Ideal spots for planting are easily identified in shaded areas of the garden. Here, sporelings of Japanese Painted and Sensitive ferns appear together, competing in scattered pockets of deep, moist soil. Too often, Japanese stilt grass encroaches, though it is less particular about the spaces it invades. Fortunately, while persistent and a considerable nuisance, the grass is shallow rooted and easily removed.
While ideal conditions are rare in this dry shade beneath towering maples, blackgum, and tulip poplars, I search for the next best, soils where a hole can be carved between shallow roots to plant Solomon’s Seals, mayapples (below), and trilliums. I’m inspired by my early summer visit to woodland gardens on Washington’s Kitsap Peninsula to fill every inch of shaded spaces with lush foliage, though this effort is challenged by the thin layer of soil and irregular irrigation.
In a bit more sun, and out of reach of the worst of tree roots, abundant seedlings of hellebores and toad lilies (Tricyrtis hirta) must be dug and potted for giveaways, or discarded. Several are transplanted, or left in place, though this takes space that is contrary to my lust to plant at least one of everything.
I hesitate to admit failures of common plants that anyone can grow. Japanese anemones are often aggressive in gardens, but here they have failed repeatedly in sun and shade, damp and dry. Certainly, there is some spot where soil and sunlight is ideal, but I’ve failed to find it, and probably never will since there’s no sense wasting another nickel on a plant I can’t find an ideal spot for.