This story of a shade path design all started last winter when I was critically looking at my garden pictures of every border and deciding on what projects to tackle in the spring.
The picture below shows a spot in my back border by the woods line that I always found very challenging. The native clay soil, lots of large roots of the nearby trees and a very dry area in the summers due to afternoon sun is killing everything but weeds there.
In a broader view this challenging spot is circled in white showing no interest during all growing season. Just boring!
The front of the dreadful spot near the grass gets 3-4 hours of afternoon sun and the back of the bed gets almost none. So I said to myself this is a shade to part shade area..What is new? I have that almost everywhere in that long border!
What to do with this area? Eureka! Here it is!
This is page in a Garden book that I bought 20 years ago and shows you how to build various gardens. This chapter covers Creating a Shade pathway. I fell in love with this picture many many years ago and I had it memorized...Why didn't I think of this earlier?
So spring came (not early enough for me) and in early May I went shopping for the perfect Red impatiens with the perfect matching Red Caladiums. Apparently there was a shortage of impatiens early this year, so I settled with New Guinea impatiens (which hate dryness by the way). Caladium on the other hand was available in abundance at the local home improvement garden store and I grabbed five caladiums with gorgeous red foliage.
On May 7, 2013 (a day before the last frost in my area according to me) I eagerly transformed the troublesome area by using uneven path stones from other areas of this border, the above plants, some splits of Brunera"Jack Frost" and a lot of patches of Blue carpet stonecrop that expanded very fast in other areas of my yard.
Picture above shows the shade path at the end of the planting day.
Then all plants grew beautifully and above you see the pathway two weeks later with a little morning sun.
How about five weeks later, in June?
But where is the Caladium? Oh, did I mentioned that we had a couple of frost nights after May 8? Yes we did! I planted Caladium too early for Ohio and it died! So the impatiens are on their own to carry the color all by themselves! I also added a couple of hostas, ferns, divided the large daylily clump from the right and moved a piece to the left and also planted more Lady's mantle (Alchemilla mollis) splits to create more lushness around the path.
Above, a closer look in June with the blooming Spiderwort or Tradescantia (Little Doll variety to the left and Sweet Kate variety to the right) at the front of the path where it gets enough sun to thrive.
My pathway The idea pathway
What do you think?
In my opinion, the path design with the water fountain as focal point made the area a lot more interesting than it was before.
Because the path is part of a continuous large border, when nothing is in bloom it still works because the eye goes to a nearby section that is at peak color.
Like here in August. The new shade pathway blends with the garden from the distance but doesn't disapear like before.
The New Guinea impatiens struggled with the dry area even though I water once in while.
As self criticism, this path needs colorful annuals that tolerate drought and some structural perennial plants that will make it interesting in the late season and winter. I have to think about this some more! It is a challenging area to grow anything in, so any suggestions you have are very welcomed!