Where I’m coming from...
…physically For 30 years, I have gardened primarily in the shade. From a studio apartment in Manhattan through my current home, varying degrees of shade have been my destiny.
Our current home in central Fairfield County, CT, perches atop a ledge surrounded by undisturbed woods. Despite removing dozens of trees over the years, the garden remains at least partially shaded. This is Zone 6a with springs that are more a fond memory than reliable seasons, humid summers, spectacular falls and ambivalent winters punctuated by harsh west winds. The soil is generally sandy, often shallow, with areas of clay.
My yard features large glacial erratics and ledge stone, not to mention a dozen rocks in each planting hole. I’ve learned the hard way that the abundance of rock means abundant rodents, which is bound to be a frequent topic of discussion! The rock also absorbs and retains heat—a bit like the moderating effect of being near the water. This means that my yard can behave like a slightly warmer zone.
Following years of spraying and other tactics to protect my plantings from the appetites of deer, I saved my sanity by installing a deer fence. So, while deer browsing is no longer an issue for me, I will attempt to alert you to deer issues as needed.
...intellectually I’m a Master Gardener certified by UConn in 2000 and an active garden club member. My goal is to minimize my carbon footprint by gardening organically, composting, removing invasives and supporting native species.
...emotionally My default setting has always been that nature-made is superior to man-made—that leaving things ‘natural’ is better than imposing arbitrary order. It’s taken me many years to truly accept the idea that gardening is by definition unnatural. It is the attempt to control and improve upon nature. Yet at the same time we must cooperate and listen to nature to have any success. Nature Creates. Gardeners Edit. It’s all about the balance.
Kerria Japonica is a carefree shrub that makes a striking display in May (with sporadic flowers later) and blooms well in medium shade. It is even deer-resistant.