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Plants for shady gardeners: There’s a ‘Yewtopia’ of options

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Garden Writer Radell Smith shares a review of the Southern Living Plant Collection’s ‘Yewtopia’ Plum Yew and Purple Pixie® Loropetalum…

As Georgians sought cool sanctuaries from June 28 temperatures in the high 80s, the Journal Pioneer.com was reporting on the same day that gardeners should create shady gardens in order to beat the heat. And they offered up a list of plants and tips for those who wanted to grow such a woodland garden: ground covers, low-growing perennials and certain evergreens.

Some of the plants mentioned were also likely to spread more than the gardener might want, however, like Sweet Woodruff and Deadnettle. But it is possible to add woodland plants without the fear of them spreading too much, like Southern Living Plant Collection‘s Purple Pixie Weeping Loropetalum.

This partial-shade, purple-colored plant can be relegated for use in containers or used as a ground cover. Its dwarf habit–only growing 1- to 2-feet tall overall, makes it a natural for a container plant poised on a garden stand or step. And it can be placed in a hanging pot as well, like the one in the slideshow above. But it may need to be moved or divided once it outgrows that space.

If you want to use it in a flower bed, it has a 4- to 5-foot-wide spread limit, so gardeners don’t have to worry about it taking over their flower bed. And while it adds a tinge of purple to the landscape all year long in USDA Zones 7-10, in the spring the plant puts out vivid pink blooms as well, giving a double bang for the buck.

The Courier-Journal also reported on June 28 that Creasey Mahan Nature Preserve’s Woodland Garden was recently completed after three years worth of work. But that work required eradicating invasive species that had taken over the 2-acre garden area first, which serves as a lesson to other woodland gardeners: only plant noninvasive plants from the get-go.

That’s a tip Buckhead’s Mary Palmer Dargan would give too, and as one of the most prominent southern landscape architects–recognized for her expertise in woodland garden designs–it’s a tip worth paying attention to. You can get more tips about shady gardens and more from the design expert by following her on Twitter.

For those living in USDA Zones 6-9 who are looking for an evergreen plant that embraces partial shade, and which will not be invasive for their woodland garden, there is the Yewtopia Plum Yew by SLPC.

The nice thing about this plant is that it is not only heat and drought tolerant; it is also deer-resistant and water-wise. And that’s what Mary Palmer Dargan would say is the perfect plant for one of her utopia home gardens.

Growing at 3- to 4-feet tall and wide, the Yewtopia Plum Yew makes an excellent border plant to place behind the Purple Pixie Weeping Loropetalum. Both can take part shade and part sun. And both are almost maintenance-free, with limitations in their spread, so gardeners don’t have to waste their time keeping them trimmed back. They can enjoy their gardens instead.

Yet no matter what plant the shade gardener chooses to add to their collection this year, one consideration that must be addressed first, according to the Journal Pioneer, is soil preparation.

Don’t spread the usual soil mix for a woodland garden, they say. Instead, seek out a “compost-rich” mix, and make sure it is weed-free. And SLPC would add that the soil should drain well, too. For more on some of the plants mentioned in this article, check out this video.

To view the full article and images on Examiner.com, click here.