Plants for Summer Color in Shade Gardens

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    Although spring is a season of riches in shade gardens, color abounds in summer as well. Annuals will flower throughout the summer, and their colors are rich and varied. A host of perennials are available for summer color, and some bulbs, too. The airy spires of astilbe and goats beard (Aruncus dioicus) bring soft masses of color. The upright spikes of foxglove (Digitalis grandiflora), bear’s breeches (Acanthus mollis), black snakeroot (Cimicifuga racemosa), Rehmannia and monkshood (Aconitum spp.) add vertical line and height. Most daisies need sun, but if you love daisy-like flowers, you can enjoy some in summer with purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), golden groundsel (Ligularia dentata), or annual cinerarias.

    The lavish blooms of hydrangeas and Siberian and Japanese irises lend a more classic elegance to a shady garden, giving it more of the feeling of a traditional bed or border. Lilies, too, contribute to a more classic look, as do the lilylike blooms of lily of the Nile (Agapanthus spp.).

    To bring some color up off the ground, plant summer-blooming vines in a lightly shaded garden. Hybrid clematis is available in many colors, and species clematis such as Italian clematis (Clematis viticellas) offer more delicate flower forms. Later in the season, sliver lace vine (Polygonum aubertii) or sweet autumn clematis (Clematis paniculata) will blanket a fence with masses of small white flowers that cover the plants like billows of foam. Those of sweet autumn clematis are lightly fragrant, too. You also could plant climbing hydrangea (Hydrangea anomala) subspecies petiolaris up a tree trunk. Once established, it climbs by itself.

    Perennials & Bulbs

    Astilbe spp. – Astilbe species – red, rose, pink, white

    Acanthus mollis – Bear’s Breeches – lavender, pink, white

    Monarda didyma – Bee-balm – red, rose, pink, purple, white

    Campanula spp. – Bellflower – blue, violet

    Cimicifuga racemosa – Black snakeroot, black cohosh – white

    Lobelia cardinalis – Cardinal flower – red

    Hemerocallis spp. and hybrids – Daylily (some fragrant) – red, pink, orange, salmon, yellow, cream

    Digitalis grandiflora – Foxglove – yellow

    Aruncus dioicus – Goat’s beard – white

    Ligularia dentata – Golden groundsel – yellow

    Chrysogonum virginianum – Goldenstar – yellow

    Hosta spp. – Hosta species & hybrids. Some fragrant – lavender, white flowers

    Iris kaempferi – Japanese iris – red-violet, purple, blue-violet

    Agapanthus spp. – Lily of the Nile – blue, violet, white

    Liriope spp. – Lilyturf – blue-violet

    Lilium canadense – Medow lily – red, yellow-orange, yellow

    Aconitum spp. – Monkshood – blue, violet

    Echinacea purpurea – Purple coneflower – pinkish purple

    Tradescantia spp. – Spiderwort – blue-violet, rose-pink

    Galtonia candicans – Summer hyacinth

    fragrant – white

    Lilium superbum – Turk’s-cap lily – orange

    Chelone spp. – Turtle-head – pink, white

    Lilium philadelphicum – Wood lily – orange-red

    Annuals & Biennials

    Impatiens balsamina – Balsma – red, pink, orange, purple, white

    Browallia speciosa – Browallia – blue-violet, white

    Caladium × hortulanum – Caladium – red, rose, pink, white, green leaves

    Clarkia spp. – Clarkia species – red, pink, white

    Senecio × hybridus – Cineraria – red, pink, purple, blue, white

    Coleus – Coleus hybrids – maroon, red, pink, bronze, yellow, chartreuse, green foliage

    Nierembergia hippomanica – Cupflower – purple, blue, white

    Digitalis purpurea – Foxglove – lavender, pink, white

    Fuchsia – Fuchsia hybrids – red, rose, pink, purple, white

    Viola tricolor – Johnny-jump-up – purple, blue, yellow

    Lobelia erinus – Lobelia – blue, white

    Mimulus spp. – Monkey flower – red, yellow

    Nicotiana spp. – Nicotiana species

    some fragrant – red, rose, pink, white, green

    Viola × wittrockiana – Pansy

    (blooms in cool weather) – red, rose, pink, purple, blue, orange, yellow, white

    Exacum affine – Persian violet – lavender-blue

    Hypoestes phyllostachya – Polka-dor plant – pink and green leaves

    Salvia splendens – Scarlet sage – red, pink, purple, white

    Lobularia maritima – Sweet alyssum

    fragrant – white, purple

    Begonia × tuberhybrida – Tuberous begonia – red, rose, pink, yellow, orange, salmon, white

    Begonia × semperflorens-cultorum – Wax begonia – red, pink, orange, salmon, white

    Torenia fournieri – Wishbone flower – purple, rose-pink, white

    Shrubs & Vines

    Rhododendron spp. & hybrids – Azalea

    some fragrant – red-orange, orange, yellow, pink, white

    Clematis spp. – Clematis species & hybrids – red, rose, pink, yellow, blue, purple, violet, white

    Abelia grandiflora – Glossy abelia – white, pink

    Hydrangea spp. – Hydrangea species – pink, blue, white

    Polygonum aubertii – Silver-lace vine – white

    Clethra alnifolia – Sweet pepperbush

    fragrant – white

    Video Credits: John Lord’s Secret Garden
    Image Credits: Dar1930


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