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Shade Gardens East & West

Posted by cahnrs.webteam | December 20, 2013


  • Various types of shade
  • Various deciduous and conifer trees; shrubbery and short plants
  • Various tree heights (from 6 -100 foot trees)

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The Shade Gardens were established in 2000 and the development of shade has been slow in this full-sun location that once was farmland and thus had very little need for shade. Here, trees lend their leaves to shade smaller plants and cool the earth. There are also shade shadows cast by rocks and tall plants. No matter how shade is created, it’s needed for plants that cannot thrive in full sun, and must rely upon cooler temperatures to flourish. The goal of this garden is to explore the different kinds of shade and the plants that will grow best under those conditions.

More than 15 trees and numerous shrubs have been planted in the Shade Garden. They include: enormously tall trees such as the Weeping Blue Atlas Cedar and Dawn Redwood that can grow to 100 feet. The American Yellowood, Ginko or Austrian Black Pine trees planted here are also quite tall and can grow to 50-60 feet. If you prefer a ‘smaller’ tree, one that grows to about 40 feet, the Variegated Alaskan Cedar or Table Dogwood may suit your fancy. A Shantung Maple, European Hornbeam or Galaxy Magnolia tree are also nice shade providers. Their growth does not typically exceed 20-30 feet.

Of course, shrubs provide shade too. Examples flourishing here include Exbury Hybrid Azalea, Berry Rose Exbury Azalea, dwarf Korean and Miss Kim Lialacs all of which are about 6 feet high.

Hemerocallis ‘Decatur Gleam’ are daylilies. As a short plant it provides a little shade to cool the soil and help other plants grow. Some herbs like the woolly thyme are also good examples of short plants that will shade the edge of a border garden or cool stepping stones.

One other note: Although we often think of shady areas as being cool and damp, certain shady spots actually have poor, dry soil. That’s because surface tree roots suck up all the available moisture and nutrients. A thick canopy of tree leaves may deflect rain from the ground beneath. you’ll want to observe the moisture content of your shade soil and consider taking a soil sample if your landscape appear to have these conditions.

Not all shade is equal. Types of shade include:

  • Deep, all-day shade: soil may be moist or dry; no sun reaches the ground
  • Part (or half) shade: plants will still be in direct sun part of the time
  • Light (or filtered) shade: dappled light that supports a wide variety of plants
  • Open shade: no direct sunlight falls but light may be reflected from surrounding walls. Open shade often occurs on the north side of a building. Soil may be moist or dry.
  • Seasonal shade: occurs part of the year and may allow full sun based on the season

Trees and plants will be more likely to thrive if their specific shade tolerances are considered when planting. Luckily, there are a wide array of plant life that loves shade. The Shade Gardens provide you with a living experiment, the results of which can be applied in your own landscape.


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1620 S. Union
Kennewick, Washington

(In Kennewick’s Grange Park behind the Mid-Columbia Library)

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