Elaine’s View

It’s been quite awhile since I spent any time in the garden that I call Elaine’s View.  Elaine lives in the house next door.  A few years back, I gave her a hard time (in a teasing way) for letting the garden on her side of the driveway pretty much go to pot.  I reminded her that I stand in the kitchen looking out at her driveway while I do the dishes.  It would be nice if I had something colorful to look at!  She obliged, and really got that plot in order.

I haven’t really returned the favor lately.

Our houses are side by side, facing west.  So the way the shadows fall, my side of the driveway is north-facing, and extremely shady.  Her side of the driveway is south-facing, and very conducive to lovely flowers.

I finally decided to investigate some shade loving plants, and I put some effort into creating what turned out to be a very nice shade garden.

I found some Jacob’s ladder, some Solomon’s Seal, a few hostas, a few ferns.

And just when I thought the border looked pretty darn good, the new A/C unit was moved and now sits right smack in the middle of the plot, and I have to start all over again.

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Any suggestions on how to mask that beast?  It looks like a focal point of Elaine’s View.

I don’t want to impede the work it does to cool our house, but if it this unit can be fenced in or blocked somehow, I’d be a very happy camper . . . er, gardener!

Any thoughts?

 

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The Hellebores Survived!

About a year ago, I wrote about my discovery of hellebores.  I ordered a couple from Spring Hill Nurseries, and plopped them in Elaine’s View garden, not sure what to expect.

As I knew would happen, with spring the hostas quickly took over the site, and I thought I had lost the hellebores.  This fall, as I was cleaning up the shade garden and preparing for winter, I stumbled upon a couple of plants that looked not quite like weeds.  There was something a bit more sturdy to the stems, a bit more green than the blanching mishmash of weeds and spent hostas.

Something told me not to cut, but to wait, be patient, maybe I can identify these guys.

When I ordered the hellebores, I was concentrating solely on the blooms.  I found two that promised red blooms, one that promised a ruffled edge, one a deep red.

I really wanted to add some spicy color to the endless sea of green hostas – the only plant that seems to survive on that side of the house.

Blue Hosta

The sunlight is very minimal on that stark, northern exposed garden bed.  Our tall, two-story house shades that side liberally all day, with only a sparse amount of afternoon sun hitting the ground in mid summer.

I’ve stubbornly tried so many plants there, losing plants too numerous to mention.  Hard lesson learned – know your plants expectations and follow THEIR rules.  But the hostas do extremely well there.  I’ve added a sampling of fern last year, and when I discovered the hellebores, I was giddy with anticipation!

But I forgot to take note of the foliage.

I think these might be them!

Of course, I Googled “Hellebore leaves”, and thankfully discovered that, yes, yes indeed, these two mystery survivors are the hellebores!

We haven’t had any trace of snow yet this year, but I’m sure it’s a coming!  And from what I’ve read, they will survive!  I will make a note to look at them in early February, and see if I can trim back the leaves from last year.  I will be looking with great anticipation for the unfurling of the new leaves, and the (hopefully) plentiful buds.  Until then.

What’s your favorite shade plant?  I could really use some suggestions on what to add to my shade collection!

Puttin’ on my shades

I really haven’t thought much about the shade garden for the past few years. It was my ‘original’ original, the first garden I planted from scratch, so to speak. So much work to prepare the ground and find the right plants to survive in the shade of my beloved crabapple tree.

Crabapple

As in most gardens in areas that freeze, some of the perennials make it through the winter, some do not. That’s the main reason I have tried to map out my gardens, so that from year to year, I will recognize what pops its head out in the spring.  Most of what has survived from year to year in my shade garden, without much attention from me, are the numerous hostas.  Once I realized how unbelievably easy they are to start, I gathered many varieties.  My favorite is a blue leaved giant variety I found at Spring Hill Nurseries.

Blue Hosta

I’m not a fan of the flowers that this specimen produces, as they are a bit obscene.  I snip them before they even bloom.

I have a few astilbes that I love, a deep red one and a beautiful white one.  The color fades on these, but even the dead stems add texture and variety to the garden.  Most of the color of this garden, however, comes from the impatiens that I plant regularly.  The search is on for some colorful items that recover as nicely as all the hostas.

I found a lovely blog this morning called Carolyn’s Shade Garden that introduced me to an interesting shade flower called Snowdrops.  Turns out its a winter flower, and I was so excited to realize that Carolyn gardens in Bryn Mawr, PA which happens to be a zone 7a area.  Not much different that my zone 5b.

Snowdrops

I cannot wait to enhance my Shade Garden with some of the flowers I plan to purchase from Carolyn.  She offers Snowdrops and hostas on her website.  She speaks on cyclamen, and I’d love to obtain the secret of a successful cyclamen. Mine have a very interesting leaf, but lately all that I see from my crop are single pink flowers, no leaves.  Also plentiful on Carolyn’s site were Hellebores.

I was first introduced to Hellebores at the Philadelphia Flower show.  Last year, the theme was a British theme.  With England being the home of native Hellebores, most of the displays featured Hellebores of the soft green and white variety.  Subtle yet impressive; but if there are colorful Hellebores to be had, I’m gonna find them also!

Another website that I visited, A Way to Garden offers some good information on caring for Hellebores, in addition to information on adding a water feature to the garden.

Great plans are in the making for The Crabapple Shade Garden this year!