Shade Garden at the Ramble

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Shade Garden at the Ramble

Shade garden design can provide difficulties: it can range from deep shade to mild shade, and from dry to moist. Plants respond to soil and moisture, and knowing what to plant is influenced by an understanding of those growth circumstances. When your house has a roof overhang that prevents rain and light from reaching plants closer to the building, maintain plants approximately a metre away from the structure.

Rideau Woodland Ramble Shade Garden

Shade garden design could be considered like painting, with the plants the palette and the ground and sky the canvass.

Astilbes and Hydrangeas

Much of the wooded region is densely forested. The seven acres contain numerous rare and unique species, with pathways going to the various gardens. Color and light are important in natural shadow. Astilbe (which grows well in moist shadow) and hydrangeas (which grow well in both sun and shade) placed along the profoundly darkened side of a trail through the woods offered a splash of colour, with the hydrangeas duplicated for aesthetic effect on the other, sunnier side of the walk.

Use of Pots and Containers

The difficulties of cultivating plants were usually greater in the shade. Consider putting plants in pots and works of art to create interest. Two massive pots filled with ferns, lamium, and brilliant red begonias in a deep shadow location. Numerous sculptures may be seen as one walks around the pathways. There was “Ted,” a massive red-and-yellow metallic rooster; in the morning, one may hear a chorus of roosters from a nearby farm. A seven-foot-tall sculpture of a lone grizzly bear draws attention as it stands tall and straight.

Adding Colour in Shade Garden

Plants with golden, white, or variegated leaves provided a splash of colour against the gloom of conifer and other evergreen foliage. A patch of Rudbeckia, spreading as far as they could, offered a burst of golden yellow beneath the dark green conifers. Norway spruce with crimson tips were an excellent option for partial shade. A Zen garden, merely a stretch of mulch—with a few shimmering blue balls provided colour and interest—is created in an area where plants did not grow.

Benefits of Adding Grasses

While grasses like Miscanthus might become lanky and flop in the shade, they nevertheless provide a slight textural difference as part of a shade garden design. Helsinki rhododendrons were more hardy than English types and looked great beneath maple trees. Hellebores dislike growing beneath huge evergreens because the soil is too acidic, but they perform well under maples.

The gigantic compound leaves on a devil’s walking stick are of curiosity; the giant leaves adhere to the stem and, when they fall, what is left resembles a stick. Wildflowers like yellow lady’s slippers and crimson trilliums thrive in the shade. Turtle heads are excellent plants for dry shade since they bloom later.

Hostas and Other Shade Plants

Of course, hostas are well-known for their ability to thrive in gloomy settings, and there are dozens of kinds available, with blue types retaining their colour in deep shadow while greening up in the light. In the spring, ‘New Gold’ hemlock emerges golden and subsequently becomes green. Plants like viburnum may be used to provide aroma. Korean maples have crimson leaves that lend a flash of colour in the fall and are hardier than the more famous Japanese maples. An autumn shot included orange and crimson fallen leaves covering a trail, offering a splash of colour. The panoramas are lush and green, offering everyone something to fantasise about considering the current outside settings.

About the Presenter

At the recent meeting of the Old Ottawa Garden club the presenter, Dave Dunn, spoke about “Shining a Light on Shade”. Dave has extensive gardening experience as a creator of, and partner in, Rideau Woodland Ramble Inc., a garden centre and display gardens situated on seven acres of woodland near Merrickville. In 2015, the Ramble received the “Canadian Garden Centre Destination of the Year” award. Almost all the gardens at Rideau Woodland Ramble have some context of shade and woodland. Dave’s partner, Robert Caron, helped out by answering some gardening questions.

The Rideau Woodland Ramble gardens are open to the public. Woven into this setting is a garden centre that showcases and sells the plants evident in the garden collections. Both Dave and Robert have a deep knowledge of their plants. The Ramble can be reached at 613-258-3797, or

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