Magazine for Northwest Arkansas
Shade Garden Becomes an Autumn Garden
Our shade garden very easily became the Happy Autumn Garden. As the caladiums began to die back in late September, a couple of bare spots were left with just enough room to put in a handful of fall elements. We added pumpkins, a mum (still in the concealed pot), a couple of ornamental cabbages, and the autumn anchor scarecrow. With the various shades of red already in place, this was a very simple seasonal conversion. The original shade garden is below.
This is the second year that Gina and I have installed a shade garden in this area nestled in the space left by our L-shaped front porch and the front lawn. It presents a challenge because only the east and, to some extent, the south sides of the garden receive any direct sunlight, at all. The rest is shaded all day by the Juniper "Virginiana," that anchors the garden. A Nandina "Domesticus" serves as a secondary evergreen anchor. And then, of course, there is the bird bath which shades everything to its west from the morning sun - the only sun the garden gets).

On the east and south sides of the garden are Polemonium, a Boston Fern, a variety of Hostas,, deep-red Coleus, Petunias, a couple of types of Celosias, a bi-color Caladium and the Nandina. These plants are thriving in about 6 hours of sunlight.
Wrapping around from the south, the total shade begins. On the southwest corner, you can see that the Celosias are considerably smaller than those on the other side. This area is filled mostly with coleus, with a group of Impatiens in the northwest corner doing just great in full-shade.

This garden is good practice for the next project, which is a new garden 2/3 the length of the front of the house and wrapping around to the side. The house faces north and there is a 40' Pin Oak in the middle of the yard and a 17' Arborvitae at the northwest corner of the house, both casting some shade. The bigger shade problem is simply the eave of the house, though. Except for one part in the plan that bulges out into the yard, the rest will be all-shade. Here are some pics of the staked-out plan. We'll keep you updated.

Today was groundbreaking on the front garden. There's a lot of digging to go!
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Now, that I am getting into turf, it is time to change tactics. I am using a Black and Decker electric Edger/Trencher to cut the turf. First, I cut the outline of the garden, then I cut it into squares for removal.
Then, I use a square point shovel to remove the squares of turf. You can sake the dirt loose and discard the grass, or use the squares to somewhere else in the yard where you might be having weed problems, etc.
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