Sunday, March 13, 2016

New Shade Additions: Scotch Moss, Rhododendron, and Pieris

It's technically winter, but I was an early bird at Lowe's this weekend snatching up some early arrival plants with sort of an impromptu purchase. I was picking up bags of mulch and dirt to raise the wet side shade bed, and I saw some shade plants I wanted to add. Usually I research the plants I get and put them on my wish list, but this time I just read the tag and went with it. I've been looking for plants that add more year-round form to the bed so it doesn't completely die back to bare ground in winter. I've also been looking for something to hide the air conditioner view from the street (before I just had hostas in front of it).

So without further ado, I present my new wet shade side additions:

Emerald Green Arborvitae - Thuja occidentalis 'Emerald Green' - Okay this one isn't that special, it didn't make the blog post headline, but it was a new purchase. Only $20, about the same size as the one in my backyard. I'm giving it plenty of room to grow in to its new location blocking the AC unit, and raised up a few inches out of the soggy clay soil. I added manure and topsoil to backfill the hole a few inches to plant it high. I'm hoping it gets enough sun to stay alive and slowly grow into a nice 12 foot tall tree - these guys usually prefer full sun. There's plenty of ambient light and 2 hours of direct sun a day here, so not exactly the deep shade.

Thuja occidentalis 'Emerald Green'Thuja occidentalis 'Emerald Green'

Scotch Moss - Sagina subulata 'Aurea' - Saw this for less than $3 per pot and grabbed it for the shade side. I've been wanting a moss, or moss looking plant, ever since I moved in. I've tried growing a moss rock, and I've tried slow growing Arenaria 'Wallowa Mountains'. I'm hoping this neon green Scotch Moss adds some bright interest and hopefully grows enough for divisions - then I can plan more dramatic and larger ground cover areas for it.

scotch mossscotch moss

Rhododendron 'Ramapo' - This dwarf, small leaf, and supposedly less fussy rhododendron will make a nice (possibly evergreen) addition to the wet side yard. It likes moist soil, but not completely wet. I think a raised bed on the damp side is a nice compromise. The only setback is that this guy likes acid soil, so I'll have to further amend the alkaline clay soil. I added topsoil and manure, but I think I'll sprinkle some peat moss around the base to add some acid.

Rhododendron 'Ramapo'
Rhododendron 'Ramapo' gets to be about 2 feet wide and tall

Japanese Andromeda - Pieris japonica 'Passion' - Lily-of-the-Valley - this plant goes by many names, and let's face it, I bought it because it had the word Andromeda in it. It's also a nice blooming shrub that tolerates shade, so that's a win. It will also add some structure to my side yard in winter so everything doesn't die down completely to the ground. Similar to the rhododendron, it likes acid soil so I'll have to sprinkle in some peat moss. I planted it up high and dry on a raised bed in a wet side yard, so it should get the best of both - access to moisture when it wants it, but without wet feet.

Japanese Andromeda - Pieris japonica 'Passion'Japanese Andromeda - Pieris japonica 'Passion'

These plants, especially the acid lovers, are going to require some TLC this spring and summer, but hopefully will up my shade garden game to a whole new level!

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