5 Best Plants for Your Garden's Shady Spots

five shade plantsBonnie Alter/CC BY 2.0

Mid-August is when gardeners start to get depressed. The best time for the garden is over and all its failings are starting to show. Like the shade areas: these are always tricky. But for next year, forget about jamming in Impatiens and instead think shade perennials that will grow slowly, spread on their own, and last and last.

Shade perennials are less showy, more subtle. They are all about appreciating different shades (!) of green, different textures and shapes. And don't forget: now is the best time to buy them. They are on sale at most nurseries, and if planted now, will have time to establish themselves over the winter.

Here are five of the best.

1. Lady's Mantle (Alchemilla Mollis)

A perfect plant for the edges of the shady parts of the garden. The plants grow between 8 and 14 inches high, with leaves that get larger over the summer. There are long, leggy chartreuse flowers that appear in early summer and last for weeks on end. The plant spreads every year.

2. European Ginger (Asarum europaeum)

five shade plantsBonnie Alter/CC BY 2.0

European ginger has glossy, shiny leaves that are rich and dark green in colour. It grows as a low, slow creeping ground cover that sweeps around other plants, catches and reflects the light. Understated,interesting and spreads in clumps.

3. Tiarella (Foam Flowers)

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Tiarellas are a native plant and like woodland conditions: rich, moist soil, and dappled to full shade conditions. They come in so many different varieties: their leaves are multi-coloured and different shaped. They are delicate and last the whole season. They even have an early flower. Look for them at garden centres.

4. White Wood Aster (Aster divaricatus)

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This is tricky to find--it is a native but is an endangered species in some places, still, well worth the hunt. It blooms in mid-August through September, a time when there is little else flowering. The delicate little white flowers look like daisies. They grow on long runners which look luxuriant. It gets bigger every year and likes shade.

5. Japanese Painted Fern (Athyrium nipponicum pictum)

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The Japanese painted fern is very showy, with soft gray-green and silvery dark maroon foliage. It is a lovely contrast to the greens around it and keeps on spreading and re-seeding, given the right conditions. Don't forget to look at other ferns as well.

6. And One for Good Luck: Hostas

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But don't think of your grandmother's garden--there are gorgeous, huge and beautifully coloured choices as well. Like this gigantic blue Abiqua Drinking Gourd that looks like lily pads.

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