Gardener's Grapevine 2013.07.17

There is strength in numbers—who wrote that? I haven’t got a clue but it's true. Last Saturday our entire family got together at my mother-in-law's to roof the barn. The guys ripped the old one off and put the new one on while the girls cleaned up, kept everyone hydrated and fed, and the baby happy.

Jacquie (my daughter) and I trimmed trees and bushes. Since Mother’s trees are very old and large, it is interesting to trim them. She has the best looking silver maple in the rear of her property and it is very tall. The limbs were hanging almost to the ground so I held the branch down and Jac used the pruners to cut it back.

Of course this lightens the load on the tree and it springs backward and apparently so do I. Jacquie cut the branch and I tumbled over backwards. I thought Jacquie was going to wet her pants laughing and I wondered if walking again was a reality for me. I haven’t done a somersault in 10 years or more. The trees look great; my butt, however, is telling me how foolish its owner is.

​In front of our house is a row of crabapple trees. The trees block the lawn on the opposite side of the sidewalk so Art and I were trying to decide what to do as the lawn doesn’t grow well. The weeds, however, don’t care. What is it with weeds? Nothing else will grow but a weed? Of course it will. If we had a nuclear meltdown and it killed everything off, weeds would still be here.

Art and I discussed what to do with this area because it doesn’t have very nice curb appeal around the entrance to our home. Since shade is the issue I started thinking shade gardening, but do not want to put anything in that is going to go nuts and multiply all over the yard or require a lot of care.

With those requirements in mind, I started thinking of my two go-to plants for easy maintenance and controllability: hosta and daylilies. Stella de oro is my favorite variety of daylily. It clumps well, the bloom is a bright cheerful yellow and they are pretty care-free except for clearing the dead foliage in the spring. We bought the lilies and a hosta for each side that is variegated green in the center of the leaf with yellow around the edge. It should look very nice with the lilies.

Then we are going to plant some shade grass to see if we can get a successful yard going. If you see a giant mess out front in the next week don’t be surprised; feel free to stop and assist.

Thinking of this issue in my own yard got me thinking of other shade/partial shade plants and what would be available here so I gave Google a little Sunday attention and was really surprised at the amount of sites offered. I like the web side Shade Gardening for the Beginner. It is an interesting site with suggestions for different gardens, but what I found interesting is the lack of notification on whether the plant will spread or stay compact.

One garden calls for astilbe, forget-me-not, Solomon’s seal, hosta and witch hazel. I don’t know anything about witch hazel but I know if you plant forget-me-nots this year, next year there will be a little more and the following year they will be everywhere. I know because I’ve planted them. Pretty little blue flower that spreads worse than the worst case of poison ivy. Solomon’s seal is the same; it spreads everywhere and it’s native to our area so whoo-hoo, good luck with that one.

There are many plans on this site which is sponsored by Better Homes and Gardens. Check it out if you need some nice ideas for your shady area. Take care prior to going to the nursery to check and see how many of your plants are going to be good neighbors and stay put. Getting bigger is one thing, but needing constant attention is another. Good luck.