Made For The Shade

The Texas heat is coming. Is your garden ready?

While shade gardening can be a bit tricky, our Texas sun demands we plant plenty of shade trees. Garden plants are most often chosen for the color or quality of their flowers. In the shade, however, you’ll often rely on foliage to do much of the heavy lifting.

My current garden project involves the construction of some large foundation beds in my backyard. These new beds are well-shaded by two large live oaks. This past week I went on a hunt for my favorite shade perennials — prime nursery stock is beginning to swell at the local garden centers, so if you’re looking to score some of the season’s prettiest plants, now’s the time to shop.

Coral bells (Heuchera sp.) are out in full force right now and look fantastic. I snapped up an assortment of contrasting varieties, including ‘obsidian’ (dark purple), ‘mahogany’ (caramel) and ‘lime marmalade’ (electric chartreuse). Their intense foliage color will “pop” in the shade.

Helleborus Ice Breaker 'Pico'
Helleborus Ice Breaker ‘Pico’

Lenten rose (Helleborus sp.) are one of the few really tough shade perennials for our area that’s also a heavy bloomer. I also grabbed a couple of arm loads of a green-flowered beauty called Ice Breaker ‘Pico’. Lenten rose offers up interesting evergreen foliage; some even sport silver leaves.

A few other shade beauties I chose include Mahonia ‘Soft Caress’, fig ivy, autumn fern, dwarf mondo grass and Labrador violets. I do believe spring has sprung.

Labrador Violets, a perennial ground cover for shade.
Labrador Violets, a perennial ground cover for shade.