New Plants for the Shade Garden

As you may know, our new patio has created some new shady space for garden plants. Most of those I’ve put in so far are familiar to me – Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense), White Trillium (Trillium grandiflorum), Indian Pink (Spigelia marilandica). But I’m also trying a couple that are new to my garden: Bush Honeysuckle (Diervilla lonicera) and Eastern Star Sedge (Carex radiata).

Newly planted Bush Honeysuckle in my garden, showing some fall color.
Newly planted Bush Honeysuckle in my garden, showing some fall color.

Bush honeysuckle is a small Midwestern native shrub with yellow honeysuckle-like flowers and good fall color. It’s supposed to grow to only 3′, though Judy skeptically observed that ours had arrived already 2′ tall in its container.

Bush Honeysuckle flowers. Photo from
Bush Honeysuckle flowers. Photo from

Its early to mid-summer flowers attract bees, butterflies and hummingbirds, while the seeds are eaten by some songbirds.

Eastern Star Sedge. Photo from
Eastern Star Sedge. Photo from

Eastern Star Sedge is a finely textured sedge that likes moist shade. It grows only 1-2′ tall. Star-like flower clusters emerge in spring.

Eastern Star Sedge, newly planted along the edge of the patio.
Eastern Star Sedge, newly planted along the edge of the patio.

This plant is another source of seeds eaten by songbirds.

Eastern Star Sedge. Photo from
Eastern Star Sedge. Photo from

Have you had any experience with either of these plants?

31 Comments on “New Plants for the Shade Garden”

  1. Oh the joy of a new planting space! Bush or shrub honeysuckle is something entirely different to us in Europe so just proves that the Latin same is very important. I like your choices and look forward to seeing them when they have grown, The sedge looks especially beautiful.

  2. I haven’t grown either of these plants but both look good choices for you and your wildlife. The fallen leaves make a lovely pattern too in your photo. In the UK folk tend to over tidy and remove fallen leaves from borders but I have noticed blogs from the USA where they are left lying, its seems a better practice and provides homes for overwintering wildlife.

  3. I’m so glad you added diervilla! I have three types in my garden and just love it. It’s very low maintenance and is one of the first plants to leaf out in the spring. The carex looks cool, too. My diervilla lonicera (straight native) is short at 2-3 ft tall but my d. rivularis is 6 ft tall and the ‘Cool splash’ should hit 4 ft or so.

  4. No personal experience in my own garden, but I’ve seen both during hikes and I think both at the UW Arboretum. Bush Honeysuckle is one of those plants that has multi-season appeal: The bark, foliage, flowers, and berries. I especially enjoy the multicolored beauty of the fall foliage.

  5. I have a nice planting of Diervilla lonicera along my driveway for about 8 years now. Despite the hot and exposed location it has done quite well, although in drought years you can sure tell it’s not happy. It is about 2 ft tall and has been slowly spreading.

    I have a prairie planted behind and adjacent to it which I burn annually. Diervilla has responded rather dramatically to burning, causing it to appear much healthier in the season following a good burn. Spreading is also increased after a good burn.

    Diervilla would make a good substitute for Gro Low Sumac as it has a similar habit — low and spreading, especially if the area was shaded.

    This plant has a subtle beauty. Flowers are lovely but not dramatic. I planted Callirhoe involucrata alongside it, which vines into the Diervilla. Both flower at the same time. Very nice effect! I would add a picture if I could figure out how.

    I have never observed Diervilla in a natural setting although I understand it is not uncommon.

  6. I’m also intrigued by the Carex radiata. I grow a few Carexes here, but not that one. However, I did add it to a client’s landscape where it fizzled out. Let us know how it fares with you, please!

    My favorite Carex here is C. muskinomensis or Palm Sedge. Just awesome!

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