Planting a front planter and shade garden

Asked April 13, 2013, 11:33 PM EDT

I have two areas in the house I'm buying that I'd like to plant a garden in. The house we're buying is on the edge between Medford and Central Point. One area is a planter in the front of the house between the porch, house side and a walkway. The area is in morning sun and then shaded for the afternoon/evening. It's about 3' by 10'. I'm looking for plant options that are indigenous to the area or well adapted so they don't require a huge amount of work. Also, if they stayed under about 4 foot high that would be best. Maybe something with some color? The other area is under a pine tree and so if shaded for most of the day. Will anything local or easy to grow work under there? The area is about 12' in diameter. Any suggestions for plants to look into would be fantastic. Thanks!

Jackson County Oregon

1 Response

First of all, we commend you for planning a garden versus just buying a bunch of plants you like and then not knowing what to do with them. Second, the Jackson County Master Gardeners have recently published a Garden Guide to Ornamental Trees and Shrubs for the Rogue Valley. It is available at some garden shops and nurseries as well as at the Extension Offices, 569 Hanley Road, Central Point. Telephone 541-776-7371 if you need directions. This spiral bound, 248 page manual will guide you through plant selection, design, and care for your new plants. There are a number of plant lists, including native plants, plants for small spaces, and plants for wildlife. Several ideas came to mind when thinking about your situations: native plants are, unfortunately, not care free. Many are drought adapted, which may mean they are deciduous, leaf out late, have few to small flowers, and may be somewhat erratic in growth. In the wild, weather and wildlife take care of pruning and insect control--in urban gardens, those are chores for the gardener! If your side garden is truly sun free on late summer afternoons (if the house is new to you, you need to pay attention to year-round sun and shade patterns before planting anything that can't tolerate our western afternoon sun), the narrow space sounds good for rhododendron or azaleas. Remember also to keep enough space between the house and the plantings to accommodate later painting chores and also to be able to look out a window and see the plants. Nothing grows particularly well under pines--most conifers are somewhat shallow rooted and have definite preferences for the watering schedule (pines like to be dry in summer; other conifers may need supplemental summer water.) Epimedium (there are many varieties) is a low growing ground cover that might work for you. Other possibilities include Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (kinnikinnick or bear-berry). It is a western native manzanita and grows about 12 inches high. The Sunset Western Garden Book can supply the details on these and other shade lovers. Good luck with your new gardens!