Garden Thyme, Spring

New Backyard Shade Garden in Progress



Hello my garden-loving friends! Today I am sharing a post about the new backyard shade garden in progress at our new home. It’s origins are bittersweet, but very special nonetheless. Just last week my grandmother passed away, and the only thing I could do to deal with the grief this past weekend was a little garden therapy. I had just started a new shade garden at our new house, and I really wanted some giant hostas to be focal points and to build around.  None of the local garden centers had the kind I wanted however.

  As it turns out, my grandmother Louise had planted two giant hostas outside the window of her residential home eight years ago. She had brought them from her previous home, so when we were clearing out her belongings inside and out the residential facility manager allowed me to dig them up.  Now they are at home in my new garden. Almost instantly, the space began to fill up and I feel certain she would have wanted me to have them. It is almost like she gave us a little housewarming gift, and there will always be a part of her at our new home!


Blank Slate

For as excited as I have been about all the possibilities for the interiors of our new home, I have been absolutely depressed over the landscape and small backyard, especially after just creating a dream backyard cottage garden at the yellow brick home last summer with a new she shed. We do have a fabulous deck at our new home where I will have veggies, flowers, and herbs in  containers galore right outside our kitchen, with no more worry about pesky deer! I am super excited about that!


The only thing in our backyard when we bought the house was a red bud tree and the giant clump of hellebores I shared earlier this spring on the opposite side of this picture. Here I had started planting some struggling azaleas I moved from the front foundation and just a few coral bells that survived winter. The boxwood topiary urn was just for reference as I began to plan.


Shade Garden Inspiration

Here are some pictures of various shade plants, shrubs and trees with some designs that I find inspiring.


Les Fleurs

Various shades of green, purple, blue and gray have always been my favorite color palette for both sun and shade gardens.


Three Dogs in a Garden

Creating layers upon layers of interest through plants with various textures rather than blooms is the goal in a shade garden.


Fine Gardening


I go back and forth between a naturalistic shade garden, and more formal English style gardens. In the end I am sure it will just turn out the way it turns out based on what plants I end up snagging on clearance sales or any that I am gifted from friends. 



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I also want a very Linda Vater inspired garden (my gardening muse!) with English and European appointments and lots of boxwoods interspersed among hosts, ferns and other shade perennials.


Fine Gardening

I love how urns can help add height and interest to a shade garden where tree roots prohibit in ground plantings.



A First Look at the Backyard Shade Garden in Progress

It didn’t take long to find perfect spots for Mammaw’s hostas. I just love having them at our new home, because they make me feel close to her and remember our shared love of gardening!

 I really think this space is going to be spectacular in the not too distant future, but there’s still  a lot of work to do. All of the red decking and fence will be painted a charcoal black sometime in May (similar to photo below).  I will be adding lattice work to the deck behind the hostas to block off the carport and provide structure in the shade garden.


  Federal Twist




I have so many rocks still at the yellow brick home that I plan to swipe and move. Once all the rocks are in place, it will make the shade garden-in-progress look much more finished and help with my impatience!



Honestly this front section doesn’t need many more plants. Once the chartruese sedum ground cover fills in and teh heuchera (coral bells) really take off, it will seem full. I need to start working on the “background” on the other side of the tree.




My old concrete birdbath will soon be a focal point in the muddy area just behind the large hosta Hopefully I can find some some giant ferns and other interesting shade plants to plant around the base.




This weekend I also dug up a peony and planted it in the large urn until fall when I decide where it will end up in the landscape. It also adds some visual interest and height while other things are filling in.  Just to the right of the urn is a new black beauty elderberry and I can’t wait for it to mature!



Gardener’s Path

It will grow up to 8×12 if it likes the conditions, providing a gorgeous backdrop, moody color, texture and interest. We do plan to switch out the fencing for taller privacy fencing that will be painted dark gray. It isn;t heavy shade under the red maple, so it should do well, and it can be trimmed back if needed.


Well that’s about all for now, but I will share an update post as I make more progress! If you have any ideas for shade plants that are fast growing and provide privacy, please do share!

Do you have a shade garden? I love hearing your ideas!

Thanks for visiting!



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  • Reply Debra@CommonGround

    This is going to be gorgeous, Amber. How wonderful that you have your grandmother’s plants… and her love of gardening!!

    May 1, 2023 at 7:17 pm
  • Reply Rita C at Panoply

    I so appreciate both your vision and work already invested in what you’re doing Amber. I hope the deer don’t eat your hostas, or else you’ll need to put those under protection. I love rocks too, and I know you will make this landscape beautiful. It’s all about patience. I am feeling the same with my own landscape. I really wish I could’ve given you lily-of-the-valley, I’ve had some friends tell me they don’t spread quickly as passalongs, but I had SO MANY dirt clods FULL of them, I’m sure they’ve settled in right away. Sad that I couldn’t get but 1 taker.

    May 3, 2023 at 3:08 pm
  • Reply Linda Primmer

    Great vision! Gardening is a lot of work, but so worth it. I love the inspiration. How special to have your grandmother’s plants. I am happy to feature your new shade garden in progress.

    May 8, 2023 at 11:26 am
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