gardening shade

Transform an area into a tropical oasis

woodland shade garden

There’s an area next to the RV where I started to create a shade garden. I put in my cheap plastic greenhouse so that I could propagate plants and keep frost tender varieties warm during the winter. I scrounged around the property and gathered ti plants, bromeliads, gingers, purple queen, and some baby coonties. I purchased some more gingers, a few azaleas, and three oakleaf hydrangeas. Then I got some caaldiums, chartreuse sweet potato vine, coleus, and sanchezia. The entire garden had a red, green and chartreuse color scheme.

shade garden with coleus, gingers, and nerve plant
shade garden with coleus, gingers, and nerve plant

Just behind this garden, my stepfather and I had done really heavy pruning on the property line since the neighbor’s oak tree died and tried to fall down in my yard. I say “tried” because it was so tangled in vines that it could only fall so far. Regardless, it was a mess and overgrown with grapevines and beautyberries and smilax. We discovered three large podocarpus that I had planted twenty years prior. I felt I lifted a giant load off their shoulders and now they were free to bask in the warmth of the sun (for a least a few hours of the day).

podocarpus to screen property line
podocarpus to screen property line with tons of beautyberry. this is after the clean-up of the tangled mess of vines and the dead tree were removed.

I purchased two more podocarpus (unfortunately, one has since died) since they are evergreen and I wanted to screen the area from the neighbors for privacy. This is where I also planted two sweet viburnums and at least three of the cuttings of my gorgeous formosa azaleas. Podocarpus is very easy to propagate, so I have more babies planted and future ones that will be planted soon.

Once it warmed up, I also planted a bunch of the hawaiian ti plants I had to overwinter in the greenhouse, a couple of night blooming jessamine for a tropical scent, and some lantana I found around the property.

Well, not only did the garden hop over to the podocarpus side, it also hopped over to the side opposite of the gingers and coleus.

coleus, elephant ears, hosta and more
coleus, elephant ears, hosta, it plants, aloe, bromeliads and more

Since I could easily propagate many of the plants I had, I added them “across the aisle” of the original garden. Without a doubt, this will look more tropical once those giant elephant ears reach 6 feet tall! I also need to add some taller gingers and a cycad or palm. Those are in the plans!

Well, this garden is the border to the wooded area, so you can walk completely around the woods in a circle and finish up the driveway. As luck would have it, I am planting there too!

The one area that still lacks is actually in the middle of the wooded patch. And, there’s a good reason for that. I planted 12 alpinia ginger tubers but I only see one coming up.

The others either don’t like the conditions or got pulled up by armadillos. I did put an ocala anise, a lday palm, an oakleaf hydrangea, another alpinia that I purchased as a small plant, a cassia tree, and a fatsia… all are pretty small at the moment and so must grow some more to have real impact.

shade garden with begonias, spider plants, hanging baskets, and more
shade garden with begonias, spider plants, hanging baskets, bromeliads, cast iron plant, a bird’s nest anthurium, hen and chicks, heuchera, and sweet potato vine. In the background are azalea on the left and an oakleaf hydrangea as well as a cat palm on the right.

Here is the before photo (earlier this year).

shade area before although many of the thicket’s tangled vines were cut down.

And now, here’s the current photo of the redesign.

subtropical shade garden redesign
subtropical shade garden after redesign

In the next few weeks, I plan to add crotons and palm trees and potentially more extra large gingers. I’m also hoping the elephant ears grow to 6 feet! That reminds me, I have to give them their elephant ear nitro boost fertilizer. 😉

gingers, coleus, nerve plant in shade
gingers, coleus, nerve plant in shade
now with a new birdhouse installed
now with a new birdhouse installed

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