Science Fair Project Plant Idea
Shady Gardens - Shady gardens
evoke mystery and privacy-- they feel peaceful and intimately enclosed
because of the coolness and dark colors. Sunny gardens, on the other hand,
give a sense of freedom, exuberance and activity. Science fair project
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A garden that offers only shade can be dull, and an entirely sunny garden can have a
tiring, draining effect. But when you have a juxtaposition of opposites,
the garden becomes dramatic with contrast. Picture yourself standing in a
sunny meadow, looking into shady woods dotted with small sunny glades.
This beckons you forward, to experience the damp coolness and the rich,
earthy smells. The promise of a shady copse will draw a visitor across a
sunny, hot lawn to explore the coolness. Once in the shade, sunny spots in
the distance lure you back to them. Science fair project ideas.
When planning a shade garden, it is necessary to consider the different types of shade
and plan accordingly.
Light shade assumes the garden receives shade for less than four hours each day. This
may be dappled shade where the sunlight filters in through a canopy of
small-leaved trees and moves around throughout the day. It may also be
cast by trees with high canopies or sparsely planted trees, giving a lot
of indirect light in addition to some direct sun. Most sun-loving plants
will do fine in this situation.
Partial or semi-shade assumes a half day of shade-- similar to an open
glade in the forest or the woods' edge. This type of shade may also occur
on an east- or west-facing slope or wall or in the shadow of a building.
Building shadows offer a slightly different situation than shade from
trees because even though sun may not reach the plants, the site can be
quite bright from reflected light. Science fair project plants.
Full shade occurs under dense canopies of deciduous or evergreen trees or on the
north wall of a building where there is no direct sun. Plant choice is
most critical in this situation since only limited plants will perform
well in such reduced light.
Soil moisture and pH will determine the final plant choices. Wet shade is much easier to
plan for than dry shade, which is a special challenge. Dry shade occurs
under trees with shallow, competitive roots such as Norway maple, beech,
poplar, willow, sycamore or in building shadows or overhangs where rain
doesn't reach. This situation calls for drought-tolerant plants or very
careful attention to watering.
The type of shade in a garden will often change with age, becoming more dense as trees
grow and shrubs fill in. Careful observation of the plants' health will
alert the gardener if the plants begin to languish and need to be moved.
Design principles, garden types
In order to
develop a garden that fits your time and energy, start with a small area
and increase gradually. Observing light patterns and degrees of shade can
help guide design and plant selection. The most effective and easily
maintained shade gardens imitate nature. Shade gardens are usually
designed to emphasize foliage textures, arrangements and contrasts rather
than flower colors since there is not as wide a range of plants that
flower in the shade.Science fair project plants.
Use patterns of shade on the ground and on tree trunks as part of your design. Moving
shade is a dynamic element, especially in juxtaposition to a dramatically
framed sunny area. Use silhouettes to create different feelings such as
the bulky strength of an oak or the thin grace of the willow. Let your bed
lines follow the dominant shade patterns.
Water features can emphasize the coolness of a woodland, particularly if the water is
trickling or falling gently. You should use caution if planning a still
pool, however, since such pools generally need full sun to maintain a
healthy balance of flora and fauna.
Architectural features such as pergolas, arbors and trellises can create shade where
there is none. Narrow slats or lath can reduce the sun by 50 percent,
providing plenty of shade for tender plants. Consider using a flagstone
terrace in the middle of a shady glade surrounded by woods and decorated
with pots of impatiens and caladiums.
Nature's shade gardens naturally occur as woodlands. Woodlands are stratified into
canopy, understory, shrub layer and herbaceous layer. This arrangement can
be mimicked to create a naturalistic shade garden, or you can use
whichever of these elements you choose to create your favorite style of
shade garden. Beyond this concept, use normal design standards for line,
form, shape, color, texture contrasts and complements and scale. Science
fair project ideas.
Natural woodland soils are rich and mildly acidic with a natural mulch. The soil
temperature remains fairly constant throughout the seasons, nutrients are
recycled readily and roots are fairly shallow because most of the
nutrients are in the top layer of humus. The tree canopy protects plants
from temperature extremes and hot dry winds, so the air temperature is
also fairly constant.
As a rule, shade gardens take no more care than sunny gardens. Of course, they must
be watered during dry spells, but they generally require less weeding
because low light levels discourage weed germination. Although they
frequently require less water, it is important to realize that they can
dry out as easily as sunny gardens. The secret, as with any garden, is to
water deeply yet less frequently. Science fair project plants.
There may be a few more problems with fungal diseases since reduced air movement and lack
of direct sun keeps the leaves moist, giving spores a perfect place to
take hold. As long as you prune the plants to keep the crowns open and
avoid planting too closely, the air will circulate easily and these risks
will be reduced. Slugs and snails will need to be controlled to avoid
Soil preparation is perhaps the single most important feature in planning. It
is crucial to avoid neglecting this step or cutting corners. The ideal
soil stays moist during dry periods but is well-drained with plenty of air
spaces. This is best achieved by the addition of organic matter. Most
ground covers and shrubs perform best with at least 6 inches of rich soil
that contains liberal organic matter.
Once in place, the plants must be mulched. Shredding and returning leaves as
fine-textured mulch will help the plants considerably.
If the existing shade is too deep, you can prune lower limbs from the larger
trees to increase circulation and brightness. Also, removing some trees
altogether will open a hole in the canopy, creating a sunny glade for
accent. It may be necessary to periodically remove branches to maintain
the shade garden as you want it instead of allowing natural succession.
If you have a situation with a lot of mature trees, there is not much you can do to turn
the soil under the trees because of the abundance of large roots. In order
to plant under a tree, add 2 to 3 inches of organic matter on top,
tapering it near the edge of the dripline and the trunk. Make certain to
avoid changing the grade or piling soil around the trunk. Some authorities
feel that if you are planting shrubs under trees, it is possible to carve
out a hole in tree roots, taking out fibrous feeder roots. Use this advice
cautiously because of the damage you may do to the trees. If they are
healthy and not stressed at all, they will probably recover. If the trees
are stressed, they will have a harder time recovering from the root
disturbance. Try to plant shrubs a distance away from the main root system
of trees. Strategically placing them can give the illusion that they are
planted right up to the trunks. Science fair project plants.
To reduce competition for water and nutrients, water deeply and fertilize more
frequently than you normally would, using the plants' appearance as
guidelines. Also, smaller shrubs naturally require less root area, and
deep-rooted trees such as oak and hickory will compete less.
An existing shady yard need not be a liability, but rather an opportunity to explore new
types of plants and a challenging situation that calls for careful plant
It is possible to plan for four seasons of interest even in the shady garden. Many
woodland wildflowers such as spring beauty and trillium bloom in spring
and set next year's flower buds before the canopy becomes dense.
Summer-blooming plants such as hosta, hydrangea, daylily and clethra add
sparkle to the midsummer shade garden. For fall, choose plants with vivid
foliage color or that bloom in fall such as anemone, aconite and autumn
crocus. Strongly architectural plants such as witchhazel and plants with
berries such as deciduous holly and cranberry viburnum add color and
texture through the winter. Science fair project plants.
Variegated foliage will brighten and lighten a shady area. Variegated plants should
generally be used as focal points rather than mixing many types of
variegation together to create a jumble of colors. Plants with white
variegation do well in shade although they will generally be
slower-growing than in sun; plants with yellow variegation maintain their
yellow color better in sun. The predominant color, of course, is green,
but foliage can range from the gray-green of lamium to the deep green of
English ivy to the yellow-green of Emerald 'n Gold wintercreeper. Bright
foliage often gives the appearance of a floral display. Choose plants that
have bold foliage such as rodgersia, ligularia and variegated aralia or
The following list is by no means complete, but is to start you thinking about planting
in the shade. It is important to read further about any plant you choose
to use, in order to understand its cultural requirements.
If possible, choose canopy trees that drop their leaves early and leaf out late to give
plants maximum sun when they need and can use it (spring and fall).
Small-leaved trees will let in more light throughout the summer.
Deep-rooted trees will give less competition for nutrients. Most canopy
trees perform best in full sun and are included here to give suggestions
for creating shade.
Vegetables – science fair project plants
Most vegetables will tolerate two to three hours of shade per day and can be
planted next to a white wall to reflect light. These include beets,
cabbage, carrots, chives, collards, kale, leeks, lettuce, mustard greens,
scallions, parsley, radishes, spinach, swiss chard and turnips.