For me shade gardening began after I retired and realized that we had lost our woods to 12′ high Multiflora Rose and Japanese Honeysuckle. We reclaimed it soon after. Simultaneously I began gardening under shade trees in our yard, White Pines and a Tulip Tree that I’d planted as tiny saplings 37 years earlier (in 1984) and a large American Holly and Georgia Hackberry that came up when we didn’t mow part of our backyard 44 years ago (in 1977) . Our last English Setter had died and we no longer needed lawn. I compiled a wish list of natives I wanted to plant in our newly reclaimed woods and other shady areas. Friends generously gifted me with many divisions from plants in their yards that they had had success with. Since then I’ve done the same for others who are embracing a more layered landscape.
I certainly don’t miss the lawn and neither does Clay who does the mowing. In 15 minutes or less he’s easily mowed the pathways and is done. Our shade gardening provides a great deal more habitat, so we find even more nature moments to savor. This layering of plants has certainly increased the joy factor in our yard. And I’ve fallen in love with many, many new-to-me shade-loving natives. As Thomas Rainer says, “more life brings more life.”
I shared a program (via Zoom) on “Shade Gardening with Natives” for the Native Plant Society of NJ’s Southeast Chapter on Monday, November 15, 2021 at 7 pm.
To learn more about shade gardening be sure to read my handouts below:
Pat Sutton’s Shade Gardening Handout – Resources (Click on the underlined text to download and print) This handout includes resources (great books that have helped me) and the many websites with “Native Plant Finder” tools to help you generate a list of plants suitable for your area and site. It also has suggestions for sites to visit to see shade-loving natives in the landscape.
Pat Sutton’s Shade Gardening Handout – Native Plants (Click on the underlined text to download and print) This handout includes a list of shade-loving natives for the Mid-Atlantic, many of which I’ve planted or have growing in my woods or other shady spots on our property.
Pat Sutton’s New Jersey’s Native Trees, Shrubs, and Vines That are Beneficial to Birds (Click on the underlined text to download and print) This list is annotated with the number of NJ bird species that feed on fruits, seeds, cones, or catkins of each.