As if the garden was aware of the colors that flatter it most, it chose white for its shade blooms, a color that creates drama when set against the darkness of its shadows.

Many gardeners, weary of more unsuccessful attempts that they can palate, usually resign themselves to a shade garden without blooms, happy to see at least something alive cover that patch of dried up dirt they couldn’t prevail over.

This unnecessary sacrifice is usually due to the fact that not all shade is created equal and quite a few plants advertised for shade are only borderline so. If you ever tried foxgloves in your part shade garden, you’ll know what I’m talking about. And then you blame yourself, the soil, the flower bed’s orientation on the compass rose, the fertilizer, the water hardness, anything but the truth. The truth is there are very few flowers that bloom in full shade, and you can almost pick them out at the plant nursery by the fact that they are rarely featured and don’t come cheap.

Trust me when I say that investing in one specimen that is sure to perform is definitely worth it, considering that the popular options usually don’t work.

Here is a list of plants that will always perform well in full shade, dry shade, and any other shade you happen to have, all dressed in white (for the most part):
-hellebores. The good thing about these plants, beside the fact that they will survive anywhere, is that they bloom at the end of January. This is not a misprint. At that point the trees have no leaves, so the lack of direct sunlight will not be an issue. They are also prolific seeders and grow fast, so one plant can populate an entire flower bed over a couple of years.
-foam flowers. They do bloom in full shade, but grow slowly, so getting a larger plant makes a significant difference. They are draught tolerant and will be just fine in dry shade.
-the long suffering hostas. In truth, you need a little bit of dappled sunshine to get those majestic beauties to dazzle you with bloom, but when they do they are splendid, fragrant and long lasting.
-pachisandra. I swear there are no gardening conditions that can discourage this plant. The bloom is brief and underwhelming, but the plants are evergreen. Mine grows against a north foundation wall, in an area that I have great trouble watering, under a very large boxwood. Enough said.
-lily of the valley. It seems easy, but it’s not, it is very particular about its growing conditions, at least in the beginning. I had to start this plant five times, but when it finally took, it was worth the effort.

Of course, being the consummate gardener I also ventured to beautify the shade with graceful bugbane, rare and sensitive Jack-in-the-pulpit and monk’s hood. The garden laughed at me. I’m still peeved.

Author's Bio: 

Main Areas: Garden Writing; Sustainable Gardening; Homegrown Harvest
Published Books: “Terra Two”; “Generations”; "Letters to Lelia", "Door No. 8", "Fair"; "A Year and A Day"; "The Plant - A Steampunk Story"
Career Focus: Author; Consummate Gardener;
Affiliation: All Year Garden; The Weekly Gardener; Francis Rosenfeld's Blog

I started blogging in 2010, to share the joy of growing all things green and the beauty of the garden through the seasons. Two garden blogs were born this way: and, a periodical that followed it one year later. I wanted to assemble an informal compendium of the things I learned from my grandfather, wonderful books, educational websites, and my own experience, in the hope that other people might find it useful in their own gardening practice.