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"Possibility and promise greet me each day as I walk out into my garden. My vigor is renewed when I breathe in the earthiness and feel the dirt between my fingers. My garden is a peaceful spot to refresh my soul." Meems

Welcome to my Central Florida Garden Blog where we garden combining Florida natives, Florida-Friendly plants, and tropicals.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

5 Reasons To Make Your Own Shade

Do you have time to wait for trees to grow? No matter how old you are, I say, yes. If you like shade, go ahead and plant a tree ...  or ten! Trees grow while you're sleeping, while you're at work, while you're raising your children, while you're cleaning the house, while you're gardening. Put them in the ground and a few years down the road you'll be glad you did it!

If I had known 20 years ago when I planted four live oaks and two drake elms in my back yard how much I was going to LOVE shade-gardening I probably would have planted a forest of them.

Each oak tree started out no taller than me and hardly 1.5" in diameter. Currently the canopy from those oaks is high and shifting sunlight peeks through the limbs from every angle at all times of the day.

As the day progresses, and the sun moves from east to west, a good deal of light floods in under the edges of the canopy. The trees have grown so tall. More light around the perimeter allows for options like Brugmansia, oakleaf hydrangia (Hydrangea quercifolia), sweet almond bush (Aloysia virgata), variegated shell gingers (Alpinia zerumbet), bromeliads, irises, ferns, begonias (and many more) ... all plants that prefer part sun but not full sun or total shade.

Photos like this one remind me of a time when every square inch of the space shown here was lawn. As a matter of fact, almost the entire back garden was lawn before I planted the trees. It never fails to amaze me. To think ~~ my very own little hands have planted every single plant visible in these pictures.

Gradually. Lovingly. Passionately. Every single plant.

Shade gardening is so much easier than full sun gardening. Of course that's just my opinion.

I have my reasons for making such a claim.

Here are my top 5:
1) Tree cover helps hold the moisture in the soil which means my shade plants don't require nearly the amount of water that full sun areas do.

2) The umbrella of outstretched limbs from trees protect plants from scorching, intense sunlight; in winter that umbrella acts like a blanket to keep the more tender varieties from frost-bite. Shade keeps me cooler, too. No matter how hot and humid it is or the time of day~ I can garden in the shade.

3) Less weeds. I don't know about you but weeds in the sunny areas are a constant battle. In the shady areas the percentage of weeds is greatly reduced. Weeds are very manageable in the shade.

4) Shade is peaceful. Walk from a sunny, bright spot in the garden to a shaded area and relief is the first thing noticed. Beyond relief is the pleasant shift to a restful, tranquil environment even in the midday hours.

5) The varieties of plants to choose for a shade garden is endless. Colorful, textural Florida-Friendly plants mixed with natives and fun tropicals neighbor well together in happy masses creating an easy-care environment.

Go ahead and plant a tree if you wish you had more shade.

Did I leave out any great reasons why shade-gardening is the BEST!?

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  1. With your climate, you can get a lot of lush growth under the trees. I like your combinations of large leaves and fine leaves, as it adds a lot if interest.

    I concur about the fewer weeds in the shady areas, and the peaceful atmosphere the trees give. I would be disappointed if anything happened to my trees, since they set the whole atmosphere for the garden.

  2. So many good reasons to add shade to the garden. My favorite is that it keeps the gardener cooler, so you can garden year-round. I've added several trees in the last two years. I enjoy the shady area of our yard now.

    You are an amazingly ambitious gardener, Meems. Your hands have been very busy. We are some lucky readers...

  3. Finding your blog and reading about your shady garden is what got me started planting away in mine. I had no idea there were so many plants that love it under the canopy of oaks. You have really planted a lot of plants (and trees) and they are so artfully arranged. I've only planted one tree myself, a bottlebrush. All the oaks were already here when I moved to this house.

  4. And what a glorious shade garden you have! :0)I think I would love it too. I can't wait for my trees to grow.

  5. I live in the sub-tropics and couldn't agree more. The first thing we did when we started the garden was plant lots of trees. Now we are reaping the rewards.

  6. The only thing in our small garden when we moved here two years ago was a large lychee tree. I have slowly built up a lovely garden in its shade. This week it needs to be pruned to keep it more manageable and I am hoping my plants don't suffer too much damage.

  7. There is surely shad in heaven for southerners!

  8. “Gradually. Lovingly. Passionately. Every single plant. ”, when I am reading this, it seems like describing myself. Now three years after I started my blank canvas garden, I have run out of every space, and I planted every single plant! haha. Now come back to shade gardening, yes, tell me that! Most of my gardening space was full sun area, but now I have created some shade area with the trees and bushes, just love it! Thanks, Meems!

  9. Amen to having the forsight to plant trees early on. There is an old Chinese proverb that I've always liked... "The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The next best time is now"


Have a blessed day,

September 2010

Back Garden: October 2010

Louise Philippe: Antique Rose

Tropical Pathway