Thursday, February 9, 2012

Ask The Flower Fanatics: A north-facing patch...

Have a question for the Flower Fanatics?  Post in the comment section or send it to us via FB or Twitter. We LOVE hearing from you! 
~ Farmer Bob, Saffie, Cammie...and the occasional mysterious guest.
Question:  I have a "what can I plant here?" question. We have a deck with trellis attached.  We planted fuscia colored morning glories on the trellis last year.  I understand they will come back?  What can I plant in front?  It's probably 10" from the mulch line to the trellis.  It wraps around in an L-shape and is north facing.  Partial sun.  I'm open to buying plants but prefer things I can grow from seed (cheaper, more fun).  We're zone 7 (north Alabama) and humid.  Would love to hear your ideas! ~ Carrie N.  

Answer: (from Cammie)
Dear Carrie N.,
I hope you saw my post yesterday about the Morning Glory.  Hopefully what you have are the good guys.  If you planted them you should be fine but take a look and be sure first...
The first thought when you mention shade is some beautiful old moss-covered stones tucked into the landscape.  A walk in the woods with a strong friend should produce a good stone of two.  Just keep a look out and you should come across some.  The moss itself grows best with moisture, shade (although there are some mosses that enjoy sun), and without competition (a clean surface with no debris).  I also really want to say you should add a sitting bench in there but if that is cost prohibitive it is not necessary.  
So, flowers.  If it's shady and zone 7, please plant Lily of the Valley.  There is nothing sweeter than this tiny bell-shaped bloom and what a bonus that you can cut them and bring inside to enjoy.  One of my favorites (in the upper half of my top 100 favorite flowers).  Here's a picture:
Lily of the Valley
Another good shade choice is the hellebore.  Take a look at our post from a few weeks back and you will see some lovely hellebore photos and advice from Farmer Bob on how to grow them.  They are a great choice.  

Next, bleeding heart.  This is another delicate bloom great for cutting and so lovely in a shaded spot.  I prefer the pink (even though they look like little rotisserie chickens!)  I especially love this bloom cut and placed in a vase with snowball pretty.
Bleeding heart
Finally, trycertis, also known as Toad Lily.   This one will bloom a bit later than the others I mentioned and once established will be quite prolific.  Another great cut and you simply can't convince me that there aren't fairies living in these little beauties.  Just might just agree.  
I'd really love to add a couple hosta's to this mix as well as a vine of clematis to your trellis but for a start the above choices should set you in the right direction.  
A few overall design suggestions; plant in clusters with a separating focal point (either the mossy rocks I mentioned or a mounded ground cover (thyme is a great one) or a bench).  Good design needs dimension.  Some of these flowers are tiny and low to the ground so planting around a collection of great looking stones will give them an atmosphere that makes you want to bend down, snap some photos and inhale the beautiful perfume.

Thank you for your question and let us know how it all turns out!

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