A woodland setting is often a very suitable place for good plant growth, as there is wind protection from the trees and the suns warmth is concentrated in the humus-rich leaf mould litter covering the ground. This nutrient-rich layer, which is replenished each autumn, is manna from heaven for shade plants and helps to retain moisture.
The tree roots suck away any excess. For plant opportunists able to capitalize on this windfall before the tree roots really get to work later in the year and percolate every square centimetre, this is a moment to seize for optimum growing conditions. Those plants that do start into growth under such conditions increase prolifically, when happy, to produce some of natures most spectacular floral displays. Think here of bluebells in Europe or wake robins in America. Massed displays although wonderful when they do occur are not, however, the norm among shady plants in nature. Plants that go through their above-ground phases of growth cycle in the early months of the year, before sitting out the hot summer as seeds or by resting below ground, can be categorized as "spring ephemerals". Most of these spring ephemerals do not create huge pools of colour in the wild, and their individual beauty is less of the in-your-face brash sort and more of the type that benefits from detailed inspection. You need to look closely at the flowers of many woodland plants to spot their poise and exquisite detailing. In fact, woodland plants from areas of the world where they experience persistent heavy rainfall in their native haunts often have flowers which only ever face the ground, so the outer sepals and petals can act like umbrellas to protect the all-important reproductive organs. Both the botanist in the wild and the gardener growing these plants in his or her garden may discover part of the whole charm and enjoyment of shade plants is being able to turn their flowers carefully in order to look into their faces. At The Garden House in Devon, celandines (Ranunculus ficaria) were growing on the edge of a field, which at the time of this photograph had recently been included within the garden. In this summer-shady spot, the grass grew only sparsely and it seemed an ideal location to grow a lot more spring flowers. I planted natives such as primroses, lenten daffodils, early purple orchids, and small patches of blue and white wood anemones, as well as self-seeding exotics such as Crocus tommasinianus and, at the far end, Spanish bluebells. I also began scattering large amounts of seed of the North American pink fawn lily (Erythronium revolutum), which has since spread to cover half of this area with its pink, Chinese lantern-like flowers. Having introduced so many plants, I clearly wanted them to thrive, so I raised the canopy of the shading lime trees still further to let more spring sunshine reach the ground and aid flowering. The problem then potentially arises of the grass starting to grow more vigorously and, since it should not be cut until early summer, of swamping the plants you have worked so hard to put there. The answer came with a winter application of a growth retardant, maleic hydrazide or mefluidide, sprayed before any of the bulbs emerged. This single application stopped the grass growing for about three months, which is just long enough to let the spring ephemerals grow, flower, and seed. The growth retardant worked so well that the whole area in the spring months is now covered in a continually changing carpet of flowers, although the celandines — to the pleasure of some and the sadness of others — have been increasingly squeezed out. Even though this spray is just about the only one I use, I realize that using any chemical at all will offend some people. I mention it becausShade is a reality in nearly every garden, and this guide will help any gardener, experienced or inexperienced, take full advantage of those sometimes tricky shady areas. After looking at shade in different situations-in different sizes and types of gardens, in specific areas within the garden such as hedges and other barriers, and in vertical elements such as pergolas and arches-the book then considers the characteristics of shade-loving plants, looking at brightly colored flowers as well as at plants with distinct types of foliage. Readers will also learn how to use plant companions to create striking designs in addition to the practicalities of preparing, planting, and maintaining a shade garden.As one reads [this book], it is easy to imagine strolling through gardens with the author, listening to him comment on the various plants and groupings and share his horticulture wisdom.[Includes] suggestions for plants you would never have thought to try.In this nicely photographed hardback, [Wiley] tells about the different kinds of shade, offers a variety of practical design tips for shade, discusses how to combine plants in shade gardens and finishes off with a directory of some of his favorite shade-loving species.[Keith Wiley] challenges readers to cherish, not chastise, the dappled areas and turn them into garden highlights. Photographs of inspiring shady places and plantings and a directory of appropriate plants make this book a good start for dark-side nay-sayers.Merits a place on the bookshelf. It is visually stunning and inspiring.Not one to just pontificate, [Wiley] has the full-colored photographs to prove his point and help others adapt the beauty to their own sites.Two valuable chapters in this well-photographed book are the ones on Urban Retreats and on Combining Shade Lovers. ... This book is for those who love trees and the opportunities to bask in comforting shade.This book is for those who love trees and the opportunities to bask in comforting shade. -- Steven Lamphear "Des Moines News" (06/19/2006)"This book is for those who love trees and the opportunities to bask in comforting shade." -Steven Lamphear, Des Moines News , June 19, 2006This useful guide will help any gardener, experienced or inexperienced, take full advantage of those sometimes tricky shady areas. Includes tips on the design and maintenance of a shade garden.This useful guide will help any gardener, experienced or inexperienced, take full advantage of those sometimes tricky shady areas. The book considers shade in several different garden situations and takes an in-depth look at shade-loving plants. Also included are tips on the design and maintenance of a shade garden.
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