Garden Therapy! Colorful Shade Plants!

Garden Therapy!  Colorful Shade Plants!

So far, spring in Utah where I live hasn’t consisted of too many sunny days…but thank goodness the sun does eventually shine!  Meanwhile, I’ve been wandering our local garden centers in anticipation of getting out in my flowerbeds again.  Usually, my focus is on good hardy plants that will survive and thrive in the heat of the summer sun, but since the trees are maturing and getting bigger in my yard, I’ve been doing a little research on fun, colorful plants that do good in shady areas.

Colorful Shade Plants!

Well-Known Shade Plants!

  • Impatiens

Probably one of the most recognizable and popular colorful shade plants is Impatiens; they are fairly hardy plants and require little care other than moderate watering and some insect and slug control, since snails love their delicate petals and aphids breed well in shady areas.

Colorful Shade plants--impatiens.

Impatiens are pretty annual flowers that come in a variety of colors and bloom all summer long.  They usually grow about 8-10 inches tall.  I like to plant a combination of all the bright colors in some of my shady flower beds.

Slug and pest control for flowers.

I’ve found sprinkling Corry’s slug bait in the mulch around my plants works best to protect them against snails, and that Bayer Flower Insect Spry does a great job of protecting flowers from a variety of insects–it’s also animal safe.

I think we’re all pretty familiar with many of the more well-known shade plants, typically planted in the north facing areas of our yards.  Growing up, we had a large side yard that faced north where several pine trees grew; it was a favorite place to play with neighborhood friends during the summer, since it didn’t get the heat of the midday sun.  My mom grew rhubarb plants along the fence and planted what seemed like hundreds of colorful Impatiens under the pine trees.   

Impatient: Colorful shade flowers.

Impatiens will do well in rocky and clay soil if you just add some sand and mulch to your dirt for the best flowering results.  Since decorative, cement curbing wasn’t available back then, my parents often lined rocks around their flowers beds–I love the natural look and have used some in parts of my yard.

  • Coleus    

One of my very favorite shade plants is coleus; the variety and colors of these lush, leafy plants seems to be endless.  Coleus are a great filler to any flowerbed, but also gorgeous all on their own!

Coleus plants.

Coleus provide stunning color to any shade area.  Most varieties grow 16-18 inches tall, but you can pinch them back so the plants grow out more full.  

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Colorful shade plants for container pots.

Impatiens and coleus are perfect for porch planters where there’s no direct sun! 

  • Pansies and Violas

These pretty, lacy-edged flowers were a favorite of both my grandmother and my mother-in-law.  They’re usually the first flowers you’ll see blooming in all their pretty color combinations come springtime.

Colorful shade flowers-pansies and violas.

While pansies and violas tend to thrive in the cooler, early spring sun, I’ve found that they don’t like the heat of the hotter summer sun unless planted in shady areas that only allows for some indirect sunlight to shine on them.

Colorful shade flowers-pansies and violas.

If you’ll pinch off the old, wilted blooms on your pansy and viola flowers, it will help generate new ones much quicker.  They require regular watering too.

Other Colorful Shade Plants!

  • Lamium 

Lamium, better known to me as purple dragon, is a pretty perennial flowering ground cover that blooms most of the summer.  I love the variegation of the silvery green color of the leaves along with the unique flower shape.  (There’s a white flower variety too.) 

Colorful shade flowers-lamium.

I like to mix Lamium in with other kinds of ground cover under the big maple trees in my back yard for some fun added color and texture.  

  •  Astilbe

When I was first in search of some long lasting, blooming shade perennial flowers, a cute gal at our nearby garden center introduced me to Astilbe flowers–my granddaughters knowingly refer to them as feather duster plants–since that is exactly what they look like!  (Your yard will thank you in lush plants if you become good friends with your local plant ladies…and guys–seriously, such fun people and they all love what they do!)    

astilbe-bloom

Astilbe flowers can tolerate some indirect sunlight, but do best when planted in mostly shady areas.  They also like soil that stays pretty moist, so you will want to keep the slug bait and sprinkle some around them every other week.  Even when their blooms fade, they have a neat rustic look to them.   

  • Hydrangeas

I was always fascinated with the ever-changing color hues of the hydrangea bushes my grandmother grew in her beautiful gardens, and to this day the smell of them reminds me of the blooms she’d clip and put in fun vases throughout her house.  For some reason though, I didn’t think I had the “green thumb” so to speak, to keep any growing in my own yard…but come to find out, they are really very easy to grow as long as you plant them in more shady flowerbeds that don’t get hot afternoon sun and fertilize them regularly.

Colorful Shande flowers-hydrandeas

I usually plant the “Endless Summer” variety of Hydrangea bushes because, as the name indicates, they bloom all summer long.  I love how the blossoms fade from bright pink to a pale bluish hue as they mature.  Hydrangeas like mulch rich, moist soil.  Plant Hydrangeas where there is room to grow since they will get about 3-5 feet high.  I treat them with Bayer pest spray once a month. 

Easy to grow Endless Summer hydrangeas.

I love to plant Hydrangea bushes in large ceramic pots in my flower beds too; just water every other day and make sure there’s good drainage.

My grandma was such a neat influence in my life.  As a child, I loved working together in her flowerbeds; those memories are some of the main reasons I look forward to getting out in my own yard this time of year–she often told me that…

Quote about spring.

Whatever you like to do to renew your spirit this special springtime of year…I  hope you find it in abundance!

What are some colorful shade plants you love to plant in your yard?  Do you have any handy yard care tips that you’d share with us here?

–Mary

Garden Therapy! Planting Herbs…And A Mint Limeade Recipe!

pots

Garden Therapy!  Planting Herbs…And A Mint Limeade Recipe!

Garden Therapy! Planting Herbs! www.mytributejournal.com

“For me, there is nothing quite as satisfying as telling the people you’ve invited over for lunch that the food they are eating first started in your garden!”   Curtis Stone – Chef 

For a gal who enjoys gardening and has helped her husband grow a variety of garden vegetables throughout the years, I have to confess that until a few years ago, I hadn’t really tried my hand at growing herbs–the Schilling company had usually met my needs for the herbs and spices I used for cooking.

Garden Therapy! Planting Herbs! www.mytributejournal.com

 Although I hadn’t planted herbs myself until just recently, I remember my grandma’s kitchen window sills being lined with small pots containing beautiful, fragrant herbs!

In my research on growing herbs, I found the general consensus to be that if you plant herbs in your garden, they should be In a cordened off space, separated from the rest of your vegetables, since herbs are prolific growers and can easily take over a garden space.  Herbs thrive the most when they get early morning sunlight and should be generously soaked when watered, but the dirt should be allowed to dry out in between watering sessions.  Also, for the best flavor and to extend their harvest season, some herbs, like mint, should be pinched back as flowers start to appear.

Garden Therapy! Planting herbs! www.mytributejournal.com

A separate planter box for herbs would be an ideal space to plant herbs and keep them contained from spreading into the rest of your other vegetable garden.  (These are easily made by cutting and securing a couple of layers of 2X4 wood planks or railroad ties together to a size that fits your space.)   

IMG_455984025 (3)

My husband and I chose to start our maiden voyage into the world of herb gardening by planting a few of our favorite herbs (basil, thyme and mint)  in a big container pot. 

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The rich colors and textures of the various herbs are as pretty as any of the flowers in our other pots.

It only takes a quick glance online for you to be able to find countless unique and clever ideas for planting herbs…..

Garden Therapy! Planting Herbs! www.mytributejournal.com

Even if your herbs are growing in an outside garden during the summer months, you could easily transplant them to containers for inside use during the winter months too.  (I also think planting herbs in clay pots or other decorative planters can bring a fun element to your home décor too.)

A Tasty Mint Limeade Recipe!

The delicious mint limeade at Vinto’s Pizzeria, one of mine and my husband’s favorite restaurants, was what first inspired us to try our hand at growing a few herbs of our own!  Adding fresh basil to home-made spaghetti definitely sold us on using fresh herbs in some other recipes too.

Mint Limeade at Vinto's. www.mytributejournal.com

A few fresh mint leaves mixed in with a tangy limeade drink is summer in your mouth!  (You could always add some grape juice to make a refreshing lime rickey too.)   

After making and adapting several variations, this is the recipe I love for Mint Limeade:

Mint Limeade! www.mytributejournal.com

Depending how sweet or tart you prefer your limeade, adjust sugar accordingly.  I put in about a half liter of seltzer or ginger ale to this recipe–again, add to your liking. 

Mint Limeade Recipe! www.mytributejournal.com

Mint Limeade is the perfect drink to serve and enjoy for a patio party too!  Enjoy!!

Do you have a favorite drink that hits the spot and quenches your thirst on a hot summer day?  I hope you’ll share!

–Mary

Garden Therapy! Hardy Houseplants!

Garden Therapy!  Hardy Houseplants!

Compared to the East coast, we have had a very mild winter season here in Utah, but that doesn’t mean I still don’t have a bit of spring fever!  I’m especially excited to get outside and do some gardening, but since Utah is considered to be a Zone 6 growing climate, and planting flowers outside is not generally advised until right around Mother’s Day, so other than doing some basic clean-up, I have had to rely on hardy plants on my porch and inside my house to tide me over until then!

Garden Therapy! Hardy Houseplants!

Although we may dream of having an indoor “Shangri la” garden of sorts, our time restraints and abilities aren’t always conducive to creating it–that doesn’t mean we can’t have a little piece of plant paradise in our homes!

Garden Therapy! Hardy Houseplants!

 (via “Decorating With Plants” by Marybeth Little Weston)

A Few Hardy, Awe-Inspiring Houseplants!

Pothos:

Although my mother and grandma adorned their homes with beautiful plants, my first houseplant was a variegated pathos that hung in a macramé plant holder in my first college apartment!  It is so hard to believe that macramé has made such a huge come-back in home décor, (…who would have ever guessed???) but pothos plants have always been popular houseplants because of their hardiness and their brilliant green leaves!

Pothos plant in macreme plant holder www.mytributejournal.com

Now days, I usually put one out on my patio during the summer months.  Pothos plants trail beautifully and just need to be watered every few days, but they don’t do well in direct sunlight.

Patio decor! www.mytributejournal.com

Variegated ivy plants are very similar to pathos as far as their ease of care, stunning leaf color and trailing quality.

Ivy plant www.mytributejournal.com

Ferns:

My mom used to have a large fern sitting on a gold pedestal stand in the entryway of her home.  Other than needing to give ferns a good weekly watering, along with an occasional spritzing and a some filtered morning light, ferns are a great way to give a blah corner in your home some great color and texture!

Garden Therapy! Hardy Houseplants! www.mytributejournal.com

p-4515Ferns make great outdoor plants in your yard too, as long as they are kept in a spot that is mostly shady!

Garden Therapy! Hardy Houseplants! www.mytributejournal.com

I’m in love with the new little air ferns that are so popular today and require little or no care!  Pinterest is chalk-full of eclectic ideas on displaying these fun ferns!

Air ferns www.mytributejournal.com

Succulents:

If there was a special plant award given for the best “come-back” plant of the year, succulents would win it, hands down!  Home Depot even has a special section of their plant area devoted to succulents!  I have leaned that the key to succulent care is not to overwater.

Succulent housplants www.mytributejournal.com

It tickled me to see that my daughter, who lives in New York City, even gave her urban apartment a little punch of plant life with some fun succulents!

Hardy succulent house plants www.mytributejournal.com

Kalanchoe:

This time of year, I really start craving some natural color in my home, but other than bunches of fresh cut flowers from a flower shop or grocery store, I couldn’t find too many hardy flowering houseplants until I came across Kalanchoe plants.

Flowering houseplants www.mytributejournal.com

Kalanchoe come in a variety of colors and are reasonably priced  at most garden centers.  They have a long blooming timeframe and will do well outside on your porch or patio as long as temperatures are above freezing.

Other colorful plants that do well both inside and out are coleus, begonias, and geraniums.  I remember my grandmother transplanting many of her begonia and geranium plants into clay pots in the fall and putting them on her kitchen window sill before the first freezing temperatures of winter–then she would plant them back out in her yard during the spring and summer months.  I am just not that ambitious, but it sure made for lovely flowers inside…and out during each season of the year!

Hardy houseplants! www.mytributejournal.com

I still like to get some fresh cut flowers for around my house too!  Although tulips aren’t really considered to be hardy flowers, since they only last about a week or so, it just doesn’t seem quite right not to have a vase or two of them around the house during springtime!

Spring tulips www.mytributejournal.com

Another thing I do to get the most bang for my buck when it comes to fresh flowers is to pick out a variety of what florists call “filler” flowers at my local flower shop.  I can’t explain why, but they seem to have a better longevity than some of the regular sized blooms and are just as pretty!

Garden Therapy! Hardy Houseplants! www.mytributejournal.com

As great as the plants are themselves, finding some neat containers and pots to plant them in and then displaying them in ways that accent your home décor is just as fun!

Pansies www.mytributejournal.com

All your Easter candy gone, why not fill your basket with pansies then!

Forsythia blossoms www.mytributejournal.com

With bright forsythia blossoms in it, this old bucket I got never looked so good!

Garden Therapy! Hardy Houseplants! www.mytributejournal.com

This rustic plant décor, via “Country Living” magazine, is definitely my zen!

According to an article by Yahoo Makers having houseplants can actually help improve the air quality of your home too!

I’m always looking for some new plant ideas to change things up a bit in my home, please share some of the hardy houseplants you love. 

–Mary