Tips for gardening on ‘the dark side’ | THE COMPLEAT HOME GARDENER

The end of January is when home and garden shows in the area give gardeners a sneak peek at spring while still under the protective roof of an exhibition center. The Tacoma Home and Garden Show runs Jan 26-29 at the Tacoma Dome and then the biggest garden show on the West Coast celebrates spring Feb. 22-26.

Although the sights and scents of an early spring are what lure most gardeners and homeowners to these two shows, the growing advice offered by speakers at this show are also worth the price of admission.

Here are the top five gardening tips I’ll be sharing at the Tacoma Home and Garden Show this week when I speak on “Gardening on the Dark Side.”

  1. There are different types of shade and different types of plants that will live in the shade – some plants, like azaleas, will tolerate deep shade but never really flower or grow well. Other plants, like hosta, with blue leaves thrive in deep shade but will adapt quite nicely to partial shade. Hostas with gold leaves or fragrant blooms are the most sun tolerant.
  2. Shady spaces can be lit up with golden foliage. Two of the best shade perennials with golden leaves are the lamium Aurea (aka Golden Anniversary) and the flowing ornamental grass called Hakonechloa or Japanese Forest Grass. As a bonus, both of these spreading plants are slug- and deer-resistant.
  3. If you desire brightly-colored blooms in a dark area like a shaded porch or patio, grow annuals. Impatiens, begonias, fuchsias and lobelia will bloom their heads off all summer long with no direct sunshine.
  4. The shade cast from tall fir or cedar is often dry shade – a challenging situation for many plants. Go native and plant sword ferns, huckleberry, Oregon grape and heucheras (related to our native foam flower) in dry shade.
  5. Evergreen shrubs that thrive on the north side of a house or under the canopy of trees included rhododendrons, laurels and yews. But adding dark evergreens to a dark area can be a bit oppressive. Learn how to lighten things us and also some special planting tips to make your shady business prosper.

My other topic at the Tacoma Home and Garden show will be “The Pest Free Garden” and I’ll be sharing ideas for dealing with the big three garden terrorists in the Northwest: deer, slugs and moles. This means more than just a discussion on fences, traps and slug baits. Gardening with the right type of plant material can make all the difference when turning your landscape into a peaceable kingdom instead of a war zone.

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