One of the Year's Ten Best Gardening Books, 2004, Fine Gardening
“A masterpiece, full of charm and humor.” —Dr. Rebecca W. Dolan, Director, Friesner Herbarium, Butler University
Whether it’s urban, suburban, or rural, nearly every property has some shade, if only on the north side of the house. Countless more are “blessed” with giant trees planted decades ago that screen out the sunlight. Under such conditions, you may think that it’s impossible to have an interesting garden without a lot of work. Not so if you are willing to learn about the plethora of easygoing horticultural gems that don’t require full sun.
Most gardeners think only of impatiens and hostas for their shady areas, but shade gardening can be far more interesting, and even exciting—and you need not work too hard at it if you incorporate some lesser-known but easy-to-grow plants into your landscape. Judiciously mixing the common plants with the more unusual ones can help the busy, tired, or lazy gardener create a special and unique retreat.
Carolyn Harstad, author of the best-selling Go Native!, organizes this book around the principle that an interesting shade garden is well balanced and has a variety of plantings. Early chapters focus on designing the low-maintenance garden. Further chapters discuss small trees, shrubs, dwarf conifers, vines, ground covers, ferns, grasses, perennials, woodland wildflowers, spring bulbs, and annuals (yes, there are annuals that enjoy shade!).
She discusses hundreds of shade-tolerant plants hardy in Zones 4-8, suggests how they may be used and combined, and recommends methods to reduce garden maintenance—a universal concern in this fast-paced world. With its informative text, accurate drawings, and colorful photographs, this book is a “must have” for gardeners across much of North America.