Demystifying The Shade Garden

By George Graine, Fairfax Master Gardener
Nature soon takes over if the garden is absent. -Penelope Hobhouse

Glorisu Shade book cover“Good grief” and “woe is me” are comic expressions for “What can I grow in the shade?” The Grainethumb has often been asked this question, and he has provided some basic solutions. Some folks have asked and given serious thought to taking down some big trees. Really — Is this to help install a shade garden or is it a way to lower the heat bill by going solar? Others consider the color green (underbrush and weeds) and brown (leaves starting to decay) a non-starter. Help is on the way because the solution for growing plants in the shade is available in a no fret — no threat book by Jenny Rose Carey. Furthermore, she seeks to alter many negative attitudes about gardening with shade. By keeping an open mind you should consider her newly published book called Glorious Shade: Dazzling Plants, Design Ideas, and Proven Techniques for Your Shady Garden (Timber Press, 2017). The advice provided in this book is not only practical but shows how to make the variations of shade gardening simple to understand and useful for any shade condition you might think about improving.

This book encompasses so much more than others about shade gardening. Often these other books tend to dazzle you with color photos of plants and only include a smidgen of horticultural care and maintenance instructions. Unfortunately some of these texts are not up-to-date and lack recent research findings. Additionally, they pay little heed to the overall aspects of gardening with shade and how it will enhance your plantings. (Read the title of Carey’s book again and you will begin to see the thrust of this article.) This is where Carey differs from other authors because she explains in non-horticultural jargon the nuances of shade and its permutations. By using clear language she shows how shade will enhance your garden. The author has presented us with