Canadian horticulturist Arlene Welsh will be giving a lecture on producing a thriving shade garden May 10 at the Burgess-Shadbush Nature Center in Shelby Township.

Canadian horticulturist Arlene Welsh will be giving a lecture on producing a thriving shade garden May 10 at the Burgess-Shadbush Nature Center in Shelby Township.

Photo provided by Arlene Welsh

Gardeners Club to present lecture on producing a thriving shade garden

By: Joshua Gordon | Shelby - Utica News | Published April 30, 2018


SHELBY TOWNSHIP — Spring is here, and those looking to plant seeds for their annual gardens may have already hit the dirt.

But what if the spot you want to put a garden happens to get very little sunlight? Horticulturist Arlene Welsh is here to help.

Welsh will be giving a lecture on principles and plants to use when designing a shade garden at 1 p.m. May 10 at the Burgess-Shadbush Nature Center, 4101 River Bends Drive in Shelby Township. The free event is part of the Shelby Township Gardeners Club’s lecture series.

“You have to know where sunlight will be, because you will get some, and plan what you are going to plant,” Welsh said of a shade garden. “If you have shorter trees, you plant those first, followed by some shrubs. And then you think about grasses and textures and things that can survive and thrive in the shade.”

Welsh is a retired teacher and said she dabbled in gardening for the 20 years she lived in downtown Windsor, Ontario, Canada. But it wasn’t until she moved just outside of Windsor in 1988 that she really started to hone her craft.

The house she moved to had a bare lot, so she had a “clean slate” to work with. Plus, the house backed up to a river, which provided a lot of water for keeping a garden alive.

Welsh said she thought she could always have something growing between late March and late November, but she soon found that she had to contend with evergreen trees, which provide one of the worst kinds of shade in dry shade.

So, Welsh said she did a lot of research, read a lot of books, and took part in a lot of trial and error to find what worked.

“I did an awful lot of research, and there are all kinds of lists of specific plants that do grow and thrive in shade as long as you know what to look for,” she said. “One thing leads to another in gardening, and if you follow your nose and eyes, it is a wonderful hobby.”

Welsh said she has put together a PowerPoint presentation to go through her research on how to grow a shade garden. She said she hopes to have the conversation going for about an hour.

The Shelby Township Gardeners Club was started in the mid-1970s and is a volunteer service organization for the community. Club representative Ivy Schwartz said that the club is responsible for planting Heritage Gardens on the township grounds, which is a location that many use to take photos for weddings and proms.

Schwartz thinks that there will be a lot of interest in Welsh’s lecture, because a lot of people struggle to find something to grow in shady areas.

“It is important to not only have plants that survive, but thrive,” she said. “You see a plant in a nursery and you love it, but you put it in the wrong spot. Shade gardens don’t get the heat from the sun, but there is a great variety of things you can plant that will thrive in the shade and create color.”

There is no reservation required for the event and it is open to the general public. The lecture is free, but the Gardeners Club does ask for donations. For more information about the club, visit