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Sunday, July 14, 2024
Growing Together: These new plants are made for shade
The latest introduction into the family of bleeding heart flowers is one called "Pink Diamonds" bleeding heart, which does best in light shade.

There is one thing that I can say with certainty about plants is that there will always be new varieties being released each year. 

Just when you think that you know all the latest plants, they come up with new and improved varieties. 

I don’t know how they can keep developing new cultivars, but somehow, they can create plants that are more disease resistant, heavier blooming, more compact and with more colourful foliage. 

Here are some newer released plants for a part shade to full shade location:

I love plants that provide more than one point of interest. So, when they had taken an old fashion plant like astilbe and improved upon it with dark burgundy leaves and flowers it was bound to be a winner. 

The “Dark Side of the Moon” astilbe is just that. 

This variety grows about two feet high and wide.

Its deep pink/purple flowers emerge mid to late June and remain in bloom for about three weeks. 

It prefers a moist soil, without drying out for any length of time. 

It makes a stunning combination with golden Hakonechloa grass and blue hostas. 

“Dark Side of the Moon” astilbe will also tolerate full sun, especially when the soil is kept moist.

Another old-fashioned perennial of shade gardens is the bleeding heart (Dicentra). 

It is known for its pink and white coloured heart-shaped flowers early spring. 

Over the years, there have been several new introductions in this family: white flowering, yellow leaves and dwarf varieties. 

The latest introduction is one called “Pink Diamonds” bleeding heart. 

This dwarf bleeding heart does best in a light shade. It grows only 12 to 16 inches in height with an 18-inch spread.

Its two-tone pink, heart-shaped flowers are produced above fern-like blue-green foliage all season long.

Unlike the original species that just blooms early spring, “Pink Diamonds” continues to bloom all season long. 

Its blue-green fine textured foliage is the perfect combination with blue hostas.

If you are a keen gardener, you have probably grown heuchera (a.k.a. coralbells). There is a lesser-known native, shade perennial called tiarella (foamflower). 

They have bred these two varieties together and call them heucherella. 

They still have the colourful foliage of the heuchera, but also the light pink fuzzy flower spike of the tiarella. 

Heucherellas also are more shade-tolerant and more cold-hardy. 

Fun and Games’ “Capture the Flag” heucherella (quite a long name) is an exciting new variety that sports bright lime-yellow leaves with a bright red centre and veining. 

Not only is it grown for the leaf, but also for its short spikes of tiny, pink flowers on and off throughout the summer. Does best in part to full shade.

“Peppermint Patty” bergenia is another new variety for a shady place. 

Bergenia is known for its large, dark green, leathery leaves. The leaves are evergreen and remain there throughout the winter. 

Going into the fall, the leaves will begin to turn a mahogany-wine in colour and remain that colour throughout the winter, then greening up again in spring. “Peppermint Patty” is the newest cultivar.  

Tall spikes of white flowers have a pink throat with colour radiating down each petal. The petals are edged with a matching thin pink picotee margin. 

It blooms early spring and makes a great groundcover in a part shade to shade garden. 

“Peppermint Patty” grows 20 inches high (including flower stalk) and 18 inches across. The plant tolerates salt and is also deer and rabbit-resistant.  

Bergenia also attracts bees and butterflies. A great addition to any spring garden.

Just when you think that they couldn’t possibly come up with another hosta different from all other hostas, along comes “Love Story” hosta

“Love Story” has long, heart-shaped leaves with green margins and chartreuse markings jetting out that bleed into creamy white centres.

The leaves also have a gentle piecrust wave edges each leaf. 

It grows to be about 16 inches high by 36 inches wide. The tall scapes of white, bell-like flowers stand above the leaves.

Hostas grow best in part to full shade.

“Primo Pistachio Ambrosia” heuchera (I think  they must be running out of names) will brighten any shady location with its bright lime-yellow, rounded leaves.

Does best with morning sun and afternoon shade. This variety has tall, wiry stems of small pink flowers that bloom over an extended period.

If you have that shady location where you just don’t know what to plant, you may want to consider looking at some of the new introductions above.

Joanne Young is a Niagara-on-the-Lake garden expert and coach. See her website at joanneyoung.ca

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