Large, established trees lend a natural backdrop to spring daffodils and to hostas and caladiums in the summer. You’ll need to plant caladiums each spring after the last frost, but hostas and daffodils are carefree perennials that multiply even with total neglect.
Even if you limit yourself to hostas for your shade garden, you can enjoy various blooms never before available in hostas. Recent hybrids have produced giant white flowers with double petals, an amazing range of delicate pastels hues, and a longer blooming season than ever before.
If your terrain slopes and is full of rocks, work with nature to create splashes of color among the rocks. Think of the fauna as accent pieces. You can quickly turn an eyesore into a work of beauty with just a few well-placed plants. Rocky areas are a gift. They provide the backdrop or the palate, and all you have to do if fill in the blanks.
Ponds and Water Gardens
A pond without floating water lilies and other plants is only half-baked. Today’s water lilies are carefree, and they add drama with their splash of color and grace with their floating petals. You’ll want to use special plants and soil for your pond; otherwise, you can destroy the friendly environs and pH balance of the water. Plan to “landscape” the surrounding area even if you don’t want to include water plants.
Use containers to populate your patio, terrace or pool area. They’re also wonderful for tender tropical plants that can’t survive the harsh winter. Just bring the whole container indoors during the colder months, place it in a sunny location or provide full-spectrum light, and you have an instant garden next summer. Containers are also the perfect
environment to plant invasive plants like mint. You can plant with abandon without worry that the plants will take over. The container creates a natural barrier, and that’s good for plants that can develop disease. You can contain the disease through the container’s natural barrier.
Plant everything from herbs and delicate flowers to tropical plants in window boxes. Add tall, spiky plants and trailing plants such as ivy for variety. You want to think about varying height and texture as well as color. Window boxes lend a “homey” and welcoming charm to a house, particularly a cottage or summer home.
Plant gardens to attract hummingbirds and butterflies. Start with bee balm and butterfly bushes, and fill in with masses of indigenous blooms. The emphasis on wildlife gardens is to provide food, water, shelter and a place for the wildlife to raise their young.
Island gardens provide a little oasis of color in the lawn. If you have two small trees or large shrubs planted together, you might plant the island garden to include the trees or shrubs. The trees serve to “anchor” the garden. If you want to plant flowers that need full sun, plant your island garden away from any shade producing trees or shrubs.
Evening (Moon) Gardens
If you spend time outdoors at night during the warmer seasons, a moon garden provides a spectacular visual display. Evening gardens contain an abundance of white flowers against the backdrop of green foliage. Variegated foliage glistens in the moonlight. Lamium’s silver white leaves bring an iridescent look to the night garden while adding carefree ground cover. Trumpet lilies, with their oversized perfumed petals atop 6-8′ stems, sparkle at night. Add other large flowers that remain open at night to your night garden, and make the patio your nighttime home, especially on moonlit evenings.