With a shady garden, summer evenings (when you finally have time to sit back and relax) can be a mixed blessing. You’re not baking in the sun’s glare but lengthening shadows can fade bright flowers, shrubs, and lawns into a cool but disappointing dullness.
Many a garden design guide will recommend white flowers and plants with variegated foliage to add some liveliness to a garden in the gloom–even a moonlit one. But I’m loving the more intriguing qualities of summer-loving plants that look frosted. For that, fancy leaf begonias are a great option.
The Rex begonias from the Shadow King series were a big hit at garden centres last year in Southern Ontario, particularly for gardeners wanting an alternative to downy mildew-suffering Impatiens. Rex Begonia Shadow King Cool White, with velvety leaves that look covered in snow, is an annual strong enough in the looks department to merit its own container.
But for shadow-busting shimmer, the new Pegasus™ Begonia hybrid, available for the first time this year (2015) in Canada, is a must-have. The deep green and grey leaves are glossy with a remarkable silver overlay. In contrast, the stems and the undersides of the leaves are a ruddy wine-red. With an upright habit that forms a high, rounded mound, this elegant annual does more than brighten up a dark corner, it makes that corner a focal point.
Though Pegasus can make an excellent ‘thriller’ in a combination container, I think it looks best on its own, growing up to 16″ tall and 18″ wide. Place it in a partly shaded or fully shaded spot and make sure to water it regularly. Though regular fertilization is recommended, I never did while trialling this plant last year, and it kept looking terrific all season long–even outshining the mighty Rexes.