• Winter is a great time of year to sit back and dream of new gardens to grow in your landscape. One trend that continues across the country is shade gardening. As landscapes mature and building continues, more and more gardeners are faced with shade in many parts of their yard. We can get frustrated that this shade prevents us from growing the sun-loving flowers we want, or we can treat it as an opportunity.917In some parts of the country, afternoon shade is actually welcome, preventing flowers from burning up. But in many areas, you have to get creative about gardening in shade. Luckily, plant breeders have created a broad selection of flowers that grow well in shade and offer not only attractive flowers but also interesting leaf colors and textures. Here are some tips for designing your flower garden for shade:

    Types of Shade: Not all shade is created equal. If you have part-shade conditions where your garden gets at least four hours of sun a day, your plant options are pretty broad. If you have shadier spots with less direct light, your options will depend on what’s causing the shade. A solid structure, such as a wall or building, creates absolute shade, whereas the canopy of a large deciduous tree filters light and creates dappled shade. Shade under evergreens may be so dense that mulch may be your only option.

    Types of Plants: Mix and match your plants with your type of shade. Many flowering plants, such as bleeding hearts, fuchsia, and alyssum, will take part shade and flower well. In deeper shade, the flowering plant list shrinks, but begonias, impatiens, and hosta will still flower well under dappled light. Some plants have colorful leaves that make flowering a nonissue. Coleus, coral bells, and sweet potato vine have leaves that add brightness to a dark landscape.

    Types of Materials: Shade gardens don’t have to be only about plants. Consider adding other elements that will add interest. Colorful rock steppingstones can brighten up a pathway. Statuary and artwork can be focal points that lead a visitor through your garden. Benches, natural logs, and rocks can also give a shade garden a more natural look. Water is a great element in shade gardens. Consider creating a small stream and growing water-loving plants beside it.