is only slightly raised, the area near the lawn was dug to be slightly below grade. This is a subtle but effective way to improve the drainage of our dense, clay soils. During wet perioids, the excess water will flow from high planted areas to the low trenched area. The point here is that although these woodland plants need regular water, they still need oxygen in the root zone. Plants grown in sodden soils may fail to thrive or develop crown rot and die. The exceptions are plants from moist streamside and bog habitats that are adapted to low oxygen environments, making them the best choice for poorly draining gardens.
Plants grown in this area include Saxifraga cuneifolia, Codonopsis pilosuli, Roscoea auriculata, Red Stem Alchemila (Alchemilla erythropoda), Primula capitata ssp mooreana,Cortusa matthioli f pekinense, Lover Come Back Sedum (Sedum anacampseros),Roscoea auriculata ,Kansu and Gentian (Gentiana gracilipes).
A Sampling of Plants Featured in Our Woodland Gardens
The attractive NW native mountain shrub Rose Meadowsweet (Spiraea splendens var splendens) is easily grown in the bermed woodland rock garden.
Himalayan Blue Poppy (Meconopsis betonicifolia) requires regular summer water and very well drained soil because it is susceptible to crown rot. We grow it in our bermed woodland rock garden with crushed rock mulch. If organic mulch is used, it should be kept away from the crown of the plant.
Partridge Foot (Luetkea pectinata) is an example of a native alpine plant that benefits from some shade during the heat of the day and freely drained soil. It forms an attractive creeping carpet with small spikes of white flowers.
Red Stem Alchemila (Alchemilla erythropoda) grows well in moist, humus rich soil in the moist shady garden.
Primula capitata ssp mooreana is a mid-summer blooming primrose with deep purple flowers accented with silvery farinose powder. Although not a long lived species, it can survive several seasons if given adequately drained soil and regular water.
Delicate primrose relative, Cortusa matthioli f pekinense, has attractive scalloped leaves and clusters of pendant pink flowers. It does best in moderately fertile soil with regular water.
Kansu Gentian (Gentiana gracilipes) is a mid-summer bloomer with long stems of many clusters of blue flowers. This gentian is fairly adaptable and has done well in a variety of garden settings, from sun to shade provided it receives regular water.
The interestingly named Lover Come Back Sedum (Sedum anacampseros) grows well in fairly rich soil in partial shade and has a nice glaucus blue-green colored foliage. Because of its succulent foliage, it is drought tolerant but thrives with regular watering.
Roscoea auriculata is a tuberous perennial with attractive orchid-like flowers in mid to late summer. Prefers a moist, partially shaded woodland garden.