Recommendations for Bright Colour Perennials, Semi-Shade

Discussion in 'Outdoor Gardening in the Pacific Northwest' started by janetdoyle, Feb 6, 2012.

  1. janetdoyle

    janetdoyle Active Member 10 Years

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    I have written into these forums frequently in the past, and now have my townhouse garden in Saanich coming along but not really as I had hoped -- some things don't last, don't thrive, some do... complicated. I am in a cool shady area, with bright afternoon sun after 1:30 pm in the late spring and summer months. Some dwarf ornamental conifers [usually I think newish on the market, and not tested, probably] did not thrive in the shadier part on the eastern side garden, shaded by the townhouse and the tall cedars and firs above them. A modicum of sun seems necessary, except for Hellebores... Now I am asking for recommendations for perennials that can bring brilliant colour, to this northwesterly-facing garden, which gets some sun as stated... I would like lower-growing ideas but may have to go to the tall "coloured daisy-type" [names escape me at the moment] perennials sold everywhere... but I am trying to achieve a carpet of colour in and around some ornamental conifers... I can use pansies and alyssum and the annuals, too... but any other suggestions? Specific plant variety names? I am going to put in more primroses shortly for early bloom...
     
  2. dt-van

    dt-van Active Member 10 Years

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    Unlike annuals, most perennials bloom for a few weeks at most, so their flowers are never going to give you a "carpet of colour" for very long. In my experience begonias, both fibrous and tuberous are the best for that.
    Lime green and gold foliage perennials like hostas thrive in part shade and will brighten your space for the whole season. Unlike gold leaf conifers which usually need sun for good colour, gold leaved hostas, bleeding hearts etc. tend to burn or bleach if they get too much sun and do better with more shade. For a classy combo use some gold leaved and some blue leaved varieties and tie them together with the fabulous Hosta "June" and others which combine blue and gold in one plant. Pale butter yellow primulas would look great with this.
    Alternately you could go for a more "hot" lime green/burgundy/coppery combo by using Heucheras & Heucherellas, ligularia "Othello" and annuals like Coleus and red, orange and yellow flowered tuberous begonias.
    Golden creeping jenny would look great with either of these. It spreads rapidly so you need to keep an eye on it, but it is trouble free and shallow rooting so it's easy to cut back and/or pull out where it isn't wanted.
     
  3. janetdoyle

    janetdoyle Active Member 10 Years

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    These are great suggestions and tie together items in my mind which I had intended to plant anyway, in previous years, like the begonias, but never got them planted... forgot about the begonias for some reason. Yes, "carpet of colour" is a mis-nomer for perennials... The longer-lived annuals like the white alyssum do that... Thanks! The deer don't really crave begonias...

    You are so right about the gold-leaved conifers not thriving in shade...

    I had not considered Hostas before owing to our being absolutely inundated by deer, which eat Hostas -- there is a great debate on here in Victoria and Saanich re culling deer, whether to, how to, etc., etc. [ My opinion: anaesthetize them with a dart device and remove them in truck, alive but sedated, to live -- for a time -- at a venison-producing "deer farm". But now, the deer repellent Bobbex is available for purchase in Canada and it is really effective at discouraging deer from the garden. [ Follow the Victoria Times-Colonist in news and letters columns on deer culling... ]
     
  4. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    There are plenty of long-blooming perennials, the difficult combination is substantial shade + brilliant color. In this region this is mostly - although not strictly - an abnormality, brilliant color tending to be a feature of sunny places. But there are the popular gaudy shade tolerant annuals on the market, such as the aforementioned begonias but more particularly the annual impatiens. If you are unable to exclude deer that can really cut into your options, with Oh that would be perfect - but the deer will eat it being a constantly recurring thought.
     
  5. janetdoyle

    janetdoyle Active Member 10 Years

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    Thanks, Ron, and nice to hear from you again. I know the limitations of this spot, I wish I had thought through more carefully before we purchased this townhouse as we are in such shade mostly, except for the afternoon sun on the front garden, and the trees surrounding are huge and our townhouses are cedar-sided and stained dark brown. Broadmead is a tree-covenanted suburb of Saanich, just north of Victoria, and is very pretty, really, all Western classic big trees and wood/glass Western domestic architecture, but so dark in places. Houses and duplexes on the other side of the street sit up on a hill and are sunny, having dispensed with big trees sometime in the past and avoided the Broadmead covenants.

    I will use dt-van's and your advice, and probably use certain begonias and yes, the impatiens I had already thought of, to fill in the colour. I like the delicate woodland plants and blooms too, but I have those in the permanently shady eastern side of the house [shaded by big trees and Victoria's Mount Douglas from the morning rising sun]. I crave some colour. Fortunately the Forsythia on the shady side seems to bloom regardless of shade and for a short while in spring looks really smashing against the dark siding and glows in the shade... Shade gardeners should certainly use it more often here, although it does take up non-blooming small-tree/large shrub space in the garden the rest of the year, although there are smaller varieties now...
     
  6. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Spring-blooming deciduous shrubs of some size can serve as hosts for smaller-growing summer-flowering deciduous clematis.

    You might like to read The Complete Shade Gardener by George Schenk. Much of it is based on many years of experience with gardening in this region. There is even a chapter on vegetables.
     
  7. janetdoyle

    janetdoyle Active Member 10 Years

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    Very good -- I'll do that, the effect of the clematis would be spectacular if successful -- and I'll read the book as well. Thanks again.
     

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