Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Shade Gardening Workshop Report

A Shade Lady
On July 6 it was hot by 9 a.m. so a woodland stroll through two cool, summer refuges was the perfect activity for the Master Gardeners of Penn State Extension, Franklin County Shade Gardening Workshop.

Master Gardeners Denise Lucas and Nancy Miller - the Shade (not shady!) Ladies - welcomed sixteen visitors to their gardens.

With a "challenging shade area under some locust trees,"  Becky Schubert, Greencastle, said she came to get some ideas.

The group gathers on Nancy's lawn

Denise and Nancy talk shade

They started out defining the characteristics of the different "shades of shade" - light, medium (part sun), and full. And be aware that shade changes as the sun moves across the sky.

Connie Strunk, Chambersburg, was "impressed with her [Nancy Miller's] shade data collection" of where and when the sun fell in her yard. She is planning to do this in her yard.

Textures are a basic shade element

Shade gardening is an opportunity to explore and play with different shades of green (and don't forget the occasional pop of color), texture and plant forms. At the right, a clematis vine with a pop of purple, slender bulb leaves and a lacy Japanese maple in the background play against the stones and ceramic fountain.

Coming up with a plan was on Laura Wentling's mind as she toured the gardens. As Nancy Miller's daughter she was noting specific plants she liked. "Once I come up with a plan," Wentling said, "she [Nancy] will come over. I will probably get some free plants, too."

A small "house" is a focal point in Nancy's plan
One interesting idea was to treat your outdoor space as you do your house - create small rooms or themed areas around the yard. Create a "door" with an attractive entrance that leads into the garden. An arbor or wooden bridge is a ready-made basic entry.

Side entry to Nancy's back garden area
The "floors" of your garden can be mulch, pine needles, grass, stones, or tiles while the "walls" could be fences, hedges, tall borders or shrubs. Decorate the walls with items that please you- chimes or hanging baskets of plants in the lower limbs of trees, sculptures, unusual planters and whimsical items such as a toad house or ceramic animal.
Tucked among the coneflowers

Overhead vines, arbors or pruned and shaped trees can provide "ceilings" but a peek of the sky as the sun moves is also interesting. Seating can be as formal as a table and chairs, a bench or even a tree stump.

Nancy created a great spot to sit and visit

A bench provides a place to sit and enjoy nature
Other ideas are to create areas such as a Japanese theme or a patriotic garden with red, white and blue. Garden areas that attract wildlife might include bird feeders and houses, water features and plants to lure butterflies and bees.

The wide variety of shapes and colors of hostas was a highlight in both gardens with both Nancy and Denise challenged to remember names such as Hanky-Panky, Guacamole, Patriot and Mouse Ears.

Many different varieties of hostas
The many varieties and colors of hydrangeas were also favorites
Master Gardener Barbara Petrucci liked the containers mixed in with the plants. "I think I want to get some containers and try that in my garden," she said.
A container adds a pop of color in a medium shade area
Around 11:30, after the garden tours, light refreshments were offered  in the shade and everyone marveled at Nancy and Denise's beautiful gardens. Master Gardener Billy Morningstar said what was on many of our minds.
"I'm glad my shade area is small. I'm not as ambitious as these ladies."
More information about shade gardens and plants
Alloway Creek Gardens: Creating a Sanctuary Garden Room

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