For most of the year, it can be easy to overlook shade trees as exciting plants. But once fall arrives, we can't look away from the colors. Sweetgum trees are some of the most stunning you'll find. With pale yellow, rich gold, vibrant orange, scarlet, and deep maroon - sometimes all at once on the same tree - they deserve at least as much attention as everyone's favorite maple.
There are many kinds of hydrangeas, and we love all of them for the landscape. Yet it seems like the blue and pink mopheads and the dramatic Annabelle hydrangeas seem to take the spotlight when we think of hydrangeas. Possibly the least well-known, but still very widely used, is the panicle hydrangea, known for its excellent winter hardiness, strong branches, and mid-to-late summer cone-shaped flowers.
If you're looking for an adaptable, colorful, varied, and space-filling family of plant, cranesbill (also known as geranium or hardy geranium) may be what you're looking for. There are cranesbills adapted to sun or partial shade, ones that form tidy little mounds or sweeping masses, bright and vibrant flowers or cool shades. Some are even semi-evergreen! Read on to learn more.
Most grasses do not do well in shade, as anyone who has tried to grow a dense lawn on a wooded lot can confirm. There are, however, a few ornamental grasses and relatives of grasses that love the low light conditions of a wood edge or an airy forest. Japanese forest grass is one of these. It doesn't like dense shade, but in filtered light conditions it brings gorgeous texture and movement to the landscape.
This month's featured plant is one of my favorite perennials. Epimedium is a adaptable, four season, shade loving, drought tolerant spreading perennial that makes a great bed edge or groundcover. Did I mention that it has almost no pest and disease problems, and that deer and rabbits leave it alone? And it has unique spring flowers. It deserves a spot in any landscape with shade, and it's truly a shame it isn't more widely known in Indiana.
After the bright lights and colors of the holiday season it can be nice to settle down with a little subtle color left in the landscape after the lights come down. Close cousins coralberry and snowberry are great picks for low-key, hazy winter interest. It's definitely not a plant for a formal garden, but if you have more of a natural style or if you're looking to add a little something special to a wooded edge, this may be just the thing you need.