Thursday, July 20, 2017

Glorious Shade Book Review & Giveaway


This summer I am tackling a neglected flowerbed under some mature lilac bushes. Sadly it's a task that has long been overshadowed by a litany of other more pressing projects. I've cleared away the weeds and removed a big patch of ditch daylilies that were mostly green due to the lack of sunlight. What I have now is basically a clean slate.

The possibilities are limited only by my imagination and the growing conditions–which I would describe as dry shade. My wish list is ambitious–I want some color, attractive foliage and year round interest.

What are my options?

It's an exciting project to think about, but if I'm being honest, a blank canvas can be a little intimidating even for an experienced gardener like myself. Hostas are versatile and dependable, but there are other more interesting and unusual options I'd like to consider as well. And that's where having a great reference like Glorious Shade has come in handy. The book is well researched and packed with valuable information. It's been fun to be able to pour through the plant listings and begin to plan.

From the book Glorious Shade. Photo by Jenny Rose Carey. © 2017 Jenny Rose Carey. Published by Timber Press. Excerpted with permission of the publisher.

I want to start out by commenting on the book title: Glorious Shade. So often gardeners think of shade as a disadvantage and not as an opportunity. But the descriptive "glorious" is well within the realm of possibilities for a shade garden. Shade gardens tend to be greener spaces that rely more on foliage than flowers, but that is not to say they are without color.

From the book Glorious Shade. Photo by Jenny Rose Carey. © 2017 Jenny Rose Carey. Published by Timber Press. Excerpted with permission of the publisher.

Shade seems like a simple enough term, but light changes with the passage of the sun and the shifting seasons. Author Jenny Rose Carey defines "full shade" as areas of a garden receiving less than 2 hours of sun and "part shade" as 2-6 hours of sunlight, but even so, within these parameters there are varying degrees and qualities of light.

The number of hours of shade, and the time of day it occurs are important considerations when choosing plants. Morning sun/afternoon shade is the most gentle type of light. The opposite, morning shade/afternoon sun, requires tougher plants that can take the heat. Plants with delicate leaves, and those that like moist soil are better planted where there is some protection from the sun.

The flowerbed I am reworking is in shade in the early morning. As the sun climbs in the sky, the area gets some sunlight, but this period of light is interrupted twice as the sun passes behind two big trees on the opposite side of the garden.

From the book Glorious Shade. Photo by Jenny Rose Carey. © 2017 Jenny Rose Carey. Published by Timber Press. Excerpted with permission of the publisher.

Glorious Shade also addresses the seasonal changes that take place in a shade garden. Every season has its delights, a calendar of tasks and a list of plants that provide interest.  Other chapters cover soil improvement, choosing the right plants and designing a shade garden. The chapter on design includes notes on different types of gardens; rock gardens, xeric gardens, and water and moss gardens–just to name a few. There is even a brief section dedicated to container gardening in shade.

The part of the book that I think you'll refer to again and again is the reference of plants, trees and shrubs for shade. Each type of plant has a photo, a point-form list of growing conditions and notations on size and zone. This lets you know at a glance wether a plant is what your looking for. A detailed plant profile follows with more key information.

I also think you'll find that the lists peppered throughout the book are super handy; plants for moist to wet soil, native plants, plants for well-drained soil, fragrant shade plants, plants for seasonal interest, etc.

Just to give you an idea of how useful a reference this book might be, I thought I'd highlight a few of the recommended shrubs for shade conditions.

One thing I want to include in my flowerbed redesign is a shrub to hide the rather ugly trunk of an evergreen tree. I always default to a yew, which has the bonus of also being evergreen, but how boring of me when there are so many other shrubs I should consider!

Let's take a look at a few of the many options suggested in the book.

From the book Glorious Shade. Photo by Jenny Rose Carey. © 2017 Jenny Rose Carey. Published by Timber Press. Excerpted with permission of the publisher.

Philadelphus x virginalis
Sweet Mock Orange
Part shade
8-10 ft tall and wide
USDA zones: 4-8

This is a shrub that's been on my wish list for a while. The white flowers have are scented like orange blossoms. Prune it after it flowers.

From the book Glorious Shade. Photo by Jenny Rose Carey. © 2017 Jenny Rose Carey. Published by Timber Press. Excerpted with permission of the publisher.

Itea virginica
Virginia Sweet Spire
Bright or Part shade
3-5 ft. tall and 3-6 ft. wide
USDA zones: 5-9

Virginia Sweet Spire is native to eastern North America. It's adaptable and will grow in a wide range of soil conditions from fairly dry to quite moist. Long white flowers appear in summer and are quite fragrant. The foliage turns red in the fall. The leaves of cultivar 'Henry's Garnet' acquire a vibrant reddish-purple hue in the autumn. 'Little Henry' is a smaller cultivar.
Update: One reader in Alabama has warned me that this is a shrub that suckers and spreads– something to keep in mind.

From the book Glorious Shade. Photo by Jenny Rose Carey. © 2017 Jenny Rose Carey. Published by Timber Press. Excerpted with permission of the publisher.

Kalmia latifolia
American Mountain Laurel
Bright to full shade
4-8 ft. or more tall and wide
USDA zones: 4-8

This is a slow growing shrub that likes moist, somewhat acidic soil. It flowers in late spring/early summer with blooms that are white, pink or dark red.

Korean Spice Viburnum, Viburnum carlessii (my own image)

Private garden Toronto, Ontario (my own image)

Virburnum plicatum tomentosum
Doublefile Viburnum
Part shade
8-12 ft tall and wide
USDA zones: 5-8

Viburnum are a group of deciduous or evergreen shrubs that grow best in dappled shade. 

I'm showing two examples: Korean Spice Viburnum, Viburnum carlessii has waxy, pink flowers that fade to white. The flowers are followed by bright red berries that become black as they ripen. Virburnum plicatum tomentosum or Doublefile Viburnum has non-fragrant, white flowers in late spring. Red fruit follow the flowers. 


Private garden Toronto, Ontario (my own image)

Bottlebrush Buckeye (my own image)
Aesculus parviflora
Bottlebrush Buckeye
Part to full shade
8-12 ft tall and up to 15 wide

Aesculus are deciduous trees and shrubs with palmate foliage. 

A Bottlebrush Buckeye has upright flower panicles in mid-summer that butterflies love. In autumn, the leaves are bright, golden-yellow. This shrub likes moist soil especially when it is getting established. In ideal conditions, it will spread to form a colony (something to bear in mind).



Smooth Hydrangea
Hydrangea Incrediball Blush
4-5 ft tall and 5 ft wide

Incrediball Blush is one of the new introduction. It has thicker stems than classic smooth hydrangeas and massive pink tinged with magenta flowers. It flowers on new growth, so prune it in late winter/early spring.

There are many more ideas in the book. I'm still looking through them all and trying to decide.


I'm going to give the final words of this post to the author. Jenny Rose Carey writes:

"As you develop your own shade garden, choose trees that you love, fill your space with plants that inspire you, and arrange them in ways that please you. Your garden will be an outdoor space that is as unique as you are, and will provide pleasure for you, your family and your guests."

Certainly this is a book that shows you that shade can indeed be glorious.



Thomas Allen & Sons has kindly given me a copy of Glorious Shade to give away. Because this book will go to a winner through the mail, I will have to limit entry to readers in Canada and the USA. 

Please leave a comment below, if you would like to be included in the book draw. The draw will remain open until Monday, July 31stIf you are not a blogger, you can enter by leaving a comment on the Three Dogs in a Garden Facebook page (there is an additional link to the Facebook page at the bottom of the blog). You are also welcome to enter by sending me an email (jenc_art@hotmail.com).

About the Author:


Jenny Rose Carey is a well-known educator, historian and author. She is the senior director at the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society's Meadowbrook Farm in Jenkintown. She is an avid, hands-on gardener who has gardened in both England and the United States. Her victorian property, Northview, contains diverse plant spaces, including a shade garden, moss garden and stumpery. Jenny Rose and her gardens have been featured on the PBS series The Victory Garden, in the Wall Street Journal, the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Pennsylvania Gardener. Glorious Shade is her first gardening book.

Photo by Rob Cardillo

30 comments:

  1. That is quite a job you tackled and I have many such jobs to do...this sounds like a great book I will have to check out as I tackle my shade areas....a wonderful book to win too! :)

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    1. Gardening like housework is never done! Good luck in the draw Donna!

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  2. I have mostly shade, but also need to use plants that do not appeal to our local deer population. Have tried many featured in your list and also shown in the photos, but those darn deer feasted on them. Would love the book, I can dream, can't I?

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    1. Deer are a big problem for so many gardeners. There is only a short section in the book addressing deer, but she does include a list of deer-resistant plants. Have you tried ferns, Foxglove, Hellebores, Brunnera, Bleeding Heart and Pulmonaria? For shrubs the author suggests Spice bush, Bottlebrush Buckeye and common boxwood.

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  3. I am also working on a plan for a large, 50 foot circular area around an huge oak tree next to my garden house. I was considering Bottlebrush Buckeye close to the trunk and something smaller in front of that. My property is mostly oak and hickory woods, acres of them, and every pocket garden I have is shaded in some way, but differently. It is extremely challenging, and it sounds like this book would make a contribution to my thought process. I also have to deal with deer and extreme temperatures. Gardening in the woods in the southern US is not for the faint of heart!. Good luck and I look forward to seeing how you proceed.

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    1. Deer and extreme temperatures– it does sound like you have a big challenge on your hands! I do think that you'd find this book helpful. Best of luck in the draw Charisse!

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  4. Thanks for the chance to win what appears to be a very resourceful book. I love the fragrance of both the mock orange and the Korean Spice Viburnum. My mock orange is in full sun however, so it must be pretty adaptable. I would love to grow the Bottlebrush Buckeye, but I think my sandy soil just wouldn't stay consistently moist enough for it. Good luck with your renovation. Hope to see you what you end up putting there.

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    1. The book suggests "part sun" so shade probably wouldn't do for the Mock Orange. It may well tolerate full sun as well.
      I was thinking that I should take a before and after shot, but the problem is that this won't be one of those instant makeovers you see on t.v.. I don't have the money for all the plants I'd need. This will be a slow project done over a few years and I am sure I will end up moving things around. Good luck in the draw Karen!

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  5. Would love to add the Philadelphus x virginalis(Sweet Mock Orange) to my shade garden. Will deer gobble this up? Please include me in the drawing for the book. Thank you.

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    1. I did not know the answer and was curious myself, so I looked it up online. I see it on at least two lists of deer resistant shrubs, so that's a good thing. Good luck in the draw Beth!

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  6. With 95 degree heat I feel so sad for my garden today. I cracked the basement sliding glass door and it was a wave of heat! Love garden books and gardening - just not today although I did water very early! I enjoyed your posting.

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    1. It's hot here today too. It's great to have most of the chores done at this time of the year so you can leave the garden alone for a couple of weeks. Somehow I never seem to manage it! I cling to the shade and move my work to take advantage of the cooler temperatures. Good luck in the draw Bernideen!

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  7. Jennifer, sounds like a wonderful book for those of us with shady yards. I'll be interested to see what ideas you come up with for your shady spot. I've come to appreciate shade and love the cool greenness on the hot days. Would love to win the book but otherwise I'll have to buy it!

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    1. I do think it is a good reference and plan to get a copy for myself. Best of luck Diane.

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  8. Shade gardening can be a challenge, but there are so many wonderful possibilities. It locks like you have a fun project ahead of you and there is nothing like a clean palette to plan and get creative! This book sounds like it has some good ideas for shade selection.

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    1. I do have my work cut out for me! LOL! Thank goodness coming up with a new planting scheme is a challenge I love.

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  9. Sounds like an interesting book. Thanks for the giveaway!

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  10. Do you know of Beth Chatto? And her books on plants for different conditions, e.g. shade? Wonderful writer and gardener!

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    1. I have just one book on Beth Chatto's garden and it is a such an inspiration. I admire her tremendously.

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  11. Oh please pick me!!!! I have 5 30 - 50 foot trees in my backyard and finding solutions to the shade mixed with dry soil has been such a challenge. Love the choices here - especially the viburnum. Have a great weekend Jennifer!

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    1. I personally think dry shade is the most challenging. Plants have to cope with the lack of sun and the lack of moisture. Best of luck in the draw Anne and I hope you have a nice weekend too.

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  12. My go-to plants when starting my first small shade garden were hostas, ferns, and hydrangeas. But I've learned over the years there are so many more shade-lovers. Adding color, though, is a challenge--this would be a great book for any gardener!

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    1. Color is a bit of a challenge. There are lots of spring flowers for shade. Color gets harder to find as the season wears on, but it is possible. Good luck in the draw Rose!

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  13. Quite a eye opener for me not wanting to step out of my dark corner. Well worst the time to read this book. Now if I can just light up my little dark corner. Hmmmmm

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    1. Unknown, I'd love to enter you in the draw, but I need a way to contact you. Can you please email me your name.

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    2. Bill Buzwah....
      billbuzwah70@gmail.com

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  14. Thanks for the opportunity to receive this wonderful book!

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  15. I'll be very interested to hear of your final decisions for your lilac shade area since half the hedge at the back of our yard is just that... several mature lilacs! When we bought the house a few years ago the underbrush was junk... privet and rose of sharon saplings everywhere. I've cleared most of that out (it keeps coming back of course!) and now have hosta and bleeding heart in the middle area, with columbine and coral bell up front... but I can't figure what could go to the back against the fence. It's true full shade there.
    It sounds like I'll need to get this book anyway (if I don't win)!

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    1. I will try to do a follow up at some point. My initial thinking includes some of your choices– hosta, bleeding heart, coral bells. My biggest worry is also what to put in front of the fence. I want the fence to just disappear!
      I am going to work slowly and build the flowerbed bit by bit. One thing I have come to realize lately is you need way less than you think you do. I want what I choose to be special.
      I will add your name to the draw Kathleen. Good luck!

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  16. Hi, Sounds like a incredible book. My yards nothing but shade, so would love some good ideas and would really like to win the book. Thanks for the chance to do just that.

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I love to hear from you. Thanks for leaving a comment.