From the office window, the front garden, in the shade of the damn crab apple tree.
I can't bring much light to the topic for the Garden Blogger Design Workshop on Shade in the Garden. I do have a good amount of shade–most of which is provided in a dappled manner, pretty much all day long, from a crab apple tree in my front garden. My back yard is 90% sun, so this is my only significant shade.
First off, I like the shade it provides, but I hate the tree. Actually, I like it every two years for about three weeks. That's when it's covered in absolutely beautiful, pink blossoms. The next 23 months it seems as though in decline, and only serves to shade the garden. I'm told, in the '80s, it was hit by a neighbor that had a bit too much to drink. That didn't kill it (or him). Oh, and the suckers that come up from the tree are annoying. For the most part, I let 'em do what they want to. They are greenery after all.
The strip on the left is under planted with grape hyacinths. This row contains hosta, phlox, iris, rudbeckia, chameleon plant, columbine, Russian sage, spring bulbs, allium, perennial geranium, and more, capped off on the far end by a columnar apple tree.
I never really paid too much attention to putting shade-requiring plants in the front yard. There's plenty of sun worshipers there that seem to be thriving. Or, if they're not thriving to their max potential, they're smaller than full-size, and that's okay too. This is the less formal, jam-packed, chaotic, cacophony of plants I bought cause I liked (and had no other place to put them), or was given (and had no other place to put them). Now the garden is mature enough that even the perennials provide shade on each other.
When we moved in this plot was grass, the crab apple and a few bushes (thorny hedges, burning bush, holly, rhododendron and an azalea). Now it's chock-a-block full of dozens and dozens of perennials planted in berms created from the soil cleared out for the paths.
No more mowing, fertilizing, aerating, watering and patching. Now it's just watering occasionally (though it has a soaker hose snaked throughout the whole area, so that's not hard), weeding occasionally (mostly pulling Chinese lanterns), throwing down some compost once a year in the spring, and mulching right before the hordes show up for Garden Walk. I spend my time now each spring–not planting–but separating and dividing the plants.
Middle path: columbine, horseradish, lily, ferns, hosta, bellflower, bachelor buttons, huechera, grasses, iris, Chinese lanterns, forget-me-nots, and some groundcovers from a neighbor.
The shade garden is divided in four strips of garden with brick walkways in between. The bricks were in the garage when we moved in. The past owners collected them from Long Island, the land of their people. They are stamped with Long Island county names (the bricks, not the former owners), which is kinda' cool.
Columbine like the shade here. once the columbine dies away, only the apple suckers and lungwort remain. I just planted a clematis to climb the tree..
Often times, I can find (accompanied) toddlers wandering the paths. The meandering paths seem to be irresistible for little kids. I once found an art class out there sketching the yard. A few times a year, I can look out my office window and see people photographing the garden and/or house.
My favorite plant to stump other gardeners - this is my horseradish. Kind of an old-timey plant that seems to like the shade.
I just trimmed back the tree, as I do every few years, so it'll get more sun this summer. I'll have to see if the plants are happy with that. They really don't care much what I do, as long as I feed them and let them now I care.
The last path, nearest the house: shady characters - lonely peony that ended up there with the dirt from something else, ferns, hosta, burning bush, some sort of arborvitae, rhododendron, azalea, gooseneck loosestrife and lots more.
along the driveway. There are three of these immense hosta that get closer to each other every year.
Toward the neighbor's house. There's that soaker hose.
Gotta' move the rhododendron. It's too crowded where it is.
From the porch: the dappled shade is there until about an hour and a half before the sun goes down.