Look at this big leaf. You could use it for a blanket! This is Petasites. It is a perennial plant that literally, and even in our climate, grow these huge-sized leaves from the ground in one season.
It needs the shade and lots of moisture to thrive and it can spread, so be careful where you plant it.
There are other big leaf plants that you can try, too. This is the umbrella plant which has similar type of large leaves, but it grows more in a cluster than spreading all over the place, and the leaves have a nice frill to their edges to them.
Then, of course there are hostas. This 'Blue Angel' is one of the large-leafed hostas that everyone recognizes and knows. If you are looking for a hosta that has more of a lime green color, and big leaves, 'Sum and Substance' is the classic. It's very familiar to many people with its huge leaves. It fills up underneath the tree readily and has a nice bright color, so it adds a little lightness to this shady spot.
Finally there's taro. It's not hardy in this climate but you can grow it as an annual and it has those beautiful arrow-shaped leaves. Some of the leaves are speckled with red and have a nice red stem too. They're not going to flower much, but they're really grown more for leaf shape.
So by using big leaves, and different-shaped leaves in your garden, you can really create a dramatic effect in a shade garden, and not have to rely on plants with flowers all the time.
By Charlie Nardozzi
PO Box 4508