Do you know your shade?
Some shade is total; its dense canopy creates dim spots hospitable to few plants.
Partial shade is less exclusive. It lets sunshine leak through thinner layers of leaves or sneak in around the edges for part of the day. More plants are welcome in this dappled environment.
And seasonal shade is the protective kind. In summer, leafy trees keep the hottest of afternoon sun off delicate flowers, and, in winter, evergreen trees protect shrubs from scorching morning sun.
Shade, of course, is everywhere.
Some develops naturally with towering evergreens and broad canopies of oak rising above smaller dogwoods and sourwood. But some shade is gardener-made. You add trees or shrubs to make shade; you reduce it by thinning the canopy, taking off lower limbs and removing undergrowth. And you get protective, seasonal shade by strategic placement.
Many gardeners moan, "I can't grow anything in the shade," but that's not true. You can't turn your shady glen under the oak canopy into a tomato patch. But neither would a space suitable )) for tomatoes be right for a rhododendron, a frothy fern or an elegant hosta.
You evaluate or change your shade and pick the plants to suit the spot.
* Full shade: Mature trees with dense layers of leaves and a broad canopy create full shade in summer. By midsummer, these trees have full-sized leaves and let little light pass through.
Plants for full shade: Forget-me-not wintergreen, ivy, hardy ferns, ajuga, wild ginger, pachysandra, lily of the valley, liriope.
* Filtered shade: Sunlight slips through the lacy layers of pine and dogwood branches. The changing patterns of light through the trees also create lovely patterns of light and shadow.
Plants for filtered shade: Kerria, hydrangeas, rhododendron, pieris, impatiens, hosta, begonia, coleus, foxglove, violets, caladium, mahonia, vinca.
* Seasonal shade: Most broad-leaf evergreen shrubs need protection from the morning sun in winter. And some plants that can stand the cooler morning sun of summer need protection from summer's hot afternoon sun.
Plants for morning shade in winter -- aucuba, gardenia, camellia, leucothoe, azalea.
Plants for afternoon shade in summer -- day lilies, tradescantia, cardinal flower, Lenten rose, hosta.
Pub Date: 9/14/97