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Planting the Siberian Crab apple in the northwest corner provided the height and spring blooms we wanted, and the under planting of spring bulbs has worked wonderfully. The corner is a magnet for us and anyone else who visits in the month of May. But by midsummer, it is a very dry, very shady corner indeed. I searched the Net for advice on what plants would tolerate these conditions - and quite honestly, didn't come up with much! But lo and behold, in the October/November edition of Canadian Gardening, a short note provided a great deal more information:

  • GROUND COVERS: Ajuga, hosta, lady's-mantle, bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva ursi), pachistima, boxwood, wintercreeper (Euonymous fortunei 'Coloratus') and Japanese spurge.
  • LOW GROWING SHRUBS: 'Little Princess" and 'Halward's Silver' spirea and cotoneaster.
  • TALLER SHRUBS: Flowering alpine current, mahonia, kerria, snowberry, bayberry, and 'Anthony Waterer' and 'Bridal Shower' spireas.
  • CONIFERS: Yew
  • INFO FROM THE NET: Smooth Hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle'), and Drooping Leucothoe (Leucothoe fontanesiana).
INFO FROM A READER: Thanks to Nancy Oakes in PEI (Redlane Gardens)
  • Lamiun 'White Nancy' - wonderful sliver and green foliage that's very reflective at night like on a full moon. Works great as an edging near driveways, etc. because the lights pick it up right away. Runs on top of the ground so is relatively easy to keep in bounds and when the blooms are looking a little ratty on July I just run the lawnmower over it and it's back blooming in 2 weeks.
  • Epimendium - any and all, but the rubras have really nice red veined foliage. The flowers are strange little things and not very showy, but the foliage is hard to beat, plus it stays all winter - a nice red/brown.
  • Oakleak Hydrangea - A nice change - flowers aren't as showy, but the foliage and shape of the plant are quite wonderful.
  • Lots of different hardy Geraniums especially G. pheum - maroon, near black blooms in Spring and the same colour blotches on the leaves. G.'Gravetye'- nice large blue blooms in early summer and again in fall. G. 'Wargrave Pink' - big and a bit sprawling, but blooms all summer with little pink fleurs.
UPDATE: Five years later, we are still struggling with the problem we created. The various ground covers have grown well, but height is still a challenge. However, this spring we have heavily pruned the now large tree - and have high hopes for a sunnier, but still dry location