Shady Island Bed

Artist's Garden Designs, Design Tips, Garden Design Vignettes, Vignettes

Shady Garden Design by Kelly Schroeder.


Presenting the first in a series of garden designs …

We are very pleased to present a garden a week over the next few weeks which we hope will help gardeners discover design solutions for various of their garden types and situations.  Enjoy!

A tree plunked in the lawn is a pain to mow around and wastes an opportunity for creating a lovely small garden.  As the tree will likely shade the ground surrounding it for at least part of the day, it is best to use plants that enjoy a mixture of sun and shade.

It is important to remember that an island bed will be viewed from all sides so taller plants should be placed adjacent to the tree and layer the other plants by height as you work toward the outer edge of the garden bed.  If you want to try something a little different than a standard circular bed, create a kidney shape.  The same principle of plant heights applies.   Keep a pleasing consistency by repeating the same plants around the garden but keep it interesting by varying the number of plants per variety.  For example if you use a group of three Heuchera in the first spot, use just one the next time.

In this vignette we have chosen a collection of plants that thrive in part sun/part shade.  By selecting plants that have interesting foliage colour and texture, the garden will be appealing even when there aren’t many flowers.  Silver foliage always brightens a shady spot by reflecting rays of light that filter through the leaves, while gold foliage creates a glow of colour.


  1. Anemone ‘Party Dress’                                                         
  2. Polemonium ‘Bressingham Purple’                                 
  3. Hosta ‘June’                                                                               
  4. Athyrium niponicum var. pictum                                     
  5. Heucherella ‘Alabama Sunrise’                                         
  6. Brunnera ‘Jack Frost’                                                            
  1. Thalictrum aquilegiifolium
  2. Clematis integrifolia
  3. Hosta ‘Little Sunspot’
  4. Heuchera ‘Silver Scrolls’
  5. Lamium ‘Lemon Frost’
  6. Pulmonaria Opal