From the Sperry Garden – October, 2007

We have a lot of shade in our North Texas landscape. Some might become discouraged by such shade, but I’ve always considered it to be a real plus. It just requires some adjustments in thinking.

I’ve shown this part of our garden in our magazine and in e-gardens before, but never from exactly this angle. While this is a mid-winter photo taken less than 36 hours ago, it still shows the main concepts I was trying to achieve. I have used shade-loving shrubs for all of these plantings. I’m a holly freak. We currently have 30 or more types in our gardens. I love their neutral, dark green shades since they set off any variegated or flowering plants I might use in front of them.

In this bed, you see Nellie R. Stevens hollies in the background here. In the foreground are my beloved leatherleaf mahonias (left) and gold dust aucuba (right). These plants bring different leaf colors and they bring curious growth forms and textures to their surroundings. Both require total shade after 8 or 9 on a summer morning. I’m especially fond of the blue-gray leaves of the mahonia (they are somewhat more green than usual currently), and almost everybody loves the variegation of gold dust. You do have to be careful, however, not to use it too abundantly lest it become visually distracting.

You’ve seen several of our antique English chimney pots in photos in our magazine, in my calendar and probably here. I use these for their own character and artistic interest, but I also use them as pedestals for hanging baskets. I will put a post in the ground, then cut it off a few inches lower than the crown of the chimney pot, then I’ll put the chimney pot down over the post. That way I can set a hanging basket atop the post and it will actually make it look like the plant is using the pot as its support. Ferns are especially attractive this way.

I use a shade-loving groundcover on the floor of this forest. In some of our plantings it’s Persian ivy. In others it’s mondograss. It all depends on whether I’m looking for bold or fine texture from the planting.

That’s it from the Sperry home garden for this month. We’re in the process of some major remodeling elsewhere in our plantings. I’ll report back soon.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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