Saturday, May 6, 2017

Glorious Shade

Shade loving plants in a narrow border at Meadowbrook Farm

This is my third visit to Meadowbrook Farm in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania. I've now seen three seasons of its beauty; I think spring may be my favorite. Click here for a description of my first visit last summer then compare the pictures with today's photographs. This time I am here for a wonderful event: we are celebrating the launching of Jenny Rose Carey's new book from Timber Press, Glorious Shade. As readers of this blog know, Jenny Rose is the senior director at Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) Meadowbrook. (You may have read my posting about The Philadelphia Flower Show in which I feature Jenny Rose.  If not click here.) I received my copy of Glorious Shade a couple of weeks ago and I'm excited for Jenny Rose to sign it. The book signing takes place in the lobby of the beautiful Pennock House.

Jenny Rose's Book Signing in the Pennock House Lobby
Glorious Shade by Jenny Rose Carey
Pennock Estate House

 Following the book signing, Jenny Rose gives a brief, but informative, lecture. We enjoy cheese and wine then take a stroll, wineglass in hand, around the garden.  I have illustrated the following review of Glorious Shade with pictures from our garden walk. Note: my photographs are not intended to match my text, but are meant to give you a feel for the gardens as we walk through them. So pour yourself a glass of wine and meander with us.

 Espaliered laburnum Laburnum anagyroides--My mother in England called it Golden Chain
The courtyard fountain planted with spring blooms

 The book's subtitle says so much: Dazzling Plants, Design Ideas, and Proven Techniques for Your Shady Garden.  The book is divided into sections, the first one stressing the importance of learning the shade patterns in your garden. Jenny describes the various types of shade and the plants that benefit from each kind. I learned from this chapter that I should plant tough, drought-tolerant plants on the west side of my house because it now has morning shade only, due to the loss of the maple tree. I am in the process of moving my hostas that grow there to an area with afternoon shade.

Fern maidenhair spleenwort Asplenium trichomanes grows in crevices.

There is a section about soil and roots. I so agree with Jenny Rose on the importance of adding organic matter  to encourage root growth and promote healthy plants. Every year I scatter compost on the surface around my plants -- a great way to improve soil structure. Jenny Rose gives clear directions for making 'fabulous, friable, or crumbly leaf mold.' She explains the purpose of roots, reinforcing the importance of avoiding the application of high rates of fertilizer around trees in order to maintain a healthy relationship between microscopic fungi and roots. I learned some tips, such as building a tree pit to avoid smothering roots when I change the soil level with each new lasagna garden. (Of course, H.H. says the best solution is to stop making more gardens.)

Jenny Rose telling us about the herb garden.

Jenny Rose gives very inspirational descriptions of several design styles in her section called 'Designing in the Shadows: Bright Ideas for Shady Spaces.' She discusses woodland gardens, moss gardens, Japanese- or Chinese-inspired gardens, rock gardens, xeric gardens, tropical gardens, water gardens, walled or courtyard gardens, container gardens, and orchard gardens. Whew! In this section she also talks about designing with paths and includes gardens that attract wildlife. My personal favorite is about designing areas for children and I love the whimsical tea-pot water feature she added to her own garden.

Azalea Rhododendron narcissiflora
Bluebells Hyacinthoides hispanica

There is a gardener's calendar in one chapter and numerous techniques and maintenance tips in another. The gardener's calendar describes the garden through the seasons with tasks for each one. I think this section is Jenny Rose's personal favorite. The maintenance chapter gives an in-depth guide to taking care of your shade garden.

Beautiful Azaleas
Paperbark maple Acer griseum

Dwarf crested iris Iris crestata

The final chapter tells you how to choose plants that thrive in the shade. Jenny describes 200 genera of plants with photographs for each genus. Jenny Rose told me she took 35,000 photographs to get the 400 shown in the book. They are stunning. This week I purchased bloodroot Sanguinaria canadensis and wild ginger Saruma henryi; I added several other plants to my 'must-have' list.

Fabulous colony of ostrich fern Matteuccia struthiopteris
Ferns, Lungwort Pulmonaria, Bleeding heart Dicentra  and other shade plants
Delphiniums in springtime? Shh ...They were forced in the greenhouse.
Larkspur Delphinium

I love the 'substantial' feel of this volume with its glossy pages that are loaded with colorful illustrations. In this post,  I touch upon only a small fraction of the valuable information that the book contains. In every chapter, the author's voice comes through as passionate, enthusiastic and inspiring. It is as if Jenny Rose is speaking to the reader one-on-one. Thank you, dear friend; I continue to learn from you.

I enjoyed writing the review and hope you found it useful. I do hope some of you are inspired to buy Jenny Rose's book. Here is the link to Glorious Shade on Amazon.  Next month I plan on reviewing some other recent additions to my garden library.

Happy Gardening,
Pamela x

I love reading your comments. I hope you leave one so I’ll know you visited! 
I look forward to visiting your blog in return.


  1. Trying a new to me plant, on the nursery's advice, for one of my rare bits of shade.

    1. I'm glad you have some shade in your South African garden, Diana. I hope your new plant thrives for you.

  2. Jenny Rose's book sounds wonderful and her chapter on Designing in the Shadows: Bright Ideas for Shady Spaces especially sounds interesting. I will definitely be checking out this book as an addition to my gardening library. Thank you for writing such a detailed review.

    1. As you are a garden designer, Lee, I believe you would really enjoy Jenny Rose's book and find it useful.

  3. I think designing a garden which is in shade is definitely one of the trickier aspects of gardening but it sounds like this book has some wonderful solutions. We had a laburnum tree in the garden when I was growing up, I love how the one in your photo is espaliered, that's so pretty, and the planted up fountain is a real eye catcher.

    1. My Mom's neighbor had a laburnum that dropped some mess over the fence, and Mom would be cross. The one at Meadowbrook is the only one I've seen here. It is beautiful.

  4. That's a wonderful review of what sounds like a very useful and helpful book for those with shade areas in our gardens and that would include me, with three large live oaks and one red oak shading much of my front yard. I think I need to put this book on my TBR list.

    1. Your oak trees must be wonderful! We have trees, but no oaks.

  5. What a lovely book and gorgeous tour! We've been rethinking the gardens here and my husband feels the same way as yours, less is more...still I'm not ready to hang up the trowel just yet. Glorious shade is an apt title, on a hot summer day, I head for the shade gardens to work. :-)

  6. Enjoyed my meander Pam. Our back garden is North East facing and although I love shade loving plants I am totally surprised by the fact that we get a fair bit of sunshine in the garden.

  7. What a lovely garden visit you have shared with us, as well as a good book review -- looks like an interesting book. Glad you had such a nice day out. Best, -Beth