Create a Shady Oasis

    • Cover cherry trees with bird netting to protect your crop.
    • Finish planting the summer vegetable garden. Seeds of early corn, and beans can go directly in the soil and plants of tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, melons, squash, cucumbers and basil can be set out.
    • Paint trunks of young fruit trees with Tree Trunk White or white latex paint. This will keep the soft bark from sunburning which leaves cracks for borer insects, the most common cause of death of young apple trees.
    • Azaleas, camellias and rhododendrons can be pruned now without sacrificing next years bloom. Ask at your nursery if you need help.
    • Spray roses every two weeks with Neem oil to keep leaves free of black spot and mildew.

Create a Shady Oasis

There are many beautiful shrubs, perennials and ferns that you can use to create a shady retreat on your property.

First it’s important to determine how much sun or shade you have. Areas that receive three or four hours of morning sun in the summer and shade the rest of the day will be able to support more flowering plants than fully shaded areas.

Such areas are perfect for rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias. These lovely shrubs will thrive there and put on a beautiful display of flowers each spring. Japanese maples will also do well and they will add some height and grace to the landscape.

There are many perennials that will bloom beautifully here and come back year after year. Columbines, with their delicate and graceful flowers, are familiar harbingers of spring. Astilbes, known as false spirea, are truly splendid shade plants with showy, graceful flower plumes and fern-like foliage. Foxgloves are tall, colorful plants for the semi-shady garden.

For deep shade we turn to leaves for most of the color. The gold dust plant, Aucuba japonica, is a fine, evergreen shrub for full shade areas. It fills out to be a round, 5-foot-tall shrub and its yellow-spotted leaves will lighten up a dark corner.

The beautiful leaves of hostas, which come in silvery-blue, yellow-green, and all manner of variegation, are treasures of the shade garden. Their colorful leaves are attractive all summer and later in the season they send up spikes of lily-like flowers in white or lavender, which can be quite showy. Some are even fragrant. In general, the blue-leafed hostas require full shade, while the gold, yellow, and white-leafed hostas like morning sun.

Bleeding hearts have a charming beauty with their arching stems of delicate, heart-shaped flowers in spring. They grow best in partial to full shade in moist, well-drained soil. The tall showy flower spikes of Dicentra spectabilis die down after they bloom.

Fringed bleeding heart, Dicentra eximia, has deeply cut, grey green, fern-like foliage and dainty, light pink, heart-shaped flowers. Its foliage stays green through the summer and the flowers bloom over a long season.

A third variety, Western bleeding heart, Dicentra formosa, is native to the redwood region. It is very similar to Dicentra eximia, and is surprisingly drought tolerant during the summer months. Use it in woodland gardens.

Jacob’s ladder is an attractive upright plant with clusters of small, nodding lavender-blue flowers atop tall stems. A variegated variety, ‘Touch of Class’, has bright green leaves that are richly edged with cream. It bears lavender-blue blossoms in spring, and grows 18 inches tall.

Ferns are the mainstays of the total shade garden. There are many hardy ferns that are long-lived in our region. Their leaves add texture and variety to the area. Look for sword ferns, giant chain ferns, five-finger ferns, Autumn ferns and Japanese painted ferns.

Add a bench and a water feature and create a lush, restful oasis where life can slow down a little while you escape from the heat.

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