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Gardening Answers Knowledgebase

Search Results for: Shade gardening | Catalog search for: Shade gardening

PAL Questions: 2 - Garden Tools: 1 - Recommended Websites: 1

Keywords: Brunnera, Stachys, Liriope, Epimedium, Lamium, Rock garden plants, Shade gardening, Ground cover plants, Geranium

PAL Question:

I'm looking to plant in a narrow strip on our retaining walls some "spiller" plants which will overhang the walls (which face north).

I'd prefer evergreen plants which would fill in fairly quickly, but I could also mix in slower-growing and deciduous plants. There's great drainage since I have gravel reservoirs behind each wall, and the part of the plant above the wall will get part to full sun, though I could overplant them if necessary for a plant that couldn't handle full sun.

I would like plants with interesting foliage and form to soften the look of the walls, and so would prefer a furry look to a spiny one. Flowers and fragrance are less important though always nice, and I'm hoping to have at least 2 or 3 different plant types with different colored foliage (shades of green are fine).


Some of the plants that occur to me, based on the description of your site, are Brunnera macrophylla, Epimedium, Geranium phaeum, Stachys byzantina, Lamium maculatum, and Liriope. Of these, the Geranium and Lamium will trail somewhat, while the others are essentially upright.

Graham Rice's article on the Royal Horticultural Society site features a selection of recommended trailing (or spilling) plants. Here is another good list of trailing plants for walls.

You could also try entering your site requirements into the plant-finding and plant selection web pages below:

Great Plant Picks (a local site)

King County's native plant guide

Missouri Botanic Garden Plant Finder

Royal Horticultural Society Plant Selector

The Miller Library has many books on gardening in the shade, so you may wish to come in and do some research to help you in your plant selection. Here is a booklist that may be of interest.

Season All Season
Date 2016-12-17
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Keywords: Vegetable gardening, Shade gardening

PAL Question:

I have set up four-by-eight-foot raised vegetable beds in the only available spot in my backyard (here in the Pacific Northwest). In winter, the house casts its shadow over the entire bed area. With the progress of the seasons, the shadow recedes and leaves the beds entirely in the sun only by approximately mid-May. Similarly, the house shadow again begins to encroach on the bed area by the beginning of August.

What can I grow with this ultrashort growing season? What vegetables, if any, are likely to succeed here?


It sounds like you have about 75 days of well-lit growing season.The Maritime Northwest Garden Guide by Carl Elliott and Rob Peterson (Seattle, WA: Seattle Tilth, 1998) lists several varieties of vegetables come to harvest within 75 days in our area, and here's what I see:

  • carrots
  • swiss chard
  • cress
  • kohlrabi
  • lamb's quarters
  • lettuce (if picked young)
  • arugula
  • spinach
  • summer squash
  • turnips

In 10 Terrific Vegetables, produced by the National Gardening Association, the author suggests that vegetable gardens require at least 6 hours of sun per day (South Burlington, Vt. : National Gardening Association, 2002). Some fast-maturing vegetable varieties listed include 'Green Comet' Broccoli (40 days) 'Packman' broccoli (53 days), Kentucky Wonder beans (60 days), Romano beans (75 days), basil (70days), 'Amsterdam' and 'Nantes' carrots (60 days), 'Sugarsnap' peas (62 days--and they should be planted earlier, before the soil warms), 'North Star' red pepper (60 days), 'Melody,' 'Space,' 'Tyee,' and 'Bloomsdale Longstanding' spinach (all under 45 days), 'Sun Gold' tomato (57 days).

In general, you can find the number of days to maturity listed on the back of seed packets, so you can check if the varieties you want will ripen in time. Another quick-harvest vegetable is the radish, which can be ready to eat in just a few weeks. I've also had some luck with potatoes in less-sunny locations, although they do take a fair amount of space.

You might also consider growing raspberries, which don't need sun quite as much as vegetables, in one of your beds.

Season All Season
Date 2016-11-17
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Keywords: Lindera, Shade-tolerant plants, Epimedium, Carex, Shade gardening, Cyclamen

Garden Tool: If you think a shady garden is a liability there is a good book that will change your mind. Gardening in the Shade (Horticulture Books, 2004) was compiled from articles that originally appeared in Horticulture Magazine. The book is divided into four sections: techniques, general design, plant for shade and step by step projects. Some of the plants suggested are Epimedium, sedge, Cyclamen and Japanese Spicebush (Lindera obtusiloba). Any one with cedar trees in their garden will want to read the essay by a local Northwest writer on coping with dry shade. Other resources for shade gardening include the classic book, The Complete Shade Gardener by George Schenk (Timber Press, 1984) and the web page created by University of Missouri Extension.

Season: All Season
Date: 2006-10-23
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March 22 2017 13:26:25