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Traditional Shade Garden Ideas

Plants for a Traditional Shade Garden
The bleeding heart blossoms make perfect accompaniment to tulips and forget-me-nots.
The bleeding heart blossoms make perfect accompaniment to tulips and forget-me-nots.

Not every garden requires a full day of direct sunlight to grow. To the contrary, many beautiful flowers prefer shade to sunlight, allowing for a lovely garden even in unlikely places.

Certainly, plant selection is much more limited for a shady growing space, but the following plant profiles will help you determine which flowers are ideal for those less sunny locales.

Bleeding Heart

The distinctive pink-and-white heart-shaped flowers of the bleeding heart bloom late in spring, and disappear by midsummer.

Brunnera, Siberian Bugloss

Dark blue flowers appear in small sprays on this shady, ground-cover plant.

Epimedium, Bishop's Hat, Barrenwort

Growing low to the ground, bishop's hat produces lovely white or rose spurred flowers.

Impatiens, Busy Lizzie, Patience

Preferring shade and moisture, impatiens will grow nearly anywhere, making it perfect for window boxes, pots, edging, or as a border.


Star-shaped flowers grow in greenish white clumps, both in the sun and in the shade.

Pulmonaria, Lungwort

A colorful plant, the trumpet-shaped flowers bloom pink in spring, and gradually change to blue through the summer, accompanied by silver-splashed leaves.

Variegated Broad-Leaved Sedge

With its small size and striking appearance, the variegated broad-leaved sedge makes a perfect accent. Its cream-striped leaves stand out in the sun or the shade.

Western Sword Fern

Though the western sword fern can take some sunlight, the leathery, lance-shaped fronds prefer a moist, shady place to grow.

Wood Anemone

Appearing in carpets of blue or white star-shaped blooms, the wood anemone looks beautiful in shady environments.

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