Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Favorite shade plant combo

A yellow, gold and burgundy grouping for shade that I love is the vigorous small ground cover Hosta 'Golden Tiara' teamed with variegated golden hakone grass (Hakonechloa macra 'Aureloa') and purple shamrock (Oxalis regnelli), often sold as Oxalis triangularis. The oxalis is not hardy, so I used to lift them in the fall and store them over the winter.

I use this combo to great effect in a narrow bed alongside the house. Because the surrounding plants have doubled in size over the past four years (I really must split those hostas), there's not a lot of space left in the ground. My solution: I now grow the oxalis in containers.

In the fall, the pots go into the basement and without water, the oxalis goes into dormancy and overwinters in an unheated room.

Every March I repot them in fresh container mix, and put them into our polyhouse to start growing. By May they're ready to spend the summer outside again. It's a bit of trouble, but the lovely purple leaves and soft pink flowers are definitely worth the effort.

And did I mention that they increase every year? If you grow oxalis, you'll have twice as many each year - which means lots to share with your gardening friends.