Shady Characters

Posted by & filed under Formal Gardens, Perennials.

Voodoo LilyHave you ever noticed most of our theme gardens that feature perennials are in sunny spots?  The Sarah Lee Baker perennial, sensory, butterfly, hummingbird, sunken, fragrance, Matson, border, and colonial gardens as well as the wildflower meadow all enjoy long exposures to that glorious fireball in the sky.  Many of my good friends can be found there, soaking up the rays while sharing a little floral beauty and oxygen with us.  It’s a pretty good life.  

There are a few (and in my mind, suspicious) perennials that like the shade.  Instead of standing proudly out in front of everyone, they lurk in the shadows of trees and shrubs.  Some of them give me the impression they may be a little shy since their flowers are modest at best.  Some may like the challenge of growing with little sunlight and water.  Others are just weird – the voodoo lily is a good example.  First of all, it produces a purple spike of a flower in the spring and then the leaf comes out later.  A spotted stem twists at the top to share a spray of leaves that form a small umbrella.  For those who like freak shows, you can find it near the top of Statuary Vista.

Statuary Vista is THE spot for gardeners to see shady plants.  This 400 foot long border garden is a great space carved from a woodland area.  Like the bottom of a small canyon, the planting beds get a little bit of sun in the middle of the Hosta foliageday, but most of the time the neighboring trees provide speckled shade for the variety of plants below.  Here, shade-loving perennials are on parade for anyone who is interested in developing a shade garden.  Coral bells, lungwort, obedient plant, wishbone flower and others provide a smattering of color, but the hosta is the queen of the border.

The hosta creates a symphony of green shades rippling along the border for all to enjoy.  From dark blue-green to vibrant chartreuse, the variation within one color is impressive.  Some are solid colors like the ‘Blue Cadet’ or the Hosta sieboldiana var. elegans, while other are striated or edged in gold or white like ‘So Sweet.’  

Hosta 'Green Wedge'These plants possess a diverse variation of leaf form and shape as well.  Some hostas, like ‘Titanic’, have large rounded leaves, but ‘Chartreuse Wiggles’ sport small linear-shaped leaves.  Some carpet the ground like ‘Summer Fragrance’, while others such as ‘Krossa Regal’ stand tall over their neighboring plants.

By the way, for all those Latin-name-o-phobes, Hosta is the Latin name for this genus.  The common name is Plantain Lily.  How commonly do you hear that?  Just another example of how devious these shady plants really are.  But if you like to hang out with some shady characters, Statuary Vista may be the place you want to be. Enjoy the rogues gallery below.

Hosta 'Chartreuse Wiggles'Hosta ‘Chartreuse Wiggles’
Hosta sieboldiana var elegansHosta sieboldiana var elegans
Hosta 'So Sweet'Hosta ‘So Sweet’
Hosta 'Pineapple Upside Down Cake'Hosta ‘Pineapple Upside Down Cake’
Hosta 'Sum & Substance'Hosta ‘Sum & Substance’
Hosta 'Krossa Regal'Hosta ‘Krossa Regal’
Hosta 'Blue Cadet'Hosta ‘Blue Cadet’
Hosta 'Titanic'Hosta ‘Titanic’
Hosta 'Summer Fragrance'Hosta ‘Summer Fragrance’
Hosta 'Gold Edger'Hosta ‘Gold Edger’