ShadyGardens Blog

April 4, 2009

Hellebores: Deer Proof Groundcover for Shade

Filed under: buy, Deer, evergreen, gardens, groundcover, Hellebore, Hellebores, Helleborus, nursery, online, proof, resistant, shade, Shady — shadygardens @ 2:51 pm

Hellebore, Helleborus, commonly referred to as Lenten Rose, is what I call a perfect garden plant! Rich green palmate leaves look lush even on the coldest days of winter. Blooms begin opening right after Christmas and can be enjoyed right up until the beginning of spring. And if the fact that Hellebores are evergreen and winter blooming isn’t enough for you, would you believe that deer won’t eat it?


Hellebores are very easy to grow. They do enjoy a rich soil, but are very drought tolerant plants. Our modest patch of hellebores is located in an area of the shade garden that we cannot reach with the hose.

Blooms which appear in winter and very early spring are varied in color. They can be white, green, pink, maroon, or even speckled! When the blooms begin to fade, seeds develop. Within a few years your hellebore patch can double in size.

Once the blooms are gone, new bright green new growth emerges. The palmate deep green leaves make a very attractive groundcover up to 18 inches tall.

Hellebores can be grown almost anywhere in the United States, since it’s hardy in USDA Zones 4-8.

Well-drained soil is best, so amend with compost to make your plants happy.

Try some hellebores in your garden, and they’ll make you happy as well!

December 30, 2007

Rohdea: Beautiful Year Round in Dry Shade!

Rohdea Japonica, also known as Japanese Sacred Lily, is a low-growing evergreen plant that is a great substitute for Hosta. Rohdea actually thrives in dry shade gardens, and is not bothered by deer. A native of the Orient, Rohdea should be more widely planted here. Its low-maintenance and tolerance for poor, dry soil make it an easy plant to grow, even for busy gardeners. The 1 foot long deep green leaves form an upright vase-shaped clump that will cover a 2 foot area in several years. In late fall the insignificant flower stalks will develop into a 6-inch stalk of bright red berries at the base of the plant–just in time for Christmas! The berries are eaten by birds and squirrels which help to disperse the seed for more plants in the garden. Usually difficult to find in the United States, Rohdea is highly prized in Japan, with some fancy-leaved varieties often selling for thousands of dollars. If you can find it, Rohdea is definitely worth planting in the garden. Rohdea Japonica needs shade and will even grow in very deep shade with little water. This drought tolerant plant is perfect for a xeriscape garden in shade. Hardiness: USDA Zones 6-10.

December 29, 2007

Fragrant Jasmine

Trachelospermum jasminoides is a very fragrant Jasmine that is known by several different common names. Star Jasmine, known as Confederate Jasmine in the Southeast, is an evergreen plant that can be grown as a vine or groundcover. The fragrance is heavenly in late spring when it blooms most profusely, but the plant will rebloom sporadically throughout the summer. Shiny dark green leaves turn red in winter, adding to the year round beauty of the plant. Trachelospermum Jasminoides is often grown as a houseplant where it isn’t hardy outdoors, but Confederate Jasmine is hardy in USDA Zones 8 -11. Preferring part to full shade, the Star Jasmine makes a great privacy screen when allowed to climb a trellis or fence. It makes a great container plant too, where it will continue to thrive if it must spend the winter indoors. This jasmine is a moderate to fast spreader, yet it isn’t considered invasive. There are no known pests or diseases involving this plant. Confederate Jasmine, or Star Jasmine, would make a beautiful addition to any Southern garden. If you’re interested in purchasing this plant, you will find it at http://www.shadygardens.biz.

November 6, 2007

Dry Soil Groundcovers: Pachysandra, Rudbeckia, and Many More!

I love groundcovers. There’s just something about them that makes me want to have every one I see. Groundcovers can be an important addition to our Southern gardens. They act as a living mulch, helping to conserve moisture around trees and shrubs. Many groundcovers are evergreen, so they add beauty to the garden in every season. There are groundcovers that bloom, and even groundcovers that make berries! Groundcovers can be found that thrive in sun, shade, and even the most difficult dry shade. Whether your taste for plants leans toward the exotic, like Hellebores and Rohdea, or if you prefer native plants, such as native ferns, consider adding them beneath the shrubs in your garden. There are many native groundcovers that are evergreen, and some even produce berries, like Mitchella (Partridgeberry). Groundcovers like creeping phlox can help control erosion. Good groundcovers for sun include the sedums, ice plant, and rudbeckia (Black eyed Susan.) Certain rose varieties also make excellent groundcovers. Beware of groundcovers that can take over the garden, seeming to eat other plants alive, crowding out everything else. Instead of invasive English Ivy or the popular Japanese pachysandra, try our native pachysandra, Allegheny Spurge. Or if it’s a vine you’re after, plant Crossvine, Carolina Jasmine, or Lonicera sempervirens—all native vines that will not overtake your garden.

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