Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Gardening tips for shady nooks

Harrowsmith's Shade Gardens is a book for anyone interested in gardening in unused or heavily treed spaces. Amateurs and professionals will appreciate this lovely slim volume that evokes images of cool green shade and the singing of birds.

Each chapter is written by a separate author who concentrates on different aspects of shade gardening. Although their perspectives may vary slightly, they all agree that gardening successfully in the shade is both challenging and rewarding.

In Brenda Cole's introduction, she advises that shade gardens require plain common sense and careful observation. Whether it's formal or informal, you must consider how your garden will be used and by whom.

Cole begins with an analysis of depth of shade, for it varies from light to deep and changes throughout the day. She also gives tips on a simple soil test that is helpful in choosing specific plants. Lawns are assessed too; while sun - loving turf grass may not be appropriate for shady areas, there are shade - tolerant varieties that will work. Since these shady grasses are a bit more fussy and delicate, there are hints on caring for them.

The first chapter, written by David Tomlinson, deals with city shade, where neglected alleyways and bare yards seem useful only for parking the car. Readers living in urban areas will especially value his tips on how to approach these dry, windswept areas.

Tomlinson advises gardeners to carefully choose plants for areas near fences, walls, and foundations because these structures often reflect sunlight and absorb water. Although vines and creepers are good choices for small areas since they attract birds and insects, they often wreak havoc on brick facades -- and the rattling of dry leaves can drive you mad in the winter months.

When selecting a tree or shrub, he says to consider how large it will grow in 10 years. Tomlinson makes the process easier by recommending specific tree and shrub varieties and giving information on their care. There are also many ideas for shade - loving annuals and perennials such as late - flowering tobacco for late summer and early fall, and petunia hybrids that do well in light shade. The writer recommends joining a specialist plant or garden society that may operate a seed exchange in your area, giving you a

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