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Mid-Atlantic Gardening: Brighten a Shade Garden

Brought to you by Lowe's Creative Ideas

Discover ideas to brighten a shade garden with light-color plants that thrive in the Mid-Atlantic region. Glean tips for reflecting light into shade gardens.

Shade gardens can sparkle

By Julie Martens Forney

Gardening in the shade has become a favorite activity in my yard. My garden offers part shade — direct morning sun for about 3 hours, dappled shade for an hour, and afternoon shade. I brighten afternoon shade with splashes of light from plants and garden art. Check out these techniques to turn on the light in shade gardens.

Metallic ornaments and white flowers

Add metal art and white flowers. A copper obelisk infuses the shadiest part of the bed with the gentle glow of reflected light. The white flowers of gooseneck loosestrife (Lysimachia clethroides) also brighten things up.

Many gardeners shy away from loosestrife, which tends to run amok. That’s one plus for shade gardens: Lower light levels can curtail wandering plants. Due to low light, my gooseneck loosestrife has remained a tidy clump years after planting.

golden oregano, lamb’s ears, Japanese painted fern

Count on leaf color. Shade gardens teach us the value of colorful leaves. Some of my favorite shade plants with colorful leaves: golden oregano (Origanum vulgare ‘Aureum’), lamb’s ears (Stachys byzantina), and Japanese painted fern (Athyrium nipponicum ‘Pictum’).

This plant trio glows and reflects light into shady areas. Next to the Japanese painted fern is European ginger (Asarum europaeum), whose shiny, leathery leaves also help reflect light.

Gold leaves shining in shade

Plants with gold leaves also bring a little dazzle to shade gardens. In my garden they include various coralbells, such as Heuchera ‘Southern Comfort’, shown here with creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia ‘Aurea’). I also plant gold spiderwort (Tradescantia ‘Sweet Kate’), golden oregano, and a gold-leaf hosta.

These small touches brighten a shade garden. Try a few of these shade-lightening techniques in your own shady spots to turn up the light.

Shade Gardening

See just how much you can do with a shady area in your garden. Our 10 regional gardening experts weigh in on their strategies.

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Mid-Atlantic Gardening

Early springs and late winters mean a long Mid-Atlantic gardening season.

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Regional Gardening

Check out a variety of garden plans, articles, videos, and special gardening tips for your region.

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