We gardeners often want what we don’t have: If our gardens are sunny, we long for shady retreats. Conversely, those who have shady yards yearn for sunshine. While some might feel a sunny garden is more visually appealing, a shade garden can be just as delightful and welcoming.

Merilee Dinneen has found that to be the case with her South Hill garden. Surrounded by tall pines, maples and other shade-producing trees, she has learned how to embrace those conditions.

“A shade garden is – literally – a cooler thing,” she said. “The shade makes it more comfortable outside and all of the colors of the plants look brighter in the shade.”

Dinneen is a Spokane County emeritus Master Gardener, having volunteered for an impressive 25 years. Gardening is an important aspect of her life.

“There’s just something about growing things and getting your fingernails dirty,” she said. “I love creating and seeing something come of it. Gardening is nature and it’s beauty.”

She has lived in her home for 30 years and has noticed just how large the surrounding tree canopy has become.

“The amount of sun we used to have in our yard is lost,” she said. “That kind of forced me into shade gardening. You might think you could create some sunny areas by chopping down some trees, but there are still the neighboring trees and street trees that are so tall.”

Even so, her back garden receives morning sunlight which lights up the plantings in addition to creating a pleasing dappled effect in the shadier areas. On her back patio, Dinneen has a small splashing water feature. She finds it adds a cooling effect and dampens a bit of the neighborhood noise.