Sunday, May 14, 2006

Shade is a bitch

A comment I got on elephant ear reminded me of what I’ve noticed about plants that we buy because they’re “good for shade.” Actually, two things. One, that suppliers invariably exaggerate how much shade a plant will handle. Two, that most plants that will thrive in shade conditions will thrive just as well or better in full sun, provided they are given adequate moisture. Good examples of the former rule are the various hardy geraniums I’ve bought over the years; although they’re always touted as “partial shade” plants, they really love the sun. I’ve had several that have failed to survive in a shady position. Makes sense; I believe they are native to rocky, mountainous areas where the sun would be beating down regularly.

The fact is, we deal with shade as best we can, but there aren’t too many plants that really like it, except for some hardcore ferns, and a few others. Of all the elephant ear I’ve ever seen, and it is a good shade plant, the hugest, most luxuriant examples are grown by my neighbor George in full fun behind his house.

I just feel lucky I can get anything to grow in the many varieties of full and partial shade I have scattered about the GWI terrain. The front is getting nice and dark, thanks to the maples, now fully leafed out. I am hoping that impatiens and torenia will provide some color this summer, and I may add some more hostas. Yawn.

Thanks to the leaflessness of early spring though, I’m still having fun with late tulips, including these surprisingly resilient T. acuminata.


Karen said...

Are those the ones you had trouble getting last year? They came up nicely.

EAL said...

Yes, I could only get 5. But I recommend them; they have strong stems and are long bloomers. Of course, I should wait to see the return next year.