5 Native Washington Plants for a Shady Deck
The warm spring and summer months of the Pacific Northwest are a good payoff for its infamous rainy days. Thanks to the abundance of trees that come with the territory, Washington is home to many shady cedar decks that are perfect for backyard barbeques and watching shooting stars in the summer.
However, a shady yard or deck can pose a challenge for backyard gardeners, who must carefully choose plants that thrive on little sun. Fortunately, when it comes to gardening on your cedar decking, Washington has a plethora of native plants that flourish in shady areas to make your outdoor living space a timberland paradise.
1. Vine Maple (Acer circinatum)
While a vine maple is not a plant, it makes for an interesting bonsai. Bonsai is the Japanese art of planting trees, bush plants or flowers in a shallow dish. As a result, you are able to control the height of a vine maple and create an elegant focal point for your shady cedar deck. Vancouver residents will enjoy the fact that because the vine maple thrives in full and partial shade, you can keep this type of bonsai on your deck all year.
A young vine maple tree has bark that is bright green and smooth, which will eventually turn brown as the tree ages. In the spring, the leaves are green. During the fall, the leaves turn orange-red or red if in direct sun. Trees in shady locations, however, have leaves that turn a golden color in the fall. The vine maple produces flowers in May and June that are small and have white petals with red or purple highlights. To grow a vine maple as a bonsai on your cedar decking, Washington homeowners should purchase a shallow dish for plants that drains water well. You will also need plant food and potting soil made specifically for bonsais.
2. Tiger Lily (Lilium columbianum)
Also known as the Columbia lily, the tiger lily grows stalks that measure up to three feet or more. With a cedar deck, Vancouver homeowners can use the tiger lily to line the perimeter of the structure. As its name suggests, the tiger lily produces orange flowers that have dark spots; its petals curl back toward the stem of the plant.
It is best to grow tiger lilies from seed, in their bulb form, or in containers, as the wild form of the native Washington plant does not survive the stresses of transplantation well. When growing tiger lilies around your cedar deck, use moist soil and organic matter (compost) that drains well.
3. Oak Fern (Gymnocarpium dryopteris)
Reaching a height of 16 inches or less, the delicate fronds of the oak fern can soften the look of your cedar deck. Vancouver residents can use the oak fern in planters placed on cedar deck rails to create the look of cascading leaves. Alternatively, a homeowner can also use them to accent large potted plants on the deck or at the foot of trees or shrubs situated around the structure. The oak fern thrives in shady areas and in soil that is moist and well drained.
4. Fringecup (Tellima grandiflora)
The fringecup is a whimsical-looking plant that stands up to two feet in height and has small purple or white flowers whose petals are fringed. Washington residents may frequently notice the fringecup lining walkways or in English-style gardens. In a yard with a cedar deck, Washington homeowners can use fringecup plants to line the perimeter or to create a potted plant display. The fringecup flowers in April to July, tolerates fully shaded areas well and grows best in well-draining, moist soil.
5. Pink Wintergreen (Pyrola asarifolia)
The pink wintergreen is a woodland herb that grows thin stalks lined with small, pink flowers that are bell-shaped and bloom in the late spring. The stalks grow 10-20 centimeters high, with glossy, smooth green leaves. The pink wintergreen is great to use as an ornamental plant in planters placed on a Washington cedar deck, as it requires shady conditions and moist soil that drains well.
Native plants are easier to care for because they are already in their ideal growing environment. Therefore, by using native plants to decorate a shady cedar deck, Washington homeowners will enjoy the benefits of a low-maintenance garden.
[ photo by: nordique ]