Shade Gardening Program Notes

Thursday, November 10, 2016 at 1:00 PM at Birch Bay Village Inn, Bar Harbor. “Shade Gardening” presented by Cassie Banning (Garden Manager, Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Garden).

Bar Harbor Garden Club Meeting Speaker Notes

Cassie Banning is the manager of Abby Aldridge Rockefeller Garden and McAlpin Farm. She has a degree in horticulture from Cornell the the NY Botanical Gardens School of Professional Horticulture. She moved to MDI in 2013 from Indiana where, for 9 years, she managed the horticulture operation at a museum.

There are many different elements involved in shade gardening.

  • Full Shade – no direct sun or maybe non-direct. This tends to produce larger leaves, less flowers, and is not as dense.
  • Woodland Shade – carpeted in spring ephemerals all growing before leaves come out (like Siberian Squill or Cilla). There is medium and light shade, depending on tree density and type.
  • Medium Shade – This is the best of all shade. There is 2 to 4 hours of direct sun early or late in the day.
  • Total Shade – no direct sun or indirect sun. Lichens and mosses grow well here.

The Rockefeller Garden has morning shade in the east, and afternoon sun for 2 to 4 hours. In the west, there is morning sun for 6 hours and 2 hours shade in the afternoon.  Gardeners there are constantly testing what plants do best in those conditions.

Competition – Trees, with lots of roots, compete with flowers. It is better to water deeper and less often, about 6 to 8 inches deep. This helps produce a healthy deep root system. The exception is moss, which loves stream banks. You would water about 1 inch deep but daily when it’s hot. Keep debris removed from it. Moss gets its nutrients from the air.

  • A good ph for soil is 6.5. You can have your soil tested through the Analytical Lab and Maine soil Testing https:/ lab.
  • Spacing Plants is important.

Plant pestsvoles and mice – if you notice debris around the base of plants or angled cuts, you have these pests. For slugs, she uses “Sluggo” about every 2 weeks. She uses Milorganite for deer. If you find a bacterial leaf spot, remove the plant. There are sprays to prevent fungal leaf spot but they change the ph. She uses “Green Cure” which is a base (fungi like acidic soil). You can use baking soil and water.

Favorite shade plants

  • Rock polypody, and staghorn lichen
  • begonias in pots
  • water hyacinth, water lettuce, sweet flag are nice in a bowl of water.
  • Viburnum and hosta do well together
  • Brunnera and Siberian Bugloss and Dixie woodfern (deer do not like brunnera)
  • Umbrella plant (darmera peltata)
  • royal fern, maidenhair fern, Japanese beech fern, enkianthus, hydrangea (phantom), and Japanese painted fern.


  • browallia (compact sapphire) can do full shade.
  • Begonia waterfall, begonia grandid
  • venus coral bells, stormy seas coral bells, backout coral bells
  • perennial geraniums (June and July)
  • lavender mist, meadow rue – perrenial
  • hypericum bugadoon – St. John’s Wart
  • Japanese anemone – a bee lover
  • toad lily (Blue Wonder and Dark Beauty)
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