To cover the demise of early spring foliage, plant lots of hostas in all their many foliage shapes, from heart-shaped to cupped and wrinkled. As the hostas emerge, their leaves will fill bare spaces.
There are many varieties of ferns for the shade garden including the delicate maidenhair with black stems supporting finely cut bright green fronds and the Japanese painted fern with burgundy red veins radiating to a pale whitish gray-green.
- At one end of their courtyard, white paper birch rises from a base of gray-green hostas, ferns, and euonymus.
While Betsy and E.B. Wilson work with a peaceful palette, it doesn’t mean that all places shady need to be tempered. Foliage plants for shade can be a cacophony of color. Coleus are exotic annual clowns with leaves splashed in daring combinations of burgundy and chartreuse.