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The Complete Shade Gardener

By George Schenk

Considered required reading for shade gardeners.

American Gardener

This classic and indispensable reference for shade gardening is now back in print. Long considered required reading for those with difficult low-light areas, it covers the basics literally from the ground up, leading the gardener through the creation of his or her own shady retreat. Part One concerns the art and science of a shade garden, from preparing the soil, to pruning, to considering different "shades of shade" (does your favorite bed lie in dappled shade or high shade?). Part Two, which details information on growing the plant, is neatly arranged in sections according to the type of plant. These descriptions are casual, to the point, and often humorous. The sago palm, for example, "will put you in touch with paleobotany." Selected photographs and line drawings both illustrate and inspire.

Awards for this book: American Horticultural Society 75 Great American Gardening Books

Media reviews

"I wish that I had had (this book) to advise me forty years ago when we bought our property ... (Schenk's) plant lists are valuable for gardeners everywhere–even in the desert."

—John R. Dunmire, Pacific Horticulture

"This is the classic reference for shade gardening."

Alberta Gardener

"This well–done book is written with knowledge and understanding. It is the best shade gardening book I've ever read."

—Natalie Walsh, Schenectady Daily Gazette

"An exceptional, well-written and organized guide to shade gardening for atmosphere, beauty, and personal satisfaction ... An excellent gardening resource and a welcome, practical, highly recommended addition to personal and professional gardening reference collections."

Library Bookwatch

"The bilssful charm and grace of easeful green shade is echoed in the casual, lighthearted humour of the author's approach."

—Helen Chesnut, Victoria Times Colonist

"Schenk writes as though he is talking to you, and encourages you to use the necessary sequence of steps for success."

—Marty Figley, Michigan Observer and Eccentric

"The author's down-to-earth approach is not only highly credible, but also very entertaining."

—Marge Howard-Jones, California Garden

"Long considered required reading for shade gardeners, this classic reference has been recognized by the American Horticulture Society as one of the '75 Great American Garden Books.'"

American Gardener

"My first introduction to gardening for interest other than flowers. I'll always remember his comment about arranging a garden as though it were a party with plants and to make it look like all the plants are having fun."

—Victoria Shallow, Spring Affair News

"A wonderfully written encyclopedia of shade plants."

—George Graine, Virginia Master Gardeners Association Report

"A treasure."


"This book is a practical guide to planting a shade garden, but goes beyond that to help the gardener make the results aesthetically pleasing."

—Barbara Joe Hoshizaki, Los Angeles International Fern Society Journal

"Has a huge amount of information well written by someone with obvious hands-on experience."


"Having grown several thousand plants in his New Zealand and North American gardens, the author's down-to-earth approach is not only highly credible, but also very entertaining."

—Marge Howard-Jones, California Garden

"This classic reference book for shade gardens is very comprehensive."

—Bobbie Schwartz, Buckeye

About the author

George Schenk

A former nurseryman and landscaper, George Schenk retired from business to pursue his passions of designing and planting gardens and writing about them. His Moss Gardening won the Garden Writers Association Award for Excellence; his The Complete Shade Gardener has been recognized as one of the 75 Great American Garden Books. He lives in Washington state.

Read more about George Schenk

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