Walkway Garden

(Question)

I’m looking for some flower/plant ideas for this little walkway on the side of the house. Last year I put some impatiens that grew for a bit and then started to collapse, I found out of the fungus latter. I’m looking for something colorful possibly…the walkway is facing north/south and another house is next to it so I don’t get too much sun, maybe an hour. I’m enclosing pictures… left the green bin there to give you an idea of the width. The blue bin is a medium one not the large one. I would estimate the length to be 12-15 feet. If you have ideas of something that comes back every year that will be fine too as its hard to plant on your knees and its low. Enclosing pictures Thank you very much.

(Answer)

Finding plants that will provide colour in a restricted area that gets minimal sun is a challenge. Fortunately, there are a few perennial plants that could be successful if the soil in that area was a moisture-retentive, but well-drained soil with lots of organic material (compost) in it. [It appears that there are shrubs or small standards at the ends of the area and that the area is covered with gravel–if so, you may need to remove some of that before you add more soil]. Soil quality and consistency is perhaps the most important aspect to consider when planting perennials.

Some suggestions that would grow well with those conditions and provide texture and some colour in that space would be Hostas, which are great foliage plants with varying shades of green and variegation, Brunnera macrophylla which have tiny blue forget-me-not type flowers in the spring, and possibly some Male ferns, Dryopteris filix-mas. Given the brick wall that you have, you might also consider an English ivy, Hedera helix or even a climbing hydrangea, Hydrangea anomala subsp. petiolaris or a Japanese climbing hydrangea, Schizophragma hydrangeoides. The ivy & hydrangeas would adhere to and grow up the brick wall.

All of these plants would be low-maintenance; the hostas, brunnera and ferns would die back in the late fall and could be cut back then or in the early spring before the new growth emerges; the vines would need minimal pruning to deal with possible winter dieback and to maintain a good shape.

These are just a few suggestions. For information about other plants that would do well in shady conditions, please check this Gardening Guide: https://www.torontomastergardeners.ca/gardeningguides/perennials-for-shade-in-dry-or-moist-areas-a-toronto-master-gardeners-guide/.

For more information about some of the suggested plants, please see:

Brunnera macrophylla:  https://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?kempercode=a210

Hydrangea anomalahttps://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?kempercode=d370

Schizophragma hydrangeoideshttps://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?kempercode=f520

Good luck with improving the walkway area of your house with some perennial plants.