A couple of months have went by since I spoke about my 33 ft. long shade border in my back yard. It began as a collection of overgrown Nandinas, Cherry Laurels, Popcorn trees, Azaleas, vine weeds, and clumps of monkey grass. We waited until the temperatures cooled down to even tackle it because I was afraid of what was in all that shrubbery. At least by then they would all be sleeping for the winter. So this past fall we put our working clothes on, grabbed the shovel, saw, and pruners and set out to reclaim our fence. Here is what it used to look like:
Here is what it looked like after the first clearing:
At this point we were exhausted and came to a stopping place. The easy part was over, which was getting rid of the bulk of material. Next would require digging up all of the little things like monkey grass and Smilax, which is a terrible vine that never knows when to quit. I dreaded this task so much that I let it sit until the spring. In May my husband set out to finish digging up the stubborn Nandina while I played Where’s Waldo with the Smilax bulbs.
Now that everything was cleared out of the way the construction of the cottage shade border could now begin. Due to the slope of our back yard a small retaining wall was needed to help level out the ground. Before I could plant anything I had to fill in behind the wall with aged horse manure. It took two truck loads, but finally it was ready for plants.
There was only one problem…I had no idea what I wanted to plant in this space. This part of our yard receives very little sunlight. In the morning as the sun comes up, but the rest of the day it’s full shade. I really love flowering shrubs and plants, but there is a limited amount of plants that bloom in the shade. One morning I woke up very early determined to figure out what to plant there. I pulled out several of my garden books and scattered them on my bed flipping through each trying to find ideas. It wasn’t until the afternoon I had plants chosen and a design drawn. My plant choices were: Camellia japonica (1), Camellia sasanqua (2), Gardenia (3), Hydrangea (3), African Bush Daisy (1), Foxglove (7), Hosta (5), and Woodland Phlox (5). All of these plants bloom and grow in the shade. My inspiration for using the foxglove came from this photo I took in France:
I went to several local plant nurseries and loaded up my tiny Volvo with my new plants. The Camellia japonica for the border was something I already had. It’s called Peppermint and I’ve had it in a pot for 8 years. I knew it was eager to finally be in the ground. I set out all the plants in their future homes to see how my design on paper would look in reality. I was pleased.
Now after a few months they have settled in and flourished. In a few years it will really fill in, but for now it is still a far cry from what it was.