Have you ever just wanted a nice, cozy, cool garden? Planting a garden in a nice shady place is the good fortune of anyone who has a large shade tree in their yard or garden area. A park bench is added as a resting place along side beautiful shade plants. Lay a path of brick pavers in front of the bench to make sure you have a nice dry area when the weather is damp. The tree's high, wide canopy affords an ideal setting for a planting of shrubs and perennials. This combination will give you a woodland garden that will warrant a visit any day of the year.
The planting roughly coincides with the pool of shade cast by the tree. Most trees will not compete with understory plants but you might have some problems if you have maples. On the back and left side of the tree, you should try plantings some yews. They will serve as a back drop for the park bench. The tree is in the center position. Toward the right side of the tree we will plant a white azalea. This will lend additional height in a nice selection of woodland ground covers.
The planting group has something to offer in every season. In summer, foliage in a range of greens predominates, accented by white astilbe flowers and elegant lilies, whose sweet scent adds to the appeal of a visit to the bench. Place your bench picnic table close to the proximity of your shaded area so that it will expand your entertainment area. If you have the time you could allow your path to curve around and pass by these other areas you might have.
Foliage carries the planting through fall, when white Japanese anemone flowers that we planted join the maroon leaves of bishop's hat and the red and yellow oak leaves in a colorful display. In winter, snow covers the dormant perennial ground covers and sets off the rich foliage of the yews.
Tips: For best results, thin the tree canopy, if necessary to produce dappled rather than deep shade. Also remove limbs to a height of 8 ft. or more to provide headroom. Be sure to give extra water to the plantings under the tree as the tree may take in most of the moisture leaving the plants with less water than they need. Add mulch around the plants to help hold in the moisture.