Aug 23rd, 2012

Ever Wonder What to Plant in Your Dry Shade? We're Working on that!

Go Gators!

Go Gators!

by Amelia Hardy, Gilliam Research Intern, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden 

Interning at Lewis Ginter has been one of the best summers of my life. The fact that a college student, from Florida, says that working all summer is better than being a beach bum should speak magnitudes about how wonderful Lewis Ginter is. I was able to spend my summer gaining hands-on experience in a field that I love. The real icing on the cake is that not only was I doing what I love; I was surrounded by people who feel the same. I think that Lewis Ginter is such an extraordinary place because everyone has such a passion for what they are doing. This applies to not just the horticulture staff but the entire garden staff and also the impressively dedicated volunteer force. It is also evident that one of the goals of the garden is to be a public educator of horticulture. All of the horticulturalists are so knowledgeable and helpful, which was a great learning tool not only for myself but also all the visitors.

My official position at Lewis Ginter is the dry shade research intern. The goal of this project is to trial new or underutilized plants for dry shade so the garden is better able to advise home gardeners on what to plant in their own dry shade areas. The trial bed areas are also hoped to serve as inspiration for dry shade gardeners and allow them to see the plants in the ground before choosing them for their own garden. In all, I spent countless hours clearing the trial areas and planted 31 different species, almost 200 plants in total but it was all worth it to see the finished product.

Before shot of a trial bed in the Woodland Area behind the Children's Garden

Before shot of a trial bed in the Woodland Area behind the Children’s Garden


After shot of a trial bed in the Woodland Area behind the Children's Garden

After shot of a trial bed in the Woodland Area behind the Children’s Garden

Three other trial beds are located along the Wild Side Walk, behind Bloemendaal House.

One interesting specimen planted is the voodoo lily (Sauromatum venosum). It is a bulb that first puts out its fly-pollinated flower and then sends out its foliage.

voodoo lily sends out foliage

voodoo lily sends out foliage

voodoo lily fly-pollinated flower

voodoo lily fly-pollinated flower

I think that the work I have done this year has laid a strong foundation to continue dry shade research in upcoming years.  Future interns will continue to monitor the plants installed this year to see which species perform the best in Virginia’s climate.  I hope that after I leave the trial beds continue to fill out, become even more beautiful and really start to serve their purpose.  I am so grateful for the opportunity to be an intern at Lewis Ginter and I want to thank all the staff, volunteers, and visitors for making it such a wonderful experience.

Here’s a list of what we planted:

2012 Dry Shade Research Plants  
Asarum canadense Wild Ginger
Asarum splendens ‘Quicksilver’ Quicksilver Wild Chinese Ginger
Aspidistra elatior ‘Spektacular’ Spektacular Cast Iron Plant
Athyrium asplenioides Southern Lady Fern
Athyrium niponicum var. pictum ‘Burgundy Lace’ Japanese Painted Fern
Athyrium x ‘Ghost’ Ghost Fern
Carex comans ‘Frosted Curls’ Sedge Frosted Curls
Carex flaccosperma Blue Wood Sedge
Cheilanthes lanosa Montgomery Co, VA Perennial Harry Lip Fern
Disporopsis pernyi Evergreen Solomon’s Seal
Dodecatheon meadia Shooting Star
Dryopteris ludoviciana Southern Shield Fern
Dryopteris sieboldii Siebold’s Wood Fern
Dryopteris x australis Dixie Wood Fern
Epimedium x versicolor ‘Sulphureum’ Sulphureum Fairy Wings
Filipendula ‘Red Umbrellas’ Meadowsweet
Phegopteris hexagonoptera Southern Beech Fern
Phlox glaberrima ‘Morris Berd’ Smooth Phlox
Polemonium reptans ‘Touch of Class’ Variegated Jacobs Ladder
Polygonatum canaliculatum Solomon’s Seal
Polygonatum humile Solomon’s Seal
Rohdea japonica Sacred Lily
Sauromatum venosum Voodoo Lily
Thelypteris kunthii Abundant Maiden Fern
Tradescantia ‘Bilberry Ice’ Spider Lily ‘Bilberry Ice’
Tradescantia ‘Little Doll’ Spider Lily ‘Little Doll’
Tricyrtis formosana ‘Dark Beauty’ Japanese Toad Lily
Tricyrtis hirta ‘Moonlight’ Japanese Toad Lily
Trillium flexipes White Nodding Trillium
Trillium grandiflorum Great White Trillium
Trillium luteum Yellow Trillium

Note: The Gilliam Research Intern is a paid internship,  made possible by  a bequest from Lucy Crockin who left restricted funds for the creation of the Henry Eugene Gilliam Plant Experimentation and Research Endowment Fund dedicated to plant experimentation and research at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. For the past two years, the Garden’s interns have focused their study on herbaceous plants for dry shade environments.

Jonah Holland is Digital Content Manager at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, where she has worked for 14 years overseeing social media, the blog, and the website. She is also a mom, yogi, open water swimmer, gardener, and seeker. She's been known to go for a walk in the Garden and come back with hundreds of plant photos, completely inspired to write her next blog post.

You May Also Like