A Back Garden Update With (Mostly) Natives for Summer Shade
And this is what the Back Garden looks like in mid-July.
The Back Garden sits under the shade of Silver Maples and Siberian Elms, not everyone’s favorite trees, I know. But they give a high, dappled shade that I appreciate.
The American Spikenard (Aralia racemosa) is blooming with its tiny flowers. This plant has a substantial summer presence in the Back Garden.
The compound leaves have a bold look, though the foliage tends to die back from something later in the summer. You can see the beginnings in the lower right corner.
The Purple Flowering Raspberry (Rubus odoratus) is becoming more substantial. It’s blooming more, too, but the flowers are not profuse.
Here’s a close-up of the flowers. The fruits are edible but not very tasty – better to leave them for the birds.
In spring, Solomon’s Plume (Maianthemum racemosum) sports frothy white flowers. In summer, they turn into little berries – now bronze, eventually red. My only complaint about this plant is that the stems tend to flop under the weight of the ripe berries. Supposedly the berries (true berries, not drupes) are edible, and one of the common names is Treacleberries. I’m definitely not encouraging anyone to try them, though.
One edge of the Back Garden Island Bed is lined with Yellow Corydalis (Corydalis lutea). Not a native, but it’s such an easy plant, the ferny foliage is nice, and it blooms forever. Self-sows like crazy, but easy to pull out.
Indian Pink (Spigelia marilandica) blooms behind the Corydalis. I prefer mostly white flowers in the shade, but I make an exception for this perennial. A great plant for gardeners and hummingbirds.
Here’s a look at the east end of the Back Garden.
‘Annabelle’ Smooth Hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens) is blooming against the fence between our yard and the neighbor’s. These are native to Southern Illinois, though not to the Chicago area.
I like how our red bird house contrasts with the white Hydrangea blooms.
That’s it for now. There’s a few other things going on in the Back Garden, like my attempt to plant a sedge lawn, but I’ll write about at another time. Are you enjoying any particular shade plants this summer?
My new garden is mostly shade, from bright shade to heavier shade. I only have a few sunny areas. But the new house did come with hydrangeas, so no complaints!
There’s a lot to be said for shade, especially on a hot summer day.
My Queen of the Prairie (Filipendula rubra) are blooming now. I love the tall frothy pink flower and it’s growing nicely in a shade bed that is only sometimes moist. My Hyssop Blue Fortune (agastache) are very tall and bushy and the bees love them. Also, my Culver’s Root (veronicastrum?) is a lovely shade of light blue-purple. It’s a bit floppy so I have to support it. I’m usually a tree and shrub person but I planted more pollinator perennials this year and am seeing more butterflies, a hummingbird, and a hummingbird moth.
I like a mix of shrubs and perennials, mostly perennials. Also small flowering trees. Judy doesn’t like shrubs for reasons I can’t really understand.
So beautiful and lush! I love, covet, the hydrangeas. And yes the little red house does look good with them. You have a nice variety of plants! I am a fickle person when it comes to what I am fancying in my garden at the moment. I always love the fern but a new plants I am coming to appreciate more and more, especially since it survived four days and 4 feet of rain and our two days of 18 degrees, is the Toad Lily, Tricyrtis hirta. They flower well, stay under 2 feet and have the most precious little bluish purple flowers. And they love the shade!
I like Toad Lilies also, and have a few. I agree with your opinion of them, my only complaint is that they tend to get munched on by rabbits.
You have a beautiful back yard. I’m also coveting your blooming hydrangeas. I have two types of hydrangeas, both that are supposed to bloom on old and new growth, yet neither has bloomed in the three years I’ve had them. They keep dying back in winter and have to start over, and there’s never a bloom. Yours are beautiful!
Thanks. I wonder if yours are hardy for your zone.
May I ask what the dark leafed fellow is behind the one Annabelle? It’s great contrast and gives depth to the setting. Your yard is beautiful!
Thank you! The purple-leaved plant is Prunus virginiana ‘Schubert’. It’s a native wild cherry with small, extremely sour fruits better left for birds. Can be grown as a shrub or small flowering tree.
Your yard looks like a great place to just sit and relax and listen to the bird songs.
That’s what I’m aiming for.
This year is a banner year for my hostas. After seeming to struggle for the last five years they’ve really grown into what my son would call Monster Hostas when he was young. The lungwort really took off this year too. A good year for my shade gardens.
There are some hostas out there that get really massive when they are happy. One of my sons used to call anything that got to a really impressive size “humongo”.
Your yard is lush and beautiful., and your seating area is lovely. 🙂
What a contrast from winter to summer! The shade, the flowering shrubs, and the lush cool look would not be possible in my garden … how often do you water the garden?
Honestly, almost never. Unless we get a real drought.
I can’t imagine that!
My Annabelle hydrangeas are all droopy because of the unusual amount of rain we have gotten this year. I’m curious, do you cut yours down each year?
I cut them back every year, some years more aggressively than others.
Good to know…I have cut them back but not aggressively. Will give it a try!
I am encouraging a small area to be a moss garden. The patch is about 1’x2′. ha… it is a start.
It naturally grows in the area so I am trying to eliminate the bossy grass.
I thought Cordyalis lutea was a native. Hmmmmm
Your back garden looks so lush and inviting. I too like the red bird house contrasting with the Annabelle. Can’t wait to see your new project.
I considered a moss garden but when I researched it it seemed too challenging. A sedge lawn/meadow seemed easier in this spot.
The back garden is beautiful, Jason. I especially love those snow white hydrangeas. I’ve never tried to grow them, and suspect they require a lot of water.
Our annual summer drought has started early this year.
I think they are native mainly in the east where there is a lot more rainfall.
Your garden is beautiful! I really want to grow some Indian pink–I need to find some and plant! You’ve worked texture and color to great effect.
Thanks. I recommend Indian Pink. It’s a tough plant, but it needs some shade.
Silver maple was the second tree I planted when I was just a tyke. They are unpopular trees here as well. I do not mind that they do not color well. Not many trees do color well here anyway. To me, they are nice light shade trees for summer. They are not too dark like the native bigleaf maple is, but just shady enough to keep things cool. Lawn survives underneath them. They are remarkably tough. They defoliate cleanly in winter, and are easy to rake up after. They are still one of my favorites.
Their rep here is that they grow fast but the wood is weak, so they have a lot of breakage. I do like the dappled shade they give, much better than the heavy shade of some other maples.
Yes, they do not last like the other maples. I think that box elder is the only maple that is trashier. However, they are one of my two favorites anyway.
Your back garden is looking lovely, you wouldn’t think it was in the shade. I love a little respite from the heat so enjoy the shade provided by our huge beech trees. I do like all your feeders.xxx
Thanks. I sometimes think I overdo it with the feeders,. but what the heck. I am glad to have shady and sunny areas in the garden.
Such a lovely garden! What a beautiful site.