July 29, 2017
A bed on one side of our house gets shade for most of the day but then, in summer, a big blast of intense late-afternoon light for 2-3 hours. Any advice on what perennials or flowering shrubs might do well here?
My guess is that in addition to 2-3 hours of intense light, you get pretty bright filtered light for another 2-3 hours or more. If that is the case, you should be able to grow a wide variety of plants. Loropetalum is a spring blooming evergreen which comes in a wide variety of mature sizes and does well in full sun to partial shade. It has purple foliage and pink flowers, or a green leafed variety with white flowers. Abelia is an old-fashioned evergreen which should do well in your situation and blooms all summer. Althea or rose-of-Sharon will do well, along with clethra and itea (deciduous mid-summer and late spring/summer bloomers). For perennials I think you should do well with coneflowers, Joe pye weed, daylilies, asters, rudbeckia and salvias. I think you have plenty of options.
This spring I planted a false spirea -- Astilbe japonica variety Red Sentinel. Can you tell me something about its care? Do I prune it or cut it back to the ground at some point, and if so, when?
Astilbe plants are often touted as shade perennials, but they do best in light shade. They prefer a rich garden soil with ample moisture with defused sunlight or morning sun and afternoon shade. Rarely will you see good blooms in heavy shade. Astilbes are deciduous and will die back to the soil line after a hard freeze. You can cut back the old foliage then, or leave the dried flower heads for winter interest and clean them up as new growth is beginning in the spring.
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