Shade-spiration: Sunshine in the Shade

Lately we’ve had a lot of customers asking us about perennials that will bring light to darker spaces. Fortunately for gardeners these days there are a lot of fantastic perennials, old and new, that add zing to a shady space.

We wanted to share a few of our favorites with you today, to get you inspired and show you how many options you really have when it comes to shady areas.

Our first pick is an update on an old classic. Most people are familiar with Bleeding Hearts. With their lacy leaves and striking blossoms, they are a classic shade garden staple.

(img. courtesy of Blooming Nursery) The stunning chautreuse foliage of Dicentra spectabalis, ‘Gold Heart’ really gets our pulses racing. Like its green-leaved cousins, ‘Gold Heart’ is a fast-grower that blooms from early to late spring and can take full shade. Consider planting en masse to create a ribbon of gold running through your shade beds.


Our second pick comes to us all the way from Sichuan, China via famous plantsman Dan Hinkley.

(img. courtesy of Blooming NurseryCorydalis ‘Blue Heron’ is a stunner with an abundance of sapphire blue blossoms in early spring. Be warned that ‘Blue Heron’ can go dormant in dry or hot conditions over the summer. They are perfect for a moist, woodland garden.


We can’t discuss shade gardens without mentioning ferns. Their spectacular foliage and architectural shape add interest to any planting.

(img. courtesy of T & L Nursery) One of our favorites is the elegant Golden Scale Fern ‘Cristata the King’, a crested beauty that grows up to 3 feet tall. Its arching fronds flash bright coppery scales as it unfolds in the spring.


If you’re looking for something with a bit more height, consider Aralia cordata ‘Sun King’.

(img. courtesy of Blooming Nursery) ‘Sun King’ is a vivacious perennial that grows to six feet high and four feet wide. The golden spring leaves are topped by tiny white flowers later in the summer, and finally finish the season with dark jewel-like berries. This is one diva of a plant!


And then there were Hostas

Their broad leaves and serene colors give substance to your landscape.

(img. courtesy of T & L Nursery) We’re currently oo-ing and aw-ing over the creamy yellow and chatreuse leaves of Hosta ‘Great Expectations’. Plant this in your garden, and you can expect a thick mass of white blossoms in early to mid-summer.


Our last pick is Brunnera ‘Silver Heart’.

Tiny forget-me-not like flowers dance in counterpoint to lustrous heart-shaped green leaves splashed with silver. When the flowers die back in late spring, you’ll be able to admire the dazzling foliage properly.

A very special thanks to Blooming Nursery in Cornelius, Oregon and T & L Nursery in Woodinville, Washington for sharing their gorgeous photos with us. They sure grow some sensational plants don’t they?

Hopefully they inspired you to try something new in your garden this year. Keep in mind that these are just a few perennials in the vast array of swoon-worthy plants available for shade gardens. Drop by our nursery anytime and we’d be happy to show you more!


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