Best Shade Shrubs/Perennials to mix with old Rhodos & Heathers?

Discussion in 'Garden Design and Plant Suggestions' started by artnerd, Jan 15, 2006.

  1. artnerd

    artnerd Active Member

    Messages:
    39
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Vancouver
    Hello,

    I'm a fairly seasoned gardener, about to move to a house in the Kits flatlands (acidic, boggy soil), that has a small north exposure front yard, but need suggestions!

    There is an old, neglected foundation planting that extends from full, damp shade at the house towards the street to sun/part shade, consisting of the ubiquitous (and mainly sickly) old badly-pruned rhodos & heathers. There are 2 blackened with sooty mould pieris japonicas at each side of the front door that are getting removed before we move in, and I need ideas for their replacements. Must be easy maintenance, with a behaved growth habit, no constant pruning, and tolerate full, moist shade. Thinking skimmia, hydrangea, sweet box, or my fave is japanese maples, but are there any that will tolerate FULL shade? They would look the best, I think. I plan to underplant everything in acid-friendly perennials to fill in the gaps. I will amend the existing beds with compost & manure to hopefully perk up the existing shrubs.

    We are renting, so I don't want to leave the landlords with giant unruly shrubs taking over their yard. (Also why I'm limited to dealing with the existing plants). They are letting my do what I want though, for the most part.

    I'm interested in off-the-beaten-path or old-fashioned plants, especially those proven to do well in Vancouver's climate, disease and pest-resistant. (I don't ask for much, eh?)

    Any and all suggestions are greatly appreciated!

    Thanks,
    K.
     
  2. darren hale

    darren hale Member

    Messages:
    14
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    ireland
    hi K, Don't know if this is any help but perhaps acuba japonica,and japanese plum yew ( the latin evades me at the moment). Darren
     
  3. BethSnohomish

    BethSnohomish Member

    Messages:
    16
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Snohomish, WA, USA
    Hello, all.

    I'm not surprised this person got little or no response. I have the same problem myself - I live in Snohomish, WA (bedroom community of Seattle, a bit more North) and I find that the answer is rhodies, azaleas, hydrangeas, and natives such as conifers and introduced pests like holly. No one really takes an interest in flowering perennials or anything other than what will grow in the 95% rain daily weather. I don't even see a lot of interest in the obvious choices like astilbe, hosta, bergenia...I guess that is what..due to the slug population? Saw my first slugs last year - they are the size of geoducks.

    This year I've planted dicentra, and have seed packets of Calif poppy, lupine, oriental poppy, sunflowers, basic wildflower mix coming just to see what, if anything, will grow without being eaten to the ground. I'd love to correspond with any gardeners on here that are close to my area - anything Seattle to Canada will do - we are all under the same skies.

    Beth
     
  4. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

    Messages:
    20,816
    Likes Received:
    598
    Location:
    WA USA (Z8)
    We must not be under the same skies afterall since the rain here is far from 95% of the time. Until the 19th last December was about to set a record for dryness.

    Many gardening books have lists of plants for different uses. For example, the 2002 edition of THE HILLIER MANUAL OF TREES & SHRUBS gives this selection of 'TREES and SHRUBS suitable for DAMP SITES':

    TREES
    Alnus
    Amelanchier
    Betula nigra
    Betula pendula
    Betula pubescens
    Crataegus laevigata
    Magnolia virginiana
    Mespilus germanica
    Populus
    Pterocarya
    Pyrus
    Quercus palustris
    Salix
    Sorbus aucuparia

    SHRUBS
    Amelanchier
    Aronia
    Calycanthus floridus
    Clethra
    Cornus alba
    Cornus sericea
    Gaultheria shallon
    Hippophae rhamnoides
    Lindera benzoin
    Myrica cerifera
    Myrica gale
    Neillia thibetica
    Photinia villosa
    Physocarpus opulifolius
    Prunus spinosa
    Salix caprea
    Salix humilis
    Salix purpurea
    Salix repens
    Sambucus
    Sorbaria
    Spiraea x vanthouttei
    Spiraea veitchii
    Symphoricarpos
    Vaccinium
    Viburnum opulus

    CONIFERS
    Metasequoia glyptostroboides
    Picea sitchensis
    Taxodium distichum

    BAMBOOS
    Phyllostachys
    Pleioblastus
    Pseudosasa japonica
    Sasa
    Thamnocalamus

    The same publication also contains a list of 'SHRUBS suitable for HEAVY SHADE':

    Arctostaphylos uva-ursi
    Aucuba japonica
    Buxus sempervirens
    Camellia japonica
    Camellia x williamsii
    Cornus canadensis
    Daphne laureola
    Daphne pontica
    Elaeagnus (evergreen)
    Euonymus fortunei
    x Fatshedera lizei
    Fatsia japonica
    Gaultheria
    Hedera helix 'Arborescens'
    Hypericum androsaemum
    Hypericum calycinum
    Ilex x altaclerensis
    Ilex aquifolium
    Leucothoe fontanesiana
    Ligustrum
    Lonicera nitida
    Lonicera pileata
    Mahonia aquifolium
    Osmanthus decorus
    Osmanthus heterophyllus
    Pachysandra terminalis
    Prunus laurocerasus
    Prunus lusitanica
    Rhododendron Hardy Hybrids
    Rhododendron ponticum
    Rhodotypos scandens
    Ribes alpinum
    Rubus 'Betty Ashburner'
    Rubus odoratus
    Rubus tricolor
    Ruscus
    Sarcococca
    Skimmia
    Symphoricarpos
    Vaccinium vitis-idaea
    Viburnum davidii
    Vinca

    CONIFERS
    Cephalotaxus
    Juniperus x pfitzeriana 'Wilhelm Pfitzer'
    Podocarpus lawrencei
    Podocarpus nivalis
    Prumnopitys andina
    Taxus

    BAMBOOS
    Phyllostachys
    Pleioblastus
    Sasa

    Of course, some of the above have issues that should be considered, such as weediness in this particular region or fungus problems that may become severe in a damp, shady position. Rather than printing off lists like these from the internet or taking a book with a similar selection guide to a nursery it would be prudent to investigate possible candidates beforehand.
     
  5. BethSnohomish

    BethSnohomish Member

    Messages:
    16
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Snohomish, WA, USA
    Dear Ron, Plant Expert:

    I can read publications as well as the next person - but in an area where the local nursery actually sells orange trees (me - Soooo, how do you get this orange tree to grow here when it says it absolutely has to have 4 - 6 hours of sun per day?...Them - Oh, just plant it in a southern location. Me - but hey, you KNOW there is no such thing as 4 - 6 hours of sun per day here..in fact, we seldom get 4 - 6 hours of sun per WEEK. Them - Oh. Yes. Well, actually, we just bought them because of the Chinese New Year - they use them as decor. )

    What I was wanting to know is what actually flourishes here - and to hear it from a local. And Ron, if you are not getting rain 95% of the time, then I guess Edmonds is a heck of a lot different from Snohomish/Bothell/Kirkland. I can't remember having a full day of sun except during the months of July and August. I know that we've had 30 days straight of rain right now. In fact..its raining as we speak!
     
  6. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Paragon of Plants UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

    Messages:
    10,453
    Likes Received:
    536
    Location:
    Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
    Titles for people who participate on the boards:

    Seedling 0-19 posts
    Climber 20-99 posts
    Plant Enthusiast 100-999 posts
    Plant Expert 1000+ posts
     
  7. KarinL

    KarinL Well-Known Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    1,058
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Vancouver
    Well OK let's talk success stories for the sake of both the original poster and for Beth.

    For the rental situation where you want to leave something manageable behind, I was going to suggest Cephalotaxus or Taxus of various sorts, depending on how boggy you actually have it. Perhaps you could plant a little elevated, as I gather these don't like wet feet.

    If you want a bright spot, I constantly recommend Sambucus nigra variegata which does brilliantly for me in nearly full shade; it even flowers a bit. It is vigorous, though, and you might have to be willing to rip it out before you leave. Ditto for the shrubby Hypericums, forestii and lancasterii for instance.

    Leucothoe - I lost mine for an undetermined reason, but I have seen this grow in the conditions you describe, and it is delightful. Thinking of the "rainbow" cultivar particularly.

    Ruscus is quite a cool thing, but I keep mine in a pot as I suspect it would sucker, and what with it being prickly you don't want to come upon it unexpectedly.

    Perennial or almost evergreen Acanthus mollis is also good for shade, but will never be eradicated from the spot you plant it if you change your mind.
     
  8. artnerd

    artnerd Active Member

    Messages:
    39
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Vancouver
    Thanks everyone for the most excellent (and very specific) suggestions. Just what I was hoping for. I need to brush up on my Latin names, (recognized about half suggested), so I'm off to do my homework!

    I seem to notice this sort of garden in the Greater Vancouver area a lot, perhaps someone with superior plant knowledge might consider starting a section devoted specifically to the damp rhodo/azalea-leftover-70's-foundation-planting dilemma.

    Would encourage a lot of Wet-Coast gardeners, I would think, especially those that can't rip out the old shrubs & start fresh.

    It really IS the ubiquitous type of garden around here. Vive la lazy 70's landscapers.

    As I experiment this year, I'll share any success stories (hopefully, something will grow well!) to give others ideas that might actually work.

    Thanks again!
    K.
     
  9. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

    Messages:
    20,816
    Likes Received:
    598
    Location:
    WA USA (Z8)
    Entrance to VanDusen Botanical Display Garden main building (gift shop, entrance gates etc.) has a nice evergreen shade planting on the left, with fatsia, aucuba, windmill palm (looking more congenially placed than most seen in this region), sarcococca and so on. You can also see all kinds of shaded planting combinations inside the Garden, as well as at UBC.
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2006
  10. Dee M.

    Dee M. Active Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    186
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Western Washington
    You already have a lot of good suggestions but I have a lot of those conditions in my own yard in Snohomish and I know about the slugs. If you do try a Japanese maple choose a green leaved one and mound the soil, or put it in a large container. For a similar look but easier to grow use a heavenly bamboo [not a true bamboo so it won't spread]. Heathers don't work in shade. Ferns, Helleborous, Pulmonarias, and Heucheras are great evergreen perennials. I get too much rust to recommend any Hypericum. Hardy fuchsias are popular too. Use some native plants like Oregon Grape.
    Beth, I have a lot of experience about what plants slugs won't eat. Dicentra does great here. What sun we get in the winter doesn't really matter because the plants are dormant, it's the summer that matters. I hope you are putting the wildflower seeds where they will get at least half a day of sun. California poppies can reseed to the point of being a nuisance.
     
  11. BethSnohomish

    BethSnohomish Member

    Messages:
    16
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Snohomish, WA, USA
    Thanks Dee! Good to hear from someone in Snohomish!

    You know, I was wondering why the woman who lived in my house previously planted all her trees in mounds. I mean she actually brought in dirt and planted the trees about a foot or so about flat ground level in little hillocks. I was thinking perhaps it was the drainage, but its for slugs? Or did I misunderstand?

    I went to a friend's and they generously gave me rights to rip out tons of ivy strings, which I carefully planted yesterday in the rain (about 50 of them) in the mounds in the front yard. I do like ivy, although I know a lot of folks don't. I also got some oregon grape, some native fern babies, and some cedar tree babies. Oh, and a couple waxy leafed baby plants that I'm not sure what they are, but heck they were growing next to the momma - a big huge tall tree type thing about 20 feet tall - so thought they'd be good at the back of the property.

    I have planted a hellebore, and have a collection of shade plants coming from Wayside gardens, including some painted ferns, some hosta (the slugs will eat this, won't they....) Heucherella, Dicentra, Astilbe. I also saw fantastic roses blooming last summer while I was out garage sale-ing, so I got brave and bought some David Austin old english roses and those are coming for the south side of the house. If they grow for others, surely they will grow for me as well.

    I notice sunflowers grow, so I did order those seeds. And I know the Calif poppies can become a nuisance, but heck anything is better than nothing! Ohhhh, by the way, does anyone on here know a source online where I can get the fully double pink oriental poppies? The old fashioned kinds? That look like big pink roses?
     
  12. BethSnohomish

    BethSnohomish Member

    Messages:
    16
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Snohomish, WA, USA
    Oh my HEAVENS!!! THE SUN JUST CAME OUT! Woooo HOOOOO! Time to go check the babies. Oh, and the previous owner planted about 8 kinds of clematis. I could not get it to grow in Nevada - does it do well here? It appears to be leafing out already. And I do have tons of azaleas and rhodies and camillias here - the scarlet camillia is blooming in fact, the little darling plant!
     
  13. BethSnohomish

    BethSnohomish Member

    Messages:
    16
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Snohomish, WA, USA

    Thanks, Daniel. I stand humbled. And informed. ok, really I'm sitting...
     
  14. Gordo

    Gordo Active Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    329
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Camano Island, WA
    Beth, I would just like to second Dee's suggestion to include native plants in your garden. They'll be happy, cause you less work, and remind you of the natural beauty all around you (isn't that why we live here?). If you have evenly moist shade, as in the original post, I would definitely include Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum aleuticum).Also flowering current (Ribes Sanguineum) of which there are several forms to choose from, including a golden leaved one. Vine maple will do well here, but it's best to select these in fall for best color. The hillier guide that Ron mentioned is appropriate to this area, since nearly all plants which will do well in UK will thrive here as well.

    P.S. - I hate to tell you this now, but you might want to reconsider the ivy. It has been classified by many around here as a noxious weed (can escape into, and take over wild areas.) There are several better and more interesting choices available, including Epimedium, Vancouveria, Sarcococca, Gaultheria, and Cornus canadensis (Bunchberry).
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2006
  15. Eric La Fountaine

    Eric La Fountaine Contributor Forums Moderator 10 Years

    Messages:
    3,511
    Likes Received:
    233
    Location:
    sw USA
    Ditto on the ivy. A group called Ivy Busters has formed here to try to eradicate the stuff from Stanley Park. Someone planted it at a property where I garden and I swear it is smothering everything. The stems at the base of some trees are 15 cm and thicker. It spreads easily into wild areas and displaces native plants.

    Hope you consider an alternative.
     
  16. BethSnohomish

    BethSnohomish Member

    Messages:
    16
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Snohomish, WA, USA
    Welllllll, give me an alternative that spreads quickly, is as attractive year round as ivy, can be had cheaply or free, and is easily propogated by cutting and sticking parts of it back into the soil. :-)

    Oh, by the way. Will it choke out blackberries? Maybe I can plant it in front of the blackberries and they can fight eachother off.


    Ahhh - I just did a search for the ones Gordo suggested, and have to say THANKS! I loved the Vancouveria, now I just have to find it! And the Epimedium is very nice too! The added plus of Gaultheria is that you can eat it if you end up having to pay so much income tax you can't afford food. heh. Ok, I'll see what I can do - but the ivy is right in my front yard in a front bed, do you really think it will creep across the grass and across my back yard and through the patio and on to take over the nature area that borders my back yard?
     
  17. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

    Messages:
    20,816
    Likes Received:
    598
    Location:
    WA USA (Z8)
  18. Gordo

    Gordo Active Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    329
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Camano Island, WA
    Eventually Ivey forms berries, which are eaten by birds, and the seed spread hither and yon. also, after several years you'll find the ivy will become very difficult to remove, and as it gains a foothold, can strangle nearby plants. If you want a tough competitor, try our native Salal (Gaultheria shallon).
    Here's a good (and cheap) source for native plant material:http://www.snohomishcd.org/
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2006
  19. Gordo

    Gordo Active Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    329
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Camano Island, WA
    About the slugs - mounds won't help you here. Almost nothing will, but try Sluggo.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 17, 2006
  20. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

    Messages:
    20,816
    Likes Received:
    598
    Location:
    WA USA (Z8)
    Started plants are sold as well.
     
  21. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Paragon of Plants UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

    Messages:
    10,453
    Likes Received:
    536
    Location:
    Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
    On the topic of ivy, I'll add the following two tidbits.

    1) A local gardening expert recommended ivy for a similar situation to yours a few days ago on the radio. The Native Plant Society of BC email list has been very active on the topic since, asking the expert to retract his recommendation and appealing to the radio station to do an educational spot on invasives.

    2) I don't think there's any formal document, but I think we at UBC BG are removing / eradicating all ivies (the genus Hedera) in the garden, including some previously thought to not be invasive. It just isn't worth the risk that they may eventually become so.
     
  22. KarinL

    KarinL Well-Known Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    1,058
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Vancouver
    To go back to artnerd's question I just want to repair an omission in my original suggestions: FERNS grow in total shade, boggy conditions, and just about everything else you can throw at them. There are thousands of fascinating hardy ferns ranging in size from one extreme to another, they come in deciduous and evergreen varieties, and there are spreading ones and uprights (note, the ones commonly grown indoors won't survive outdoors). Most local nurseries now carry a pretty fair selection of hardy ferns, and almost all of them look better than the sword ferns that most of us probably think of first when we think "ferns." If you want a more specialized selection there is a nursery on Saltspring: http://www.thimblefarms.com/

    Beth, re whether the ivy will go from front yard to back? Yes, that and more. Consider Asarum europeaum or Oxalis oreganum as alternatives. Not quite as fast to take over, but that is a good thing.
     
  23. Dee M.

    Dee M. Active Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    186
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Western Washington
    Sorry I mislead you, the mounds are for improving the drainage, not for slug control. I have given up trying to contol them and I only grow things they won't eat. They eat some hostas and not others, if they have thick leaves they can do OK.
    PLEASE don't plant ivy! I do have a propasal, if you want a fast growing, evergreen ground cover for sun or shade , how about Vinca minor? Some people might think it is too vigorous but I have liked it in my low maintenance shrub border. It usually has bue flowers in the spring but I also have the purple and white flowering varieties all growing together. Since you are a fellow Snohomish resident you could come over to my house and get as may divisions as you want. Think of it this way, you will be saving our forests from becoming an ivy desert. I 'm always having to pull up ivy seedlings when I weed.
    I will sent you an e-mail about it.
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2006
  24. BethSnohomish

    BethSnohomish Member

    Messages:
    16
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Snohomish, WA, USA
    Dang.
    FINE.
    Ok, I am bowing to the pressure and the knowledge (and Dee's sweet offer of free Vancouveria HEH) and pulling out the over 50 starts of ivy that I laboriously dug and pulled up and just planted two days ago. Dang you guys are tough.

    (sniff...I really LIKED ivy.....sob).
     
  25. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Paragon of Plants UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

    Messages:
    10,453
    Likes Received:
    536
    Location:
    Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
    With monitoring, Vinca is a better selection over ivy (though I suppose some might argue that it is only marginally a better choice). It is certainly less likely to invade (in this climate), though it may be locally aggressive. It's also not on the Washington state Noxious Weeds and Monitor List, unlike some types of ivy. Caution is still advised - I suggest reading The War of the Periwinkle for a balanced account from near Puget Sound.

    In any case, you are to be congratulated on avoiding ivy.
     

Share This Page