carderockmapOne must make decisions with any garden – what to plant, where, and when. If possible, plant deciduous trees to shade the house in the summer and to allow the sun to warm it in the winter. Use evergreen trees and shrubs on the perimeter of the property for privacy and as a backdrop for flowering shrubs and plants. Avoid blocking windows so that light and air may enter. The police recommend avoiding high dense shrubs near the house because criminals seek such hiding places in order to accost homeowners.

When planting trees and shrubs, call “Miss Utility” at 1-800-257- 7777 first to be sure you wont hit electric, telephone, gas or cable lines. Hitting a line could be dangerous, even fatal. Most of us have underground utility lines. However, a few Carderock homes are on roads with overhead wires so when planting, look up. The tree you plant may reach those wires in a few years and the utility people are at liberty to cut off the top. It is important to learn not only how high a tree or shrub will be at maturity but also how wide. It’s hard to believe that the small tree you planted will grow up and out, but it will all too quickly, if in the wrong place. If your home is surrounded by mature trees and there is shade everywhere, that can be an advantage. To lessen the shade, remove lower branches from most trees. However, magnolias and other trees whose beauty and form are enhanced by limbs touching the ground should be left alone. Some trees are considered “weed trees” and should be removed. Silver maples and wild cherries are examples. Other trees may be removed to give specimen trees more room to grow. All dead and diseased branches should be cut off.

There are degrees of shade. Densely shaded areas receive no sun and few plants will grow. In medium shade areas there would be only a few hours of sun. Light shade areas receive morning sun only or perhaps only filtered light all day. However, there are bulbs, flowers, shrubs and ground covers that will tolerate shade and some will bloom even in dense shade.

Narcissus and tulips are the better known bulbs but there are many other kinds of spring bulbs. These may be planted under deciduous trees because they will bloom after the trees leaf out.

Azaleas and rhododendrons are wonderful plants. They like shade and acid soil and do better when planted away from the house. In full sun, azaleas tend to develop spider mites, a real problem. Rhododendrons appreciate even heavier shade than azaleas. There are other evergreen shrubs that thrive in shade that may be planted by the house – mahonia, leucothoe, pieris, aucuba and nandinas to name a few. These lend themselves to pruning when necessary.


“The development with all the trees” is the way many people characterize Carderock Springs. We are indeed fortunate that the planners and developer cared enough to save a large number of the existing trees. Our covenants even require approval by the Architectural Review Committee before one can remove a “sound hardwood tree”. The excellent cooperation by the citizens of Carderock Springs in 1989 to fight the tree-killing gypsy moth demonstrated that nearly all of the residents care about their trees.

Besides their natural beauty, trees offer many benefits to the home owner. They act as a buffer against traffic noise. They soften the straight lines of our houses. They provide food and shelter for birds and small animals such as squirrels. They al:so help us to save energy; deciduals shade homes in the summer and evergreens block winds in the winter. The ideal situation is to have deciduals on the southern side of one’s house. Their leaves block the hot summer sun, and after dropping in the fall, aliow the winter sun to shine through to warm the house. The American Forestry Association estimates that trees increase property value by more than $10,500 for each quarter-acre lot. One might want to keep that figure in minds the next time one is raking leaves.

The focus of the accompanying list is to make us more aware of the variety of trees that are growing around us and to select some of the more perfect singular specimens known as exemplars. We do not mean to imply that groups or clusters are not desirable nor attractive, for indeed there are more clusters of trees in Carderock Springs than there are singular ones. Some specimens were found only in groups. It is hoped that those homeowners fortunate enough to have one or more exemplars in their yard will make sure that they are protected and that the root areas are not damaged by mowers etc. We plan to label the listed trees next spring. We did not have time to cover Carderock Springs South.

We thank Bill Nopper, Nature Facility Supervisor, and naturalist Helene Halushynsky from the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission for helping us with their expertise.


  • APPLE crab8026 POD 8503 FR CSD & RR 8201 FR 8308 FR
  • ASH7504 HSR 7811HSR
  • BAMBOO8200 LSD 8009 GSR
  • BEECH8117 HSR 8428MMC 8326 SSC 7700 GSW
  • BIRCH grey8101 GSR 7714 GSW 8601 FR 8408MMC 8000 GSR
  • BIRCH yellow8425MMC
  • CATALPA northern8404 PP
  • CEDAR blue8408 PP
  • CHERRY black8046 POD 7508 HSR 8203 LSD 8221 LSD 8009 HSR
  • DOGWOOD flowering 7704 GSW 8608 SSC 8600 FR 8004 FR 7000 BWC
  • ELM slippery1 CCT 8313 CD
  • GUM sweet7811 HSR 7508 HSR 8105 HSR 8409 MMC 8013 GSR
  • HEMLOCK eastern7701 HSR 8047 POD 8005 FR
  • HICKORY pignut8113 POD 8600 FR 8113HSD
  • HICKORY shagbark8425MMC
  • HOLLY american7614 HSR 8103 FR 8600 FR 8105 FR CIRC STD
  • HORNBEAM american 8416 MMC PRKG CSD
  • LOCUST black8221 LSD 8311 LSD 7701 HSR
  • LOCUST honey8215 STD
  • MAGNOLIA southern 8203 LSD 8413 PP 8408MMC 8226 STD 8301 CD
  • MAPLE Japanese8000 POD 7711 GSW 8224 FR 8105 HSR
  • MAPLE Norway7904 LSD
  • MAPLE red7903 POD 7808 HSR 8503 FR
  • MAPLE silver8602 HSR 8023 FR 8608 FR
  • MAPLE sugar8015 GSR 8409 FR
  • MIMOSA8035 POD 7701 HSR
  • OAK black8209 FR 8408 MMC 8609 FR
  • OAK pin7508 HSR 8115 LSD 8119 LSD 8203 LSD 8208 LSD
  • OAK red7510 HSR 8508 HSR 8216 LSD 8017 FR 8224 LSD
  • OAK scarlet8104FR
  • OAK white7403 HSR 8 POC 8412 MMC 7615PTL 3 POC
  • OAK willow8205 LSD 8300 LSD 8011 FR 8212 HSC 7705 HSR
  • PERSIMMON8311 LSD 8304 CD 7801 PTL
  • PINE Virginia7913 POD 8200 HSC
  • PINE whiteCIRC MMC CIRC SSC 8113 FR 8011 FR 7904 HSR
  • POPLAR yellowftulip) 8117 HSR 8424 MMC 8316 FR 8105 FR 8324 FR
  • REDCEDAR eastern7805 HSR 7802 HSR 8008 FR 8600 LSD 8009 HSR
  • REDBUD eastern8310 SSC 8409 MMC 8012 HSR
  • SASSAFRAS7715 GSW 7805 HSR 8319 LSD
  • SPRUCE blue 8000 POD 8229 STD 8228 STD 8105 HSR 8229 STD
  • SPRUCE norway 8212 HSC 7904 HSR 7604 HSR 8417 MMC 8229 STD
  • SUMMAC staghorn 8205 HSC
  • SYCAMORE 7914 POD 8328 FR PRKG CSD 8417 FR(opp)
  • TUPELO black (gum) 7916 FR 8074 POD
  • WILLOW weeping 7704 HSR 7501 HSR 8121 LSD



Evergreen trees that prefer shade are yews and hemlocks. Yews come in various forms – spreading, upright and dwarf. Hemlocks can be pruned into hedges or left as specimen trees. Hollies – and there are many kinds – tolerate light shade. Almost all are unisexual and for the female tree to produce berries a male tress must be near. Osmanthus resembles holly. It has small but fragrant flowers In October.

Other kinds of evergreens like sun – pines, spruces, cedars, junipers – and they too have many varieties. Arborvitae is another sun-loving evergreen. They and junipers tend to develop bagworms which can be controlled by hand picking and destroying. Leiand cypress has the advantage of being pest-free and although it matures at around 75 feet high, it remains narrow, less than 12 feet in spread. It, too, needs sun.

Among shade-loving deciduous shrubs are vibernums which bloom in the spring and hydrangeas which bloom in the summer. There are many varieties of both. Viburnum caricephalum has a spicy fragrance. Hydrangea macrophylla “Nikko Blue” is especially colorful. Hydrangea Quercifolia (oakleaf hydrangea) has large white flower head and its leaves turn dark red. Fothergila is another shrub recommended for our area. Clethra ainifolia (sweet pepper bush) is a summer bloomer.

Comus florida (dogwood) is native to our area. However a virus called “anthracnose” is attacking them and so far is unable to be controlled. Comus kousa seems resistant. It has the same kind of flowers but they are on the top of the branches and it blooms after the native dogwoods. These are “understory trees” and should not be planted in full sun although the kousas bloom more heavily with about four to six hours of sun.

Shade-loving flowering perennials are numerous. Of course most do even better with sun. Hemerocallls (daylillies) are fine in light shade. The period of bloom can be extended for weeks by careful selection. Two that are repeat bloomers and bloom into fall are “Stella D’Oro” and “Bitsy”. Hostas thrive though they must be protected against slugs which love them.

A late summer -early fall one is “Royal Standard” which has white fragrant blossoms and seems far more resistant to slugs. Helleborus orientalis (Lenten Rose) is another and is easier to grow. Brunnera macrophylla whose flowers resemble forget-me-nots has large attractive leaves as well.

Anemones hupehensis (Japanese anemone) are fall bloomers. Sedum “Autumn Joy” which will stand some shade Is delightful and long-lasting in the fall. Another fall flower is aconitum (Monkshood). Lobelia cardinalis has brilliant red flowers but is relatively short lived. Its blooms should not be picked but if the plant is happy it will self sow. It likes moisture and light shade. Another spectacular plant is the Iris kaempferi (Japanese Iris). It thrives in acid soil and loves wet feet. Monarda (beebalm) takes light shade, is an early summer bloomer and attracts hummingbirds as does Lobelia cardinalis. Aquilegia canadensis (Canadian columbine), Astilbe Primula (primrose), Heuchera (coral bells) all do well in shade as do Cimicifuga (Snakeroot), Chelone (turtle head), Dicentra spectabilis (large bleeding heart), Dicentra eximia which is smaller but blooms off and on all summer, and Tiarella cordifolia (foam flower). Arisaema triphyllum (jack in the pulpit) has an interesting bloom but its main attraction is a stalk of flaming red berries in the fail. It will grow in medium to dense shade. Begonia grandis is a shade-loving begonia that is a perennial.

As for ground covers and edgings there are many. Ajuga (bugleweed), Ceratostigma (leadwort) a fall bloomer, Convallaria (lily of the valley) Epimedium – a delight as an edging, Hedera helix (English ivy), Pachasandra where all else fails is well behaved, Liriope muscari (lily turf) and Asperula odorata (sweet woodruff) all do well. Phlox divaricata (woodland phlox) although rabbit’s favorite food, is lovely in the spring.

The ubiquitous Impatiens with its many colors is the best annual for shade. It selfsows frequently, is colorful, and doesnt require care. Begonia semperflorous (wax begonia) is not quite as colorful but also may be ignored. Coleus is a reliable, primarily a foliage plant, but its foliage comes in many color combinations. The above trees, shrubs, and flowers are only a partial sampling of plant materials useful in shade gardens and represent some of the ones I have in our garden and find desirable.

Mulching is the greatest favor one can give a garden. Mulch makes for more consistent temperatures. It preserves moisture and coolness in the summer and helps prevent weeds. By adding more mulch once there is a heavy freeze one helps offset the alternating freezing and thawing that can occur in our winters. In eariy spring, the mulch can be worked into the soil loosening and enriching it. Once summer starts, a layer of mulch should be added and the procedure started anew. Christmas trees cut up and placed over perennials protect them over the winter as do fallen leaves. However both evergreen branches and dead leaves should be removed gradually in March as insects and diseases may thrive beneath them.