The March/April 2005 issue of Gardening How-To listed six design ideas to make your small garden feel more open, but small shade gardens present a special challenge. To prevent your shade garden from looking dark and gloomy, lighten it with plants that have variegated foliage and white or light-colored flowers.
Here are some plants that can brighten up your shade garden:
- Windflower (Anemone x hybrida ‘Honorine Jobert') has single white flowers that bloom from summer into fall. It is 4 feet high by 3 feet wide. Zones 5 to 9.
- Sedge (Carex morrowii) is a clump-forming perennial with broad, stiff, shiny, mid-green leaves. Look for evergreen variegated cultivars, such as ‘Ice Dance' and ‘Variegata', which can be cut back in spring to refresh growth. Zones 5 to 9.
- Bigroot geranium (Geranium macrorrhizum ‘Variegatum') has grayish green leaves with cream variegation and produces purplish-pink flowers. It grows 1 foot high by 3 feet wide. Zones 5 to 9.
- Hosta (Hosta ‘Sum and Substance') is a clump-forming perennial with heart-shaped, flat, glossy, yellow-green to yellow leaves. It bears pale lilac flowers in mid- and late summer. Zones 4 to 9.
- Hydrangea (H. arborescens ‘Annabelle') bears large, white, spherical flowerheads that can be luminescent in dark places. It grows 5 feet high and wide. Zones 3 to 9.
- Boxleaf honeysuckle (Lonicera nitida) is an evergreen upright shrub. ‘Baggeson's Gold' and ‘Lemon Beauty' both have yellow highlights to the foliage. Zones 7 to 9.
- Japanese spurge (Pachysandra terminalis ‘Variegata') is a slow-growing evergreen ground cover with creamy white variegated foliage. Zones 4 to 8.
- Lungwort (Pulmonaria) is a low-growing perennial with white- or silver-spotted leaves and early spring bloom. Cultivars include ‘Roy Davidson', ‘Berries and Cream', and ‘Bubble Gum'. Zones 4 to 8.