Articles in Category: Shade Plants

Sarcococca

on Friday, 10 January 2020. Posted in Winter Interest, Fragrant Blooms, Attracts Pollinators, Evergreen, Shade Plants, Ground Cover, Deer Resistant, Shrubs, Flowering Plants

Fragrant Sweetbox

Sarcococca ruscifolia

Dark and shady places - like the north walls of a home - can be extremely challenging sites to plant. Sarcococca, or Sweetbox, is an ideal shrub for low-light situations like this. Thriving in everything from part sun to deep shade, Sweetbox is an attractive, broad-leafed evergreen with glossy dark green leaves that provides a good backdrop for airier ferns and flowering shade perennials. 

There are a handful of different species ranging from upright shrubs to slowly spreading groundcovers. They all have simple leathery leaves and are for the most part deer resistant, making this genus a true problem solver in a myriad of ways. Not to mention they bloom in late winter when most plants haven't even broken dormancy! 

Even though their small fringy flowers are not what you would consider showy, they amply make up for it with a powerfully sweet, vanilla-like fragrance that is sure to get attention. Add in red to black berries that lend a festive quality later in the year, and you've got a great four-season plant!

In return, this understated plant merely asks for moderately fertile soil with decent drainage and regular water throughout the hotter months. That is not to say Sweetbox wouldn't prefer rich, humusy and acidic soil, but it is quite adaptable once established. 

 

Here are some of our favorite types:

 

Sarcococca ruscifolia or Fragrant Sweetbox is the largest of the more common species reaching 3-6' high and wide with an arching habit and more rounded leaves. It is known to naturally espalier itself against a house and thus can be useful in tight spots and under windows. Its growth is slow to moderate and can easily be kept at 3’.

Sarcococca 'Fragrant Valley' is a compact yet vigorous selection growing to 18-24" tall and 3-4' wide. 

Sarcococca 'Fragrant Mountain' attains a slightly larger size at 2-3' tall and 3-4' wide, making it a great alternative to Skimmia japonica. 

All of these varieties are disease resistant and tolerant of drier soils and less than ideal conditions. Sarcococca species are great supporting cast members for the shady garden (…we can't all be stars...) - and a must have for lovers of fragrant plants!

Helleborus orientalis

on Friday, 27 December 2019. Posted in Winter Interest, Evergreen, Shade Plants, Perennial, Deer Resistant, Drought Tolerant, Flowering Plants

Lenten Rose

Hellebore 1

Hellebores, also known as Lenten Roses, are one of those perennials you didn't know you needed - until you see them blooming their hearts out during the gray winter and early spring months. They bring a smile every time. Hellebores can be found in a variety of shades shades of pink, purple, cream, white, chartreuse, or even a deep purple-black, and more varieties are available every year. 

 

Hellebore 2Their long-lasting blooms rise 12"-18"above robust, dark green foliage and have a nodding habit that is best appreciated massed in the foreground of a garden or from below. Hellebores bloom for several months, and also make great cut flowers. 

 

Hellebore 3When these evergreen perennials aren't blooming, their dramatic, divided leaves provide a nice contrast to daintier ferns and ornamental grasses. Like most evergreen perennials, if their leaves become older and battered-looking, it's best to cut them back completely and let fresh, new leaves flush out. Hellebores tolerate dry conditions once established, and do best in partial shade: think east exposure, or under the dappled light of larger trees and shrubs. They look especially good as a mass groundcover under a specimen tree. Give them good organic soil with new mulch added each year and they will reward you with easy-care flowers and sculptural leaves.  

 

Hellebore 4Hellebores also do well in a containers and make a great addition to a shady porch potted arrangement with black mondo grass, Compact Mahonia, Heucheras, Ferns, and other shade lovers. They're also deer resistant - a real plus here in the Rogue Valley. Be aware, though: Hellebores are poisonous to humans and animals so be careful when placing them near children's activity areas or dog runs. 

 

Hellebore 5If you're looking to brighten up your winter garden this year, come by and take a look at our Hellebores. They're a wonderful way to remind yourself that spring is on the way!

Heaths and Heathers

on Thursday, 21 November 2019. Posted in Winter Interest, Evergreen, Fall Color, Shade Plants, Deer Resistant, Shrubs

Heaths and Heathers

EricaHeaths and Heathers are two closely-related evergreen shrubs that are great additions to the shade or partial shade garden. 

Heaths (Erica sp., see photo to the left) have needle-like leaves and bloom during the winter, a welcome sight during those cold, gray months! Plants are low growing - generally from 6" to 15" tall by 2' wide - and have flowers in shades of white, pink, and purple. Heaths can tolerate full sun, but are also happy in partial sun. 

CallunaHeathers (Calluna sp., see photo to the right), on the other hand, have scale-like leaves and bloom from summer through the fall. They get a bit larger than Heaths; generally growing from 1' to 2' tall by up to 3' wide. Flowers are also various shades of white, pink, and purple. Heathers do best in part-sun, and can be a little fussy about watering (they don't like being over-watered or under-watered).

Both Heaths and Heathers prefer well-drained soils, and are relatively deer-resistant and undemanding. As an extra bonus, many varieties of Heath and Heather have foliage that colors up nicely in fall weather, in shades ranging from copper to orange to red. If you plant a mixture of the two, you'll end up with something in bloom for most of the year - along with some great fall color!

Ribes odoratum 'Crandall'

on Wednesday, 27 February 2019. Posted in Plant of the Week, Berries Attract Wildlife, Fragrant Blooms, Attracts Pollinators, Fall Color, Shade Plants, Edible, Shrubs, Drought Tolerant, Flowering Plants

'Crandall' Black Currant

ribes crandall

Here is a stellar plant that is beautiful, as well as edible and good for the birds.  This Black Currant is woefully under utilized, perhaps people haven't eaten a currant before or not visited the nursery when they are in bloom.  But come visit in April and you will see a drift of them planted in part shade in our drought tolerant display garden.    Ideally close enough to the rock pile for little hands to pick the fruit when they ripen in summer.  And beckoning you for a closer look with their clove scented, yellow blooms.  Appealing to hummingbirds and butterflies, the flowers develop into black, round fruit that are tart/sweet with a more mild currant flavor and especially high in Vitamin C.  My daughter loves to pick them fresh but they can be made into preserves or baked goods or dried.   Then the fall brings out gorgeous red fall color.  Most currants would appreciate a spot out of extreme heat but will tolerate full sun with good water.  Part shade or morning sun is ideal.  They will get 4-5' tall and wide.  Currants can be drought tolerant once established and do best in a well-draining but compost-rich soil.  They can be a great addition to a mixed use garden- full of edible and ornamental power!

Ribes sanguineum 'King Edward'

on Sunday, 16 April 2017. Posted in Attracts Pollinators, Native, Shade Plants, Shrubs, Drought Tolerant, Flowering Plants

King Edward Red Flowering Currant

ribes-sanguineum

Flowering currants are at their best in late April with their cascades of flowers and scalloped leaves, but late fall and early spring is the best time to plant natives to get them established before the summer heat. 'King Edward' has darker pink flowers than the species but both attract hummingbirds, and then songbirds with the dark blue berries that follow the flowers. They are a great native that can take dry shade under an oak or other large tree.  Morning sun or dappled shade is best and don't overdo the summer water, they are used to summer drought and winter wet.  Flowering currants grow quickly and have a lovely open habit that mixes well with other plants.  They can get at least 4-5' tall and wide.  We also have the yellow blooming species- Ribes aureum, whose flowers seem even more scented and has vibrant red/orange fall color.  Flowering currants are great as part of a mixed screen or hedge in dappled light.