Gardens - Shade Gardens

A European-style courtyard in the city

Liz Primeau
Photography by
Laura Arsie

A gardener with a painterly eye transforms a shady urban garden

european-style-inset3.jpgArtistically Speaking
  • Vary and balance horizontal and 
vertical shapes.
  • Unify structures with colour and design.
  • Create a backdrop, such as a fence, 
a green hedge or a planting of several shrubs of one variety.
  • Add points of colour or height.
  • Keep plants, especially shrubs, well trimmed to maintain shape and style.
  • Observe your garden over the 
seasons and move plants to maintain a 
pleasing composition.

tips for deep shade

  • Don’t overlook plants that prefer sun—or those that are typically invasive; while they may not perform as they would under ideal conditions, they can have an interesting effect. Gooseneck loosestrife, a bully in a sunny garden, grows shorter and behaves itself beautifully in shade. “I hate to admit it, but I also have some goutweed [Aegopodium podagraria] growing under the eaves of the garage.”
  • Choose pale colours that glow in shady conditions: pale mauves and pinks, whites and creams, with deep maroon-to-black flowers for drama.
  • Buy good-quality plants—the biggest, best-grown transplants you can afford.

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