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A Shady Backyard in Skokie, Ilionois

In late April of 2012 Gerry's backyard appears bright and sunny. That is because the trees have not leafed-out yet. When they do, which will happen shortly, the backyard will be swathed in shade.

We put little features here and there around the yard. This gives it interest and appeal before the plants start coming up.

Wild Columbine, Aquilegia canadensis (left), is native to this area. Hi shas red and yellow flowers, grows in full sun to shady woodlands, is about one to three feet tall and likes it on the drier side. I have seen it growing in the sand dunes of Indiana. It flowers provide nectar for Hummingbirds as they make their migration northward.

Wild Stonecrop, Sedum ternatum (right), is a short sedum native to the drier woods. It is very short and has beautiful white flowers that bloom early and spread easily.

Gerry (left) and his buddy Toby (right) [don't get them mixed up] enjoy their time in the backyard/

Bellwort or Merrybells, Uvularia grandifloria, has really nice yellow flowers with twisted petals. It flowers early, is one to two feet tall, likes average soil conditions and sun to shade.

This large grand old Silver Maple provides shade for the entire yard after it leafs out. It has great structure and character but, unfortunately, it is declining and won't be around much longer.

I am frequently asked what makes "good groundcover". I don't like referring to plants as groundcover -- to me groundcover implies asphalt or cement. The plants I like that cover large areas in the woods are the Common Violets, Viola species (left), and Sweet Cicely, Osmorhiza claytonii (right), which is one to two feet tall, have pretty white small flowers and roots that smell like licorice.

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