My grandmother use to tell me the fairies live in the mossy shadows under leaf and limb. As a child, I would sit on the green carpet, under the canopy of dogwoods shading the quiet, cool space waiting and watching for the imps to emerge. That’s where my love for shade gardens began, bringing back summer memories of afternoon respite. In addition to grandmothers story telling, she would complain about very little growing in the shade, which left room for the fairies to congregate. Fairy congregations do welcome company with a variety of botanical wonders. I’ve discovered several and name a few here that will keep you blooming with flora; adding color year-round. Plant these specimens in the darker areas and set quietly and enjoy. You might even catch a fairy emerge!
Bergenia cordifolia (Pigsqueak) is an early spring bloomer in the shade garden, brightening up the shadows.The leaves are rounded and as large as eighteen inches across. The stems are stalky and emerge with dark red hints of color topped with medium pink clusters. Clipping will instigate further blooms so clip away. It’s fall foliage color excites in shades of scarlet, bronze and orange giving more interest in the shade.
Astilbe hybrids give lots of variety in color including shades of pink, salmon, lavender, red and white. The leaves are fern like and give a beautiful delicate texture to any shade garden. Astilbe hybrids are deer tolerant and can be used for water gardens or firescaping/fire wise uses. Bloom time: Late Spring to Early Summer.
Heuchera (Coral bells) varieties give the novice gardener a plethora of choices when one can’t find colorful blooms. This plant is collected for the colorful foliage interest rather than its inconspicuous flowers.
Colors of heucheras range from pale peaches, pinks, mauves, lavenders, lime to dark burgundy. Combining colors in a colorful quilt pattern brings brightness, beauty and variety to the shade garden.
Hellebores (Lenten Rose) give the gardener in early spring another choice to consider. Being an evergreen, this plant is a delight in early spring as its nodding headed flowers open to colors of pink, dark red, lime green, white and similar combinations. Another accolade for this plant is its deer proof and tolerates dry shade. These early bloomers are a welcome delight after a cold, long winter growing nicely under deciduous shrubs and trees.
Tricyrtis hirta Miyazaki (Toad Lilies) These pretty little things make the stroller stop and bend over looking closer at the striking flower with its spotted and speckled pattern. The gardener would be amiss without this beauty in the shade garden supplying a preferred cut flower in any arrangement. When most plants are winding down for the fall, this favorite is coming into its glory in September and October.
What plants do you add to your fairy garden for your children and grandchildren?