Slideshow of Our Best Shade Plants

I  know. We all want this in our garden.

New Dawn climbing rose over white picket fence. Kashmir shrub rose in background.

New Dawn climbing rose over white picket fence. Kashmir shrub rose in background.

I work in outside sales and nobody makes a beeline to the shade houses full of shade perennials. They all linger as they stroll down the full sun perennial isles where blooms abound and cottage gardens are made.

But come on now, we love WNC because of the cooler temperatures, and shady mountain homes. So, cheer up! There's plenty of gardening to be done in the shade, and really, who wants to sweat in the baking sun, anyway? There's beauty and bloom to be had in a woodland garden (a fancy name for a shade garden).

Click on each picture to scroll through and read the description at the bottom of the picture. (It will pop up when you place your cursor on the picture.)

This is the smallest of samplings for shade gardeners, there are literally hundreds of wonderful plants to choose from. If you feel everyone else gets to have all the fun in the sun, step into the woodland gardens of shade. You'll never go back, and you'll stay cool.

  1. Ostrich fern and hostas line path.
  2. Japanese painted fern with gorgeous veining give color all season.
  3. Many Japanese maples prefer the shade, and the colorful Japanese forest grass loves shade.
  4. Ligularia blooms mid-to-late summer. A show stopper.
  5. Ligularia is also a butterfly magnet. You can have butterflies in shade.
  6. Citronelle heuchera fries in sun, but keeps that great color in shade. Paired with epimedium.
  7. Epimedium in bloom in shade.
  8. A mini hosta garden for the collector in you. Pure delight, pure shade.
  9. A woodland path with rhododendrons and hostas.
  10. Cinnamon fern is a focal point in spring, summer and 
  11. fall.
  12. Viburnum 'Summer Snowflakes' needs some sun to bloom, morning sun is best, or dappled throughout the day.
  13. Autumn fern, this one is 'Brilliance' in front of a paperbark maple.
  14. Illicum is a woodsy shrub that can be very showy. This is 'Woodland Ruby.'
  15. Solomon Seal has delicate white blooms and great arching stems for movement in the garden.
  16. Bloody Cranesbill. This plant has so many varieties and many do great in some shade. Best if massed.
  17. Bleeding heart, 'Gold Heart'. This bleeding heart keeps it's leaves the whole season adding a great color pop to the garden.
  18. A mix of heuchera is great in containers or landscapes.
  19. 'Lady in Red' is a great lacecap hydrangea for shade.
  20. Bergenia cordifolia loves dry shade, makes a great groundcover under soffits.
  21. Bergenia in bloom.
  22. For you container folks, Autumn fern, Japanese painted fern, heuchera, plumbago, ajuga.
  23. Bleeding heart (Dicentra eximia) blooms all summer long, great for front of the border.
  24. Carolina sweet shrub does great in early morning sun until about noon to 1. 

Written by Cinthia Milner, OSA, garden coach, blog writer.

BB Barns serves all of Western North Carolina, upstate South Carolina, and Tennessee.