Wow, it looks like no one has a shady garden here!!! Am I really the first to post here??
I have a backyard full of trees. We've made beds around the trees (3) One is filled with pachysandra, one with vinca minor and one with vinca major. We kind of like the "in the wild" look :)
We need some shrubs that grow and flower well in shade. I do have some azaleas but they don't flower very well. They grow fine and do get flowers, but the flowers are sort of sparce.
Does Wintersweet grow in Zone 7? I can't seem to find out much about it, but it sounds very intriguing.
Thanks :) Mina
It sure does look that way, but I've answered shade garden questions in other areas of this board.* :)* There aren't many shrubs that flower in shade, but you will probably be surprised to find that there are more then you thought.* Some of these will need part sun of 4 to 6 hours or at least some sun when they bloom.* That would mean the shade of deciduous trees.* You can also get pics of these at google if you click on 'Images'.
Calycanthus floridus - Carolina allspice a native that also comes in yellow.
Kalmia latifolia - mountain laurel is also a native.* One of my most favorite shrubs, and one of the ones I used in my daughter's front foundation planting, is Kalmia - mountain laurel.* Many different colored flowers to choose from.* Choose one that is fuller and not too tall at maturity.* There's even a very short one called 'Elf'.
There are many varieties of Mahonia, with some native and some that are even groundcovers, so choose these carefully as well.
Manhonia aquifolium aka Oregon grape aka Oregon holly grape,* is a native evergreen whose leaves resemble holly with fragrant yellow flowers.* It will grow in shade.* It tends to sucker so you will need to prune off the shoots, but in full shade it will grow a little more slowly for you.* It tends to grow with an open informal look.
Mahonia bealei is more open and is from China.* I have a neighbor growing this in full shade in zone 7 and it does bloom and get fruit.* At the second link you can click on 'Back' and then click on flowers, furits, leaves and bark.
There are hardy fall or spring blooming camellias.* Most grow very slowly, but some get to be very large over time, so choose a cultivar that will mature to a height you want.* There are some that only grow to about 4'.* They almost never need pruning.* Mine bloom between Thanksgiving and Christmas in zone 7 and total shade, but the buds or flowers can often get blasted by a heavy early fall or late spring freeze.* Here's some camellia info.* The buds of the semi-double flowers seem to tolerate the frosts better.
Itea virginica is one I have in my garden.* The butterflies like it.* I have this first one with a beige stucco wall behind it and the dark leaves in the fall look great.
I'm not sure why your azaleas aren't blooming well, but maybe this will help.
I found this info about wintersweet -* Chimonanthus praecox Luteus
There are also some native groundcovers for woodlands that you might find interesting.
Asarum - woodland ginger has lovely heart shaped leaves that come either in green or variegated and makes a good groundcover in shady places. There are native and non-native ones.
Mitchella repens - Partridgeberry This would be one of my favorite native ground covers if it would just grow faster! For the patient gardener who appreciates beauty, this wonderful ground cover forms a small mat of evergreen foliage with a dainty white stripe running down the middle of the leaves of some varieties. Height 2-4 in. Pink-white flowers in June with inviting red berries that last into winter and feed the birds. Prefers moist soil.
Cornus canadensis native dogwood groundcover.* I like the fact that the berries are edible for the birds.
Do be careful with both the vincas as they are invasive if they escape into woodlands.* There is also a native pachysandra that isn't quite as aggressive as the Japanese import.
Consider these woodland plants as well.
Helleborus - Lenten rose - comes in many colors and would be evergreen.* These are the ones that I mentioned often bloom when there is still snow so many of the flowers face down.* Some of the newer varieties have flowers that face up. You could grow these in the front under the window instead of the shrubs as they stay evergreen, though I like the idea of the nandinas better.* I don't remember your back garden very well, but I have mine growing along my back wall.* Unfortunately one of the dogs was looking for a buried bone...* I planted them there so I would have something green to see in winter and early winter flowers.
These are perennial, appear in the spring, bloom and then disappear until the next spring.* I like these first two together.* The Celandine poppy will often bloom on and off until summer when it goes dormant.* Interesting seed heads.
Mertensia virginica - Virginia bluebells are native and I like the fact that the flowers change color as they age.
Stylophorum diphyllum - Celandine poppy - wood poppy is also native.* This first pic shows Virginia bluebells in the background.* The last pic is the unusual seed pods.
Sanguinaria canadensis - bloodroot.* I have these natives and LOVE them!* They make me smile when I see them in early spring. They would have finished bloom by now. The first picture shows how the leaves cradle the flower stalk before it blooms.
Claytonia virginica - spring beauty.* I have these native lovelies in the back and they also make me smile as they bloom so early and then they disappear.* Very dainty.* Put them near the walk so you can see them before the daylilies come up and they are gone. When you see them appear you'll know it's spring!
This is a great place to order from for native plants.* You can do seeds or plants, though they often run out quickly.* They have a great rating with the site below, though I don't think they have everything on my list.* If you decide to purchase seeds, with these plants you only need cast them in the fall where you want them to grow and the ones that find a happy place will appear for you all on their own!* :)
If you decide to do mailorder hold on to this site to check references.* You can also search for highly rated nurseries anywhere or search by some individual plants.
You probably don't need these, but I'll include them anyway.
How to plant, water and mulch shrubs (mulch shrubs the same way as trees):
These are great. A lot to look over and explore. The pictures are wonderful :)
Thanks so much!!
You are so very welcome!* I had to change a couple of the links I gave you as they were outdated.* If you have any problems with any of them lmk.
Don't forget the viburnums...they may not flower as heavily or fruit as heavily but they will still perform.* Also Rhododendrons, Skimmia, Leucothoe, Kerria Japonica, Enkianthus, Corylopsis, Callicrpa, Calycanthus, Hamamelis, Piers, Acanthopanax, Fothergilla, and don't forget the wonderful Hydrangeas.* There are also a huge number of perennials that love the woodland setting...HUGE.