Monday, January 23, 2017

Shade Gardens: Edmonton

Is it not glorious in Edmonton in July? 

Here's a few pictures from a July garden tour of gorgeous, peaceful, cool and shady backyard gardens in Edmonton. Thanks to the gardeners. Wow! Each garden was carefully designed to create a pleasant relaxing, sensual experience - an escape into nature within the city. Meandering paths lead to small seating areas or viewpoints, each with a unique vista. Even a small backyard garden can have many focal points that come into sight only as one travels through the garden. Include a table for eating and larger group gatherings, a bench tucked away for quiet contemplation, a fountain to enhance relaxation, a bird bath or pond to attract wildlife and plantings of differing heights to create a feeling of serenity and seclusion. 

Here's a few suggestions from my own gardening adventures of plants that thrive in shade in Alberta.


Hostas and wheel rim garden art - tucked away for discovery.

Hostas do well in shade in Edmonton. There are many hardy varieties of these leafy perennials. Come springtime, they are not early risers, you have to wait for them, but once grown, hostas are beautiful. Every few years they can be lifted in late summer, divided with  a swift thrust from a sharp shovel, and replanted. Plant them in the ground - they do not overwinter in containers in a cold climate. They don't thrive in hard clay soils either, so amend hard soils with leaves and compost.

A favourite shade flower is the annual impatients. They are super sensitive to frost, so only put them outdoors late in May.  They die early in September too, but they are so softly colourful - a treat for the eye in the shady garden. I grow them from seed, (start in late February - under lights). They are easily propagated from cuttings placed in water. Once the roots have grown, plant them into potting mix to further root and then plant into the garden. Impatients require a loose, light soil and a steady supply of water - they like moist organic soil. I grow them in pots under trees. Dappled shade works well.


Concrete tiered fountain and cedars = time to relax. A black chandelier for candles hangs from the tree. Behind, near the house, is a comfortable area for dining. The colors are soft, the mulch is brown bark, the trees provide shelter from the hot sun. 


The hardy perennial ground cover lamium grows in deep shade. Each year it spreads out a bit. Pretty leaves, with soft purple or pink flowers. You may find it popping up all over.

I have had great luck with the  evergreen shrub Dwarf Balsam Fir. It thrives in dappled shade and has readily survived our winters. It's hard to find in Edmonton. I brought my first one from southern Ontario about 20 years ago. I now have 3 dwarf balsam firs, all in shade, and all grow well.

I admire my pretty shrub Blizzard Mock Orange - one of my favorites. It takes center stage beside the front door step.  Like the Dwarf  Balsam Fir, the Blizzard Mock Orange is not a huge shrub, so it fits in with smaller urban yards. Look for fragrant white blossoms on Canada Day.



Bright begonias draw the eye. Create pockets of attractive beauty throughout the garden.

Concrete bench and urns suggest permanency. Stop, enjoy and be well amidst the soothing greenery.

White wrought iron  and wooden table for a pleasant, private visit.

A pretty picture of  rustic flower pots on big posts. Different height levels for interest.
Simple tranquility. This is enough to enhance calm contemplation.
A waterfall to the pond from a raised bed against the fence. 

Cedars in big pots for privacy and cooling greenery. Candle lamps to enjoy the garden after dark on a wooden bridge over the pond.



















Check out my video on how to grow great garlic in a northern climate.

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