Practical Permaculture – Breaking Ground on Another Urban Garden

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“Looking on from Rebecca Avenue” – The vacant lot from the street… Sidewalk in the foreground… The trees in the rear will be heavily trimmed this spring… There is a brick alley in the rear… And my very involved landlady owns the houses on either side of the lot…

So… I am excited to announce that after an entire year of observation and preparation, I will be breaking ground on a new guerrilla garden/farm here in Wilkinsburg, PA late this winter. Located roughly one block from my current garden (The Garden Table), this lot will focus on production as opposed to aesthetics. I intend to document every project I undertake, much of it will be shared through this blog.

As is my typical fashion, I intend to complete this project using very little money. That may not seem like a big deal, but given the fact that it typically takes $25,000 in grant money to get one of these things off the ground…  I think I’m doing pretty good so far… In fact, this will be the fourth vacant lot I have converted into a beautiful urban garden with a budget of basically nothing.

The lot itself is 60’W x 140’D, with a 4′ rise over the first 15′ of the lot. It was a relatively recent demolition, wood frame and sandstone foundation. As a result, the lot has not had a chance to become too overgrown. Myself, as well as the borough employees maintained the lot over the summer through regular mowing and litter removal. Although there are some invasive weeds growing throughout, I have managed to keep them to a minimum through regular removal.

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“The Garden Table” – This is where I went when I had to move Whitney Avenue Urban Farm… Now that it has filled up… I have found myself seeking a place to overflow… My new lot will be used for all of the food I want to grow… But can’t quite fit into one small lot…

As it sits today, the grass is mowed and the lot is clear. I have been dumping leaf and wood debris all summer, remediation will be performed throughout development. The front quarter of the property will be raised using salvaged foundation stones, the fill will be locally available compost created from the leaves collected from the streets of Wilkinsburg. Bricks are a constantly available resource in my neighborhood, so I intend to work with them as much as possible. It is always tough for me to speculate what materials I will find in the immediate area, for that reason my plans typically change throughout the course of construction.

Fruit producing trees will be planted throughout, underneath each of these trees will be appropriate guilds. Vegetables will be grown in both contained rows, and interspersed among other plants. The quarter of the lot closest to the street will be mainly ornamental, the purpose of which is to make people driving by turn and take notice. The top of the slope will be a line of dogwood and redbud trees, which will also help in privatizing the rear of the garden from the road.

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“Whitney Avenue Urban Farm” – You are looking at one year of work… This farm lasted two growing seasons before I moved it… But I did… Brick by brick… Roughly two blocks away to The Garden Table…

Just to give you an idea of some of the things I will be including… Fruit trees will be (but not limited to) plum, pear, peach, apple, cherry, serviceberry and figs… The figs will be surrounded by south-facing keyhole style gardens to protect during the coldest months… Blueberries, currants, gooseberries, strawberries and raspberries will be sporadically placed… Rows will be cut and vegetables will be numerous… I’m hoping to get into bees… The gutters from the neighboring houses will be collected or diverted into the garden… The lot also has a run-off issue towards the street… I intend to fix this with a bioswale… Everything on site will be recycled and locally scavenged… All plants will be personally propagated or donations from friends…

The food grown will be made available to locals on a (as long as you don’t steal it all) basis… As always… Volunteers always get first dibs… As of right now… I am the only person signed on… Though I do have a friend who is interested in helping… Regardless… I will be planting fruit trees come the thaw…

plant petunias and question everything – chriscondello

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Practical Permaculture – Planting Under Fruit Trees – Part 2

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“Different” – Hamnett Place Community Garden – Wilkinsburg, PA – Cherry trees are a tough plant in companion planting, the sticky sap commonly seen seeping from the trunk is a magnet for pests. Flowering plants that will attract predatory wasps can often be the only organic technique available. Alliums can also be effective as a general pest repellant.

This post and plant list is an extension of a past post that can be found right here – Planting Under Fruit Trees with more information and another list of companion plants… This post is meant to accompany it…

One of the most common mistakes made when making plant selections for under a fruit tree is thinking of the planting as the center of attention when in fact it is the tree. Permaculture plant guilds created under a fruit tree, though possibly created with selfish intentions, are actually incorporated to benefit the tree.. Not you…

The plants used underneath a fruit tree can serve a multitude of functions, it is not unfair to consider yourself as a beneficiary of your plants, but as far as permaculture is concerned, it is not the responsible primary function. We create a fruit tree guild for the purposes of pest prevention, beneficial attraction, scent masking, soil remediation and general beautification, but the common goal is generally the health and fruit production of the primary tree.

The dream of having a vegetable garden under a production fruit tree is more or less a pipe dream in all but the warmest climates. That’s not to say that some vegetables can’t be grown, but it is a very safe assumption on my part to say that a tomato or pepper plant will never reach the same production level as one growing in full sun. This is just one of the reasons I suggest putting your focus on the trees needs. Tending vegetables takes valuable time (and unnecessary nutrients) away from the tree, when in fact your efforts should be focused on the tree.

Perennial plants are typically the most beneficial as far as a tree is concerned, again I want to stress that the primary focus of these types of efforts needs to be on the tree, if you are stuck planting annuals every spring it will only take time away from your primary focus. A fruit tree can live for a hundred years, a properly planted guild under the canopy can last for a good chunk of this trees life. Armed with this knowledge the question now becomes what will not only grow under a fruit tree, but benefit it for the foreseeable future…

Dwarf fruit trees require a lot more maintenance than most people realize, I think many are led to believe that there tree will stay tiny forever. Dwarf fruit trees are very confused trees and therefore can take on a mind of their own, aggressive pruning is often required to keep them producing. Many dwarf trees will be nothing more than a single stem a few feet tall when planted, the tree will grow quickly if not pruned.

Dwarf trees will stay small for a few years, it is completely acceptable to plant annuals around them. It will be several years before this tree develops a canopy, therefore the space surrounding the tree will be considered full-sun for the foreseeable future. In sustainable agriculture “alley cropping” is a method where rows of fruit or nut trees are planted, and the spaces between are used for annual crops. This is done until the trees reach production size and shade out the alley, providing short-term income while the more valuable trees mature.

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“Blue Borage” – Whitney Avenue – Wilkinsburg, PA – Growing under a Kousa Dogwood… Perfectly happy in the shade and will come back for years to come through self seeding.

– Herbaceous Plants – For my Herb specific post check out – Planting Herbs Under Fruit Trees

Lavender – A flowering plant in the mint family, many cultivars of which are extensively cultivated in temperate climates. The plant is technically a perennial, though it is a short-lived one often losing vigor as time passes by. Lavender is extremely useful around fruit trees due to its repellant qualities, many insects and animals find it repulsive and will therefore avoid it all costs. Besides benefiting the fruit tree, lavender will benefit many other types of plants and should therefore be incorporated into any garden plan.

Tansy – Is a herbaceous perennial flowering plant of the Aster family. Tansy is commonly cultivated and used for its insect repellent properties, it is used as a biological pest control in organic gardens and sustainable agriculture. In England, Tansy is placed on window sills to repel flies, sprigs are placed in bed linens to drive away pests, and it has been used as an ant repellent.

Southernwood – A flowering plant native to Europe in the genus Artemisia, named for the goddess Artemis. The growing plant tends to repel fruit tree moths when grown in an orchard, the fresh plant can also be rubbed on the skin to deter other insects. This plant is commonly dries and used in the house to repel ants and other indoor pests, when burned the scent can remove many foul odors from the house.

Horseradish – Believe it or not, Horseradish is in the Brassica family. Although this plant is typically harvested and used, when left in the ground it will spread via underground shoots and therefore can become mildly invasive in many permaculture gardens. Horseradish is a broad-leafed plant allowing it to harvest sunlight even when planted in shade, this makes it a perfect companion for trees. Horseradish is said to generally be good for the overall health of a tree, it is not uncommon for old timers to tell stories of trees that were never productive until horseradish was planted below… Though others will claim it affects the taste of the fruit afterwards…

Borage – Also known as Starflower, is an annual herb that tends to self seed allowing it to come back year after year. Although this plant is edible, the leaves often being described as cucumber-like, its primary purpose in permaculture is as a companion plant. Borage accumulates and adds trace minerals to the soil and is a key ingredient in a complete compost heap. Borage also is one of the best bee and wasp attracting plants available, therefore it will benefit everything planted around it… Given the stunning blue flowers… It will even benefit you…

Nasturtium – Tropaeolum, commonly known as Nasturtium literally means “nose twister” or “nose-tweaker”, a reference to the peppery scent and taste of the flowers. Nasturtium is used in herbal medicine for their antiseptic and expectorant qualities. When planted under apple trees it is a powerful deterrent of the notorious codling moth, not to mention a whole host of other insect species not only damaging to the tree, but to other plants surrounding.

Hyssop – A herbaceous plant of the genus Hyssopus. Due to its properties as an antiseptic, cough reliever, and expectorant, it is commonly used as an aromatic herb. Drought tolerance makes this an ideal plant for underneath the canopy of a fruit tree, flowers make it a beneficial insect attractor. Hyssop shares many of the same benefits as mint since they are from the same family, though it is not as invasive so it is typically more suited to inter planting than mint.

Wormwood – Artemesia absinthium is a herbaceous, perennial plant with a fibrous root system. A powerful animal repellant suitable for plantings at the edge of properties. Wormwood is also a powerful insect repellant, it can be made into a tea or applied as a sporadic mulch throughout the garden. Wormwood produces a powerful poison and therefore should never be used directly on food crops, applications should be indirect.

Dandelion – Are tap-rooted biennial or perennial herbaceous plants, native to temperate areas of the world. Dandelions are thought to have evolved about thirty million years ago in Eurasia, they have been used by humans as food and herb for much of recorded history. Dandelions are one of the first plants to bloom in the spring and therefore are a very important source of nectar and pollen early in the season. Its tap-root will bring up nutrients for shallower-rooting plants, and add minerals and nitrogen to the soil. Dandelions are even said to emit ethylene gas which helps fruit ripen.

– Food Producing Shrubs – Will never produce the same as when field grown, but will still produce.

Currant – The genus Ribes includes black currants, red currants, white currents, and gooseberries and several other hybrid varieties. Currants do very well in shade, though an interesting trait I have observed is if even part of the plant grows into full sunlight only the part in full sun will produce fruit… The rest of the plant seems to go into a vegetative state.

Nanking Cherry – Is a deciduous shrub native to Asia, an understory shrub that has evolved to survive under the canopy of a tree. Will produce more fruit if planted on the outskirts of the tree, can even be used as a windscreen for more tender plants. This tree-like shrub can grow to eight feet tall, vigorous pruning can be required to keep it under control.

Serviceberry – Native to temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere, growing primarily in early succession habitats. Varieties differ so care must be paid during selection for under planting a fruit tree, the short multi-stemmed varieties are typically best. I personally prefer to plant the serviceberry in close quarters with fruit trees, the serviceberry attracts birds that after finishing your tasty berries will immediately turn their attention to the insects.

Raspberry – Named varieties are in the thousands, most are thorny… All are delicious.. The thorny varieties not only repel larger animals, they tend to repel thievery as well. After all, what’s a few lost raspberries when the apples are spared from the deer. Raspberries are very vigorous and when not kept in check can become a massive, and invasive headache. They will do a great job of keeping the neighborhood children from stealing the fruits of your labor. Likewise, they can also keep you away from your trees. I recommend the raspberries be planted outside of the drip line, being able to get a lawn mower between your patch and tree is paramount in keeping the patch in bounds.

– Vegetables – Though I stress, they typically do not thrive like they would in full sun, growing these vegetables is possible

Carrots – typically grown in full sun tolerate some shade. In order to avoid deformed carrots they are typically grown in loose soil, but for our purposes the uncultivated soil under a tree will work just fine. A carrot is like a stake in the ground, as it expands it will loosen the soil. Carrots left in the ground will eventually break down, adding nutrients it has harvested to the top layer of soil.

Chard – Typically grown in full sun, it is important to remember that broad-leaved plants are equipped with enough surface area to tolerate some shade. Bright lights chard will not grow as brightly as if it were planted in full sun, but it will grow.

Kale – Another leaf crop commonly grown in full sun, most food plants that do not produce a fruit or vegetable can tolerate some shade, kale happens to be one of those plants. I actually like to grow some Brassicas under a tree as a trap crop, bugs tend to be more attracted to the weaker plants as opposed to the stronger more vigorous plants grown in full sun.

Asparagus – Opposite the fact that broad-leaved plants ability to absorb more light makes them more shade tolerant, thin leafed plants do not require as much light making them also tolerant of some shade. Asparagus is an ideal food plant for under fruit trees, the primary harvest season happens at a time when many fruit trees have yet to leaf out. Because of this asparagus is one of the few vegetables that are not affected negatively when grown under a tree.

Beets – Beets in general can handle some shade, in really hot weather they actually benefit from it. Beets in full shade will grow beautiful foliage, but the energy is rarely ever there to produce a sizeable root. Beets are nutrient accumulators and therefore there is absolutely no harm in leaving the plants in the ground to rot. The benefit of the beet is for the tree, not the gardener.

Beans – Beans are another vegetable that does not seem to be affected by some shade, in the hottest months the shade provided by a tree is actually preferred. Beans accumulate nitrogen, when the beans have been harvested the remaining plant should be left in place to decompose.

Peas – Another tasty biddle that is perfectly at home when grown in the shade of a tree, typically only grown in the cooler months, a tree can often provide a third late summer harvest. Peas are in the Legume family and therefore accumulate Nitrogen, after harvest the plant should be left in place.

plant petunias and question everything – chriscondello

This site… And all the photographs and information presented within are provided free of charge by the author… I am not affiliated with any product or business… Only myself… Writing this blog takes a ton of time… If you find any of this information helpful, please consider purchasing a print from my online store… It is obviously not a requirement… But it helps…

I sell prints of my photography here – http://www.society6.com/chriscondello Or you can contact me directly at c.condello@hotmail.com for commissions or locally/personally produced prints… Thank you for reading…

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The Guerrilla Gardening Guidebook – Plant Selection

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“Heucherella” – I am including this photograph to illustrate a point… This was an empty pot when I got it… Tagless and destined for the dumpster… An inspection of the roots revealed life and a crown was clearly evident after some minor digging… I took a chance on it and several others…

Plant Selection

This post is part of a larger body of work titled ”The Guerrilla Gardening Guidebook”. For the introduction and table of contents please click here

A tough subject to write about for the guerrilla gardener, often the deciding factors end up being cost and availability. Given the high likelihood that the garden will be destroyed faster than it was created, I recommend starting with the cheapest plants available. A garden that survives through the first or second year can then be considered for nicer plants, but only after passing the test of time. Trust me when I say that if someone really wants to mess with your garden, there is very little you can do other than use plants that can survive regular abuse.

Stick to the tried and true plants, do not choose the newest cultivars or craziest colors. Plants that are considered tough in their original “un bred” state, can become extremely finicky when you get into the special cultivars. An example of this is Echinacea, look through any catalog and you will find dozens of colors and bloom styles. Although the Native Echinacea purpurea is a “bomb proof” plant perfectly suited to the harshest conditions you can throw at it, almost all of the new cultivars are extremely finicky and have little resistance to all but the most controlled garden environments. These finicky cultivars should be avoided until you have a good idea of the space you are gardening, if some “old school” flowers survive and flourish in the location, then, and only then should you consider adding some flair.

Plant acquisition is a surprisingly straight forward task, step one is taking all of the plant magazines you receive in the mail and throw them straight in the garbage. Plant porn has no place here! Step two is being patient, greenhouses and box stores order much more stock than they could ever possibly get rid of. Given the recent surge in dumpster diving hipster trendiness, dumpsters are being padlocked or waste stored indoors until right before pick-up. My suggestion to you is to find a manager and ask if he would be willing to sell you any plants destined for the dumpster at a discounted rate. More often than not they will be happy to do this, and will typically let things go for pennies on the dollar. This method is typically most effective in the off-season, in the peak sales season discounts are much less due to demand.

SingleRed

“Single Red” – Whitney Avenue – Wilkinsburg, PA – With bulb planting season mistakenly thought of as being only the month of October… Discounts can be found anywhere that stocks them…

Guerrilla gardening often forces a gardener to perpetually study plants, in doing so we often learn tricks pertaining to specific plants and planting methods. Fruit trees for example can be bought for next to nothing anytime other than early spring, I am always asked if it is possible to plant a fruit tree in the middle of Summer… Of course you can… If the choice comes down to leaving a tree in a pot until spring or just planting it as soon as possible… The answer will always be plant it…

For my permaculture based article on rehabilitating discount plants click here

Seeds are another method of getting plants, about mid-summer the prices drop to next to nothing. Not many people realize it, but seed packets have expiration dates on them. A secret about that date is it is really only there to force the stores to buy new seeds each year, think of it as a sell by date. Although seeds lose viability with age, many are perfectly viable long after the expiration date.

The last source of plants I am going to quickly talk about is friends sharing. Gardeners are typically proud of what they have, many of us love our plants so much we won’t throw out our divisions. Those divisions often only cost the time it takes to tour a garden, an early lesson you will learn is people like to share plants. Trading can also be effective, always have a few divisions potted up just in case opportunity comes calling… A plant given away today often returns ten fold in the future…

The next few chapters will each deal with different types of plants and their uses in the guerrilla garden…

plant petunias and question everything – chriscondello

This site… And all the photographs and information presented within are provided free of charge by the author… I am not affiliated with any product or business… Only myself… Writing this blog takes a ton of time… If you find any of this information helpful, please consider purchasing a print from my online store… It is obviously not a requirement… But it helps…

I sell prints of my photography here – http://www.society6.com/chriscondello Or you can contact me directly at c.condello@hotmail.com for commissions or locally/personally produced prints… Thank you for reading…

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The Glimmer Between – We All Must Crawl

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“Mandevilla” – Whitney Avenue – Wilkinsburg, PA

After winters endless slumber…
Spring awakens into summer…
Summer slowly fades to fall…
Before we walk we all must crawl…

Autumns visual palette of spice…
Product of a natural device…
Colors through an open window…
Clouds float by like fluffy pillows…

Autumn evenings distant scent…
Summer finally relents…
Sun rays shine an orange-red…
Seed pods start to split and spread…

The trees no longer glimmer green…
Hives gear up to feed their queen…
The leaves begin their steady fall…
Before we walk we all must crawl…

We all must fall…

plant petunias and question everything – chriscondello

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Earth Angel

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“Earth Angel” – © chriscondello 2013 – Whitney Avenue – Wilkinsburg, PA – Not the perfect photo… I know… But no angel of mine is perfect… Nothing I praise is flawless…

Written with a found pen on a Hosta leaf while at work this morning… Just me and a morning dove…

We are all magnificent earth angels…
Gifts from the heavens above…
Flower blossoms open in the sunrise…
A sleepy morning dove cries…

The sun angel pokes through the trees…
Blesses me in light and warmth…
Just the morning doves and me…
Sweating in the humidity…

Earth angel please bless us all…
Bless our every single step…
The sun and the moon will play along…
The morning doves will join our song…

Sing to the heavens above…
Sing to the ground beneath your feet…
Praise the elements that make your heart…
Live… Love and beat…

plant petunias and question everything – chriscondello

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Eco Soldier – Resource Wars

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“Resources” – © chriscondello 2013 – Abandoned House – Wilkinsburg, PA – What is a resource?.. It depends on your surroundings… You know… I have heard there are more abandoned houses than homeless people… If in fact that it true… The system is truly failing us…

How many trees will be cut to the ground?..
How much oil will be drilled from the earth?..
How much gas?.. How much coal?..
Another mine and we’ll be living in a hole…

Future skyscrapers… Gas tower skyline…
As dangerous as a nuclear land mine…
Sitting smack dab in the middle of a park…
And here we come walking in the dark…

Nuclear exposure… Tolerance builds…
Induced allergens… Medical bills…
Who the fuck is going to fight this war?..
Take this system and rattle it to its core…

We are all now ecological soldiers…
Gearing up to fight the resource wars…
Enemy combatants will come from far…
Just to fight over our sand and tar…

Domination is not a resolution…
Governments operate similar to prostitution…
Control healthcare… Control life and death…
Control the controllers every breath…

We are nothing more than a tax base…
Governments farm the human race…
Then they harvest our ripe green money…
Obama says it tastes slightly like honey…

Or a fine wine… Bought on our dime…
At an event that was attended by slime…
While they eat organic free range beef…
While you and I get fed Monsanto wheat…

GMO corn is like political porn…
Subsidies are just a way to weather the storm…
Farm stamp… I mean… Food stamp bill…
About the same as telling everyone to chill…

We got this… We got your back…
Would you rather we bring back a problem like crack…
War on drugs… Politicians are thugs…
Sweep the sweepers right under the rug…

Weather the storm… Storm the weather…
Either way we need to stand together…
We will never outgun the government machine…
Hold them accountable… Make them clean…

Stand up for what you believe in…
Whether God… Science… Or sin…
Stand up… Woman and men…
Time to fight… Words… Fists… Or pen…

plant petunias and question everything – chriscondello

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Practical Permaculture – Gardening In The Shade

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Bleeding Hearts, formerly known as “Dicentra spectabilis”. But based on our recent ability to see plants on a molecular level, the name has been changed to “Lamprocapnos spectabilis”.

Let me start this off by saying I love shade gardens, and I love my ornamental plants. I believe that it is important for me to note that although permaculture is primarily focused on food production, a true permaculturist understands the importance of promoting all forms of gardening regardless of yield. As far as permaculture promotion is concerned, the last thing on earth we want to do is exclude all of the flower gardeners from the mix… They play an important role in pollinator promotion and I think as permaculturists we should promote ornamental gardeners as well…

All too often shady spaces are cursed by gardeners, it can seem like anything you try to grow fails. Grass fails to grow properly, and the common plants found at the big box stores grow poorly and discourage interest. This unfortunate, but common situation could have been avoided had proper shade loving plants been chosen. Many plants have evolved over time to prosper in low light by developing delicate, thin leaves that efficiently absorb whatever sun falls on them.

When filled with cool flowers and foliage spread out below an interesting tree canopy, a shade garden can be the most beautiful spot in your yard. It is important to remember when learning to garden in the shade, not all shade is created equal. Figure out exactly which type of shade you’re dealing with, because the type of shade will ultimately affect the variety of plants you can grow.

toadlily

“Tricyrtis formosana” or Toad Lilies prefer shade or part shade and grow naturally at the edge of forests.

Deep shade is all day shade where no direct sunlight hits the ground; this often occurs under heavily foliated trees. Deep shade may be dry or moist depending on whether the trees are surface-rooted or deep-rooted. Fewer plants thrive in this type of shade, especially if dry, than in brighter conditions.

Part shade means shade for part of the day with direct sunlight during the other part. Many sun-loving plants bloom well in part shade because they receive from four to six hours of direct sun each day, though they may not perform as well as in all day sun. Morning shade followed by afternoon sun may be too hot for many shade plants, causing them to wilt in the heat. But the cooler morning sun with afternoon shade is good for many shade loving plants.

Light shade occurs under an open branched tree canopy where spots of sunshine filter to the ground in a constantly shifting play of shadows, a wide selection of plants prosper in filtered shade.

Open shade occurs on the north side of a building where no direct sunlight falls, but where light may be reflected to the ground from surrounding walls. Open shade often remains damp, unless the building creates a rain shadow and blocks rainfall from reaching the ground. This is a very common urban garden problem, usually requires one to get creative.

"Arisaema triphyllum" - Jack-in-the-pulpit

“Arisaema triphyllum” – Jack-in-the-pulpit

Many shaded locations are cool and damp, but some are actually dry. Upon close examination you may discover that certain shady spots in your yard have poor, dry soil because your trees have surface roots that suck up all the available surface moisture and nutrients. A thick canopy of tree leaves may worsen the problem, acting like an umbrella and deflecting rain from the ground beneath. Lack of moisture, not lack of light, often proves to be the culprit when shade loving plants fail to grow in their prefered habitat.

Dry, root-clogged soil feels and looks hard and compacted; when you try to dig a hole with a shovel, it can’t easily penetrate the ground. If you discover that the soil in your potential shade garden is hard and compacted, try digging in lots of organic matter, like rotted manure or compost, as long as you don’t mess with the major tree roots the tree will not suffer.

Where digging will tamper with tree roots, spread a layer of topsoil no more than 4 inches deep over the ground. Cover this layer with a 2 inch mulch of chopped-up leaves, which will decompose into a rich humus. Anything deeper than this could smother the roots. Earthworms will eventually move into the decomposing leaves, further speeding the decomposition, and also burrow into the harder subsoil beneath the topsoil, making it easier to garden. Where shallow-rooted trees pose a problem, you will be waging a continuous battle and will need to replenish your mulch every once in a while.

When gardening in dry shade under a tree, water regularly and deeply during the summer months. Where you might normally apply an inch of water a week to satisfy your garden needs,  you may need to apply 2 or even 3 inches of water to compensate for the water absorbed by the tree. Many plants will adapt to the dry shade after a year of stabilization, if you can water regularly for a year you can usually garden under a tree.

Shade loving plants do not usually bloom as abundantly as sun lovers, perhaps as an energy-conserving measure, but you can enjoy a variety of flowers in the shade by choosing the right kinds. however, your shade garden will rely upon an assortment of beautiful foliage plants for much of its allure. You can brighten up the shadows of your garden using a few simple tricks.

"Trillium erectum var. album" - The white flowered form of Red Trillium...

“Trillium erectum var. album” – The white-flowered form of Red Trillium…

– Grow lots of plants with white-variegated leaves or white or pastel flowers, brighter colors tend to glow in the shade.

– Dark red and purple flowers tend to recede into the dimness, they should be used sparingly.

– Brighten open shade along buildings by painting walls in bright reflective colors.

– Use golden-leaved plants and those with yellow flowers to create the impression of a beam of sunshine scattered across the garden floor.

– Contrast plants with finely divided, fern-like leaves with those featuring big, tropical-looking leaves to add excitement and drama.

I am a man who really enjoys ornamental flowers and understands the importance of a diverse eco-system. As a master gardener, I know many people who have beautiful and beneficial ornamental only gardens, but have no interest whatsoever in growing food; to exclude them from the mix would be a kick in the nuts to the principles of permaculture. To expect the world to conform to us will ultimately lead to the failure of the movement… Ornamental plants need loving too!..

peace – chriscondello

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