The north side will be mostly shaded by the house and two large elm trees. It can be unirrigated and dry, or it can be irrigated easily by a nearby hose. It could even at some point be irrigated by kitchen greywater, but that's a whole nuther project.
What would you plant there? Is there some kind of vine that might enjoy starting in the shade and climbing up the tanks to get a little more sun? Pretty flowers and/or fruit would be a bonus, as this will be somewhat visible from the house.
I'd recommend going with a vine berry, just for the fruit.
To much sun and raspberries/blackberries burn up. However, raspberries/blackberries do have some maintence to them, even if you get the thornless varieties, tellis' them for support would be a good idea so that wind or a heavy rain doesn't beat them down, cutting back the old vines every year for most of the, etc. And they do like water.
There's Kiwi's, which are always interesting.
But probably best might be a grape. Some are okay with shade, drought hardy, cold hardy for most varieties, and a lot of them don't tolerate wet soil. Tho you have to check for self-fertile/cultivars.
Something you might consider, for the same reasons that a water cistern can provide a warmer microclimate in winter, can it also create a cooler microclimate in summer?
I'm on my third year of trying to grow runner beans and so far I've had very mixed results. If the current attempt doesn't work, I think I may try growing them by our cistern next year. Thank you for the inspiration.
Cautiously consider passionfruit like the tropical lilikoi or maypop that is native to north America. Chinese magnilia vine is another great option. I do strongly suggest that they be isolated if you plant them where they will be perenial by either using a large pot and dripper or having an unirrigated grass or dry pathway bordering them. Using a tropical non perennial and bringing a couple specimen inside for the winter is probably the safest bet to be safest from them becoming invasive. Chinese magnilia vine is very invasive and hardy so use extreme caution when planning it's location. These plants are very desireable and well worth the efforts to try growing them. Passionfruit is extremely flavorful and sour if you enjoy such flavors. I am currently growing them as a hanging basket in my window. Chinese magnilia is called five flavor because it is sweet, tart, salty, bitter, and delicious. It is extremely nutritious and one of the esential Chinese medical herbs.
One thing that does well in dry shady conditions is HOSTA. When I was working as a landscaper that was our go to plant for ground cover. What I didn't know then is that the young shoots are edible and taste like Asparagus.
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Heat your home with the twigs that naturally fall of the trees in your yard