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Tracy’s Shade Garden

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climbing hydrangea covering a covered patio

Today we’re visiting with Tracy Tallman in Southern Ontario.

We live on a very shaded country lot. This limits our plant choices considerably. Our repeat favorites include Hosta (Zones 3–9), hellebores (Helleborus hybrids, Zones 5–8), Heuchera (Zones 5–9), bleeding hearts (Dicentra sp.), Japanese ferns (Athyrium niponicum, Zones 3–8), grasses, and ground covers. Natural moss is growing in between the path stones. It’s a wonderfully calming oasis.

close up of hostas and bleeding heart in front of a fenceThe tried-and-true shade lovers that Tracy gardens with make a wonderful lush garden. The backdrop is a hemlock tree (Tsuga canadensis, Zones 3–7). In front, a bleeding heart (Dicentra spectabilis, Zones 2–8) and hostas bringing foliage in a variety of colors, shapes, and textures.

foliage plants climbing up a chainlink fenceEvery corner of a garden offers a chance to add some beautiful plants. Native Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia, Zones 3–9) softens the chain-link fence with climbing greenery.

close up of hostas in front of fenceHostas in every shade of green, from massive to tiny, line the fence.

evergreen plants in the gardenThough the hellebores have long since finished flowering, their pest-resistant, evergreen foliage still contributes to the garden.

climbing hydrangea covering a covered patioClimbing hydrangea (Hydrangea anomala subsp. petiolaris, Zones 4–8) covers this structure with lush green foliage and delicate sprays of white flowers. This vine can be slow-growing at first, but once it gets established it becomes a huge, beautiful part of the garden. It looks like the four-legged garden residents enjoy it as well.


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View Comments


  1. janetsydoruk 06/12/2023

    It looks lovely. I too am a hosta fan. Can’t beat them.

  2. jeremywalsh 06/12/2023

    Great garden. I live in Sarnia, it's great to see the Canadian gardens represented here. I am on the board for the Ontario Hosta Society; we'd love to have you as a member, if you are not already. :)

  3. btucker9675 06/12/2023

    Bleeding hearts! Had so many in my northern NJ garden, but haven't had luck finding the right spot for them here in the NC clay and heat. I won't give up though! : ). Your garden is so serene with all the shades of greens and shapes and textures. Lovely!

  4. User avater
    simplesue 06/12/2023

    I love your shade garden! So lush & green and welcoming!

  5. alicefleurkens 06/12/2023

    Tracey, that is a lovely garden. So peaceful. that is a beautiful hosta with the frilly leaves. Alice

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