Favorite Plants for a Garden Design in the Shade

While a bright and sunny spot may seem like the ideal place for a garden in your yard, don’t overlook the possibilities when it comes to designing a shade garden! We recently had the opportunity to turn a rather large, shady space into a beautiful garden with season-long interest for one of our clients. Read on to find out some of our favorite plant choices for the shady space.

Shade Garden Before
From this...
Shade Garden After
... to this!

Plant Choices for Early Spring in the Shade

To ensure season-long interest in such a big space, we need to start from the early beginnings: the early Spring in the Berkshires. We keep it simple with a sea of cheerful yellow daffodils that brighten the shady spot.

Daffodils in Early Spring Shade

As you can see in the photo above, we also dotted in Bleeding Heart close to the border. These early-spring blooming perennials benefit from being in a place you can get a closer look to see the delicate blooms, which bloom continue to emerge into the Spring months.

White Bleeding Heart Early Spring
Red Bleeding Heart in later Spring Months

Another favorite shade perennials of ours is Tiarella, pictured above with the Red Bleeding Heart. Tiaralla is an excellent choice for a low-growing perennial in the shade, especially when planted en-masse when their tiny white blooms can make a statement!

Plant Choices for Summer in the Shade

As the gardening season progresses into the summer months, daffodils will fade away, but the bleeding heart plants may carry over into the early summer months. Simultaneously, herbaceous perennials will begin to fill in, preparing for their summer bloom. Our favorite mid-summer blooming plant choice is Astilbe.

Astilbe blooms in the shade

Once again, we love Astilbe best when planted in swaths–you can’t beat the show-stopping blooms of soft pinks and whites that sweep across a shade garden. Don’t forget, of course, to choose plants for foliar interest as well. We love carefully placed hostas, as well as the Japanese Hakonechloa grass that you see here.

Plant Choices for Late-Season in the Shade

The late-season months of August and September showcase Berkshire gardens in all their glory. Perennials have all grown in, and many blooms that we have waited all season for are finally surrounding us! 

Late Summer Shade Garden

Pictured here are some of our favorite late-season blooming shade shrubs and perennials. Dotted throughout are Clethra bushes, also known as Summersweet or Pepperbush—these lovely shrubs are fragrant and are available in both white and pink!

Also pictured, are the blooms of Hostas, which pair beautifully with the white flower theme of this shade garden, in addition to providing their colorful foliage all season! In addition, look for the very delicate purple blooms of Thalictrum, dotted throughout and standing high above the garden—though hard to see in photos, it makes a real impact in person!

A favorite shade garden shrub, if you have enough space for it, is Buckeye. These perennial shrubs bear beautiful white flowers in the late summer, and create a wonderful anchor point in garden spaces like this. Buckeye can also work as great screening in a shady area, as they can grow to be very large!

Buckeye in a Shade Garden

Shade Gardens are Beautiful!

As you can see, shady doesn’t have to be boring! We hope we’ve introduced you to some new shade-loving perennials to consider in your shady garden space. On an ending note, our tips would be to keep it simple and stick with a theme for maximum impact. Happy Gardening!