A couple of weeks ago, after a hot day’s weeding session at Carol Wheeler Park, in West Groton, one of our work crew invited the rest of us to enjoy a cold drink and snacks in her yard. I had never seen Effie’s garden before, but had heard it praised by other members of our club, so I was glad to join the group. The cold water, raspberries and watermelon were welcome after our hard work, but I was especially glad to see this garden in person.
Most of this yard is in shade, and the gardener has made clever use of her existing light, the plants that came with the house, plants she has added, and decorative accents to create a beautiful and relaxing garden.
At the back of her garden, in a spot that receives more sun that some places in the garden, is a large concrete structure covered with moss and succulents. I was surprised to learn that this is the cover to a septic system. This is a clever way to make an eyesore into something lovely!
In key spots throughout the garden, decorative objects lightened dark areas and provided contrast with the mostly green plants. In one bed with hosta, geranium and other shade lovers under a lilac, the effect of light was enhanced by the placement of a glass globe. This globe captured the existing light and reflected it onto the plants.
In another spot a birdbath is placed in just the right place to add depth to this garden bed. Another glass ornament, this one in red, adds a splash of color in the foreground and also catches a little light. Another bed nearby (not pictured) has the remains of a ‘Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick’ (Corylus avellana ‘Contorta’.) This dead and leafless tree is still intact, and adds a sense of structure to this garden.
Visiting a shade garden was a welcome respite after working in the morning’s heat. It was also a reminder that I would be wise to make creative use of the shady spots in my own garden.