Best Perennials in My Shade Garden

(Gardening Zone 6b, Southeastern Massachusetts)

What a better way to start this blog than with an overview of some of the best perennials that I grow in my shade garden. These are all low maintenance, versatile plants with beautiful long-lasting blooms and foliage that provides multi-season interest. I plan on featuring each of these amazing perennials in future posts but wanted to give you a little sneak peek of what is to come.

Pulmonaria ‘Trevi Fountain’

Pulmonaria ‘Trevi Fountain’ is the star of my spring garden.

Bold cobalt-blue flowers attract hummingbirds and bees and last over a month in my spring garden. Once the blooms fade, they are replaced by large silver-spotted foliage that stays attractive until late fall. I grow my pulmonarias in a very shady spot accompanied by rhododendrons, hydrangea, hellebores, hostas and heuchera. Pulmonarias are an amazing care-free shade perennial that is inexplicably underused in the garden.

Tiarella (Foam Flower)

Airy bottlebrush flowers in spring are far superior than those of its cousin, the heuchera. Remove the spent flowers to encourage reblooming. Heuchera’s lovely foliage combines well with hostas and other shade perennials and stays ornamental until late fall.

Old Fashioned Bleeding Heart (Dicentra Spectabilis)

I grow three different varieties of bleeding hearts and the old fashioned pink variety is by far my favorite. A classic staple in the garden, this plant provides a cheerful reminder that spring is here with its graceful arching stems, heart-shaped blooms and fresh scent.

Variegated Solomon’s Seal

Variegated Solomon’s Seal is one of the easiest to grow and most versatile plants in my garden. It combines beautifully with anything else, thanks to its delicate color and elegant shape. As a bonus, its variegated foliage turns golden in fall providing late season interest. Tough as nails and rarely bothered by pests and disease, this is a plant that no shade garden should do without.

Hellebore

Hellebore ‘Ice Breaker Pico’

If I had to choose a single plant to grow in my garden, it would be the hellebore. I love everything about it – its gorgeous long-lasting blooms, evergreen foliage and unusual bloom time in winter. Hellebores provide beauty and joy in the garden while most everything else sleeps.

Astilbe

Plume-like flowers in a variety of colors brighten up my shade garden in early summer. The spent blooms look great combined with hydrangeas in dry arrangements. The delicate fern-like foliage of astilbes contrasts beautifully with the bold leaves of hostas which makes them excellent companions.

Hosta

H. ‘Fragrant Bouquet’ (middle); counterclockwise from top left: H. ‘Little Miss Sunshine’, H. ‘Waterslide’, H. ‘Little Miss Sunshine’, H. ‘Autumn Frost’

It is not surprising that hostas are among the the most commonly planted perennials in the garden. There are thousands of varieties on the market and new ones are being introduced all the time. I grow about 50 varieties (which is by no means considered a large collection) and my favorite are the small and miniature hostas due to their beauty and versatility.

What is your experience with the perennials featured in this post? What other amazing shade plants would you add to the list?

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