Garden Photo of the Day

Learning to Embrace Shade in the Garden

Fine Gardening – Issue 202
a garden that embraces shade
Long-lasting interest in the shade is tricky. In this garden, a mix of sturdy shrubs—evergreens or flowering deciduous gems—mingle with more-familiar shade-loving perennials such as hostas and ferns. The result is a low-light space that’s engaging year-round.

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

Zones: 8

Conditions: Mostly full shade; clay soil

Age of the garden: 40 years


reader in her shade garden

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.”

garden full of ferns view from above garden bed full of great foliage plants

Kaitlyn Hayes is a digital content production specialist for Fine Gardening.

Photos: courtesy of Linda Skyler

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View Comments


  1. mrrey214 10/13/2021

    Thank you for this wonderful tips and ideas. keep on sharing.

    1. Meelianthus 10/17/2021

      You're very welcome.

  2. MarkMoore127 03/26/2022

    In spite of the fact that it was a test from the start, she has developed to adore conceal cultivating and the different plants that flourish in low light,more info on rushessays in the her rewards for all the hard work, however the enthusiasm of this landscaper hasn't arrived at its breaking point, she actually has a lot of testing left to do.

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