spring  in the East Garden


In the spring of 2001, we installed a long-overdue septic system. Digging out the area for the septic bed produced tons of rock that we used to fill a deep hollow on the east side of the property. I had wanted to create a garden in this area for some time, and finally it seemed my patience was going to be rewarded.

An added bonus would be that the garden would be our first with significant shade, something sorely lacking in the past. There is such a wonderful array of shade plants available these days I could hardly wait to get my hands on some of them.

The bed was quickly built, a cedar rail fence was erected along the back, running from north to south. After rocks were moved into place along the front edge, to match our other beds, all that was needed was the plants. Plant hunts in mid-summer resulted in some real finds at bargain prices.

Perennials are such marvellous plants - just a few short years later this garden was looking lush and lovely.

looking southwardlooking northward

We had such high hopes for this garden. But it wasn't long before problems became apparent.


Several years have now passed and we've had to accept some hard truths about our shade garden.

  • The shade comes from our neighbour's garage and cedar trees on the east side of this bed. The roots of the trees are growing into the bed, sucking up much of the moisture needed by taller perennials at the rear. Now we're researching drought-tolerant shade plants to find something suitable for this environment.
  • Since the garden faces west it is shaded until noon, with some parts getting no sun until about 2 p.m. Once the bright afternoon sun hits however, some of the plants wilt quickly.
  • The soil we puchased locally for this garden, although very black, is a disgrace. Very sandy and with little body, it is full of weed seeds and a kind of root we have yet to identify.
  • Some areas of this new bed are infused with Liverwort, botanical name Marchantia polymorpha, which normally thrives in damp places but is fast becoming a serious problem here, even in very dry shade. Probably introduced with a new perennial, this prehistoric plant is turning a pleasurable hobby into a real chore because of all the extra work required to try to eliminate it. For more information, follow the link to Oregon State University site. Learn what Liverwort looks like and be on guard. It is appearing more often on the soil surface of purchased plants. Never buy anything with soil showing signs of the plant in the image below or on the pages of the link.

Marchantia polymorpha - Liverwort


Along with the drawbacks there have been successes as well. All of the plants below seem to like the conditions in this garden. Click on each image to find suitable partners to plant with them.