That forlorn corner behind the house or garage is good for more than storing stuff. Instead, use it as a setting for a garden.
Why? First, the house or garage provides a backdrop so the focus is on the garden, not the vista. Second, it’s self-contained, so you keep it separate from the rest of the landscape and plant the entire bed in an afternoon. Third, it provides a microclimate where plants are sheltered from wind and sun.
Here’s how we tackled the makeover.
Working with an existing viburnum planted at the edge of the house, we anchored the bed with two cutleaf Japanese maples -- a green-leafed variety in the bed and a smaller burgundy-leafed variety in a pot. They both appreciate the 3–4 hours of dappled sun this bed receives, not to mention protection from the wind.
Good to Know: In cold climates, the potted Japanese maple should be overwintered in a protected location, such as a shed or garage.
Variegated hostas offer a dependable supply of season-long color in the shade. They’re easy to grow and need little maintenance once established.
Good to Know: To avoid a spotty look, plant hostas in winding ribbons rather than scattershot.
Another foliage plant -- coleus -- also plays a key role. We used a number of varieties, repeating them here and there for continuity. Some are planted in the ground to fill gaps in the bed, but most are in containers where they are free from the competition of other plants and can flourish.
Speaking of containers, six terra-cotta pots provide added height. They’re painted in Valspar Gold Abundance (#3003-1A) and Heirloom Red (#1010-3) concrete paint. One set is gold with red trim, the other set is red with gold trim. We painted both the outside and inside of each pot to keep out moisture and prevent paint bubbling.
Good to Know: If you use a lightweight plastic pot (#318306) for an insert, you can lift the tender plants out of the heavier terra-cotta pots in fall and take them indoors for the winter.
Other shade-tolerant plants used in this landscape include the red and white flowers of New Guinea impatiens and the pink-and-green arrowhead leaves of caladium. We also slipped in some coralbells and even a burgundy sweet potato vine, which stays compact because of the shady conditions.
To satisfy the romantic heart, there are two hydrangeas: Endless Summer Original in a pot and Forever and Ever Peace in the ground. Peace has attractive pinkish white blooms; Endless Summer is blue or pink, depending on soil pH.
Good to Know: Leave those pruning shears in your pocket, because the flowers look good even after they fade, as you can see here.
- Assorted coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides)
- Mother-in-law’s tongue (Sansevieria trifasciata)
- Polka-dot plant (Hypoestes phyllostachya)
- Laceleaf Japanese maple (Acer palmatum dissectum ‘Viridis’)
- Variegated hosta (Hosta spp.)
- Torchy caladium (Caladium ‘Torchy’)
- Endless Summer hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla Endless Summer)
- Forever & Ever Peace hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Peace’)
- Burgundy Japanese maple (Acer palmatum dissectum ‘Ever Red’)
- Sweet potato vine (Ipomoea batatas ‘Blackie’)
- White and red New Guinea impatiens (Impatiens hawkeri)
- Coralbells (Heuchera ‘Blackout’ and ‘Caramel’)
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