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The Shade Garden at Greenbank Farm

Program Contact: Loren Imes
(360) 639-6059 •

The Shade Garden at the Greenbank Master Gardener Demonstration Garden started as an official garden in the spring of 2006 by several members of the Master Gardener Class of 2006. The garden was created to:

  • display a variety of shade-tolerant plants that thrive on Whidbey Island,
  • provide a quiet resting spot under the trees

The initial work consisted of clearing horsetail and developing planting areas and the seating area cleared and graveled. A craftsman from Scatchet Head was commissioned to make the twig furniture.

  • Hosta (Lilaceae)
  • Ferns (sword fern; polystichum munitum)
  • Lilies (Lilium)
  • Hellebore (Helleborus)
  • Several ground covers
  • Bulbs

A swath of colored pebbles washed down to the dry creek bed where it blends into the Native Garden at the footbridge. A fence was constructed at the lower (east) side of the garden to define the edge of the shade garden and beginning of the natural wetland. Three Gunnera plants were established in the wet soils along the fence.

A winter storm in 2007-2008 toppled the centerpiece tree in the round bed. The bed was replanted with several hydrangeas and sedums, geraniums, and bulbs.

The trees around the shade garden continue to age and some became diseased and weakened. In 2013, the curly willow tree was removed as 70 percent of its crown was dead and it was becoming a hazard for breakage. The tall stump remains and may one day become garden art. The native cherry trees on both sides of the garden became infested with the Cherry Bark tortrix, a moth common to Europe and first found in British Columbia and Washington State in 1989. The decision was made to remove all the cherry trees in 2014.

So 2015 is a year of major change for the shade garden. New shade tree have been planted (Magnolia, Red Maple, Scarlet Oak, Western Yew, Cascara) to produce the next generation of deciduous shade. You will also notice new (in 2014) furniture in the seating area, crafted from the curly willow branches by Albe. It will take time to redevelop dense shade the garden had prior to 2013. In the interim more sun-loving plants will take center stage, while a new list of shade-loving plants is developed for the future.

Please take time to sit in the Shade Garden and enjoy the sights and sounds.