When you have lived at a property for nearly 50 years, you are bound to see your landscape go through some changes. Linda Skyler is no stranger to this reality, as she has dealt with giant Douglas fir trees (Pseudotsuga menziesii, Zones 4–6) growing into maturity and covering most of her once-sunny Pacific Northwest garden with shade. Although it was a challenge at first, she has grown to love shade gardening and the various plants that thrive in low light.
At a glance
Size: 1/3 acre
Location: Bainbridge Island, Washington
Conditions: Mostly full shade; clay soil
Age of the garden: 40 years
Like many avid shade gardeners, Linda first fell in love with the countless shapes and colors of ferns and hostas (Hosta spp. and cvs., Zones 3–8), and she collected many different varieties over the years. She also has a great affinity for shrubs, naming rhododendrons (Rhododendron spp. and cvs., Zones 4–9), pieris (Pieris spp. and cvs., Zones 5–8), and hydrangeas (Hydrangea spp. and cvs., Zones 3–9) as essential for adding texture, color, and height. By mixing an array of plants with lush, unique foliage, Linda is able to achieve garden interest throughout the whole year. But don’t expect Linda to point out her favorite plants if you ever get to visit her in Washington. “All of my plants are favorites,” she says. “They all have a special place in the right conditions.”
After so many years of toiling, you might think that Linda just wants to sit back and enjoy the fruits of her labor, but the passion of this gardener hasn’t reached its limit, and she still has plenty of experimenting left to do. Linda gets ideas for future projects by visiting other gardens and learning about new plants that might be good options for her space. She especially loves sharing gardening stories and knowledge with other plant lovers. “I’ve learned a lot along the way down the proverbial garden path,” she says. “You can try anything in your garden. It’s all trial and error—and patience.”
Kaitlyn Hayes is a digital content production specialist for Fine Gardening.
Photos: courtesy of Linda Skyler
Check out these other awesome reader-submitted gardens:
- A Garden That Shines in Spring
- An English Country Garden in Summer
- Dynamic Garden Design Despite Challenging Conditions
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