Woodland Garden Updates – Ideas Needed!

This spring has seen some major changes in our woodland border – the long-overdue removal of three large Bradford pear trees.

Taken exactly 5 years ago, this shows the three Bradford pear trees in full bloom

We inherited them and used them as a starting point for this entire border, underplanting with Japanese maples, adding columnar Swedish aspens and planting the banks of our seasonal stream with moisture loving favorites.

With the Bradford pear trees removed we can now see the structure of the columnar Swedish aspens we planted

It will be another few weeks before this area looks its springtime best, but as I was working there this weekend I became aware of three areas that need re-planting and would love your creative ideas! I'll go through each of the areas in turn and show you photos but here are a few basics to keep in mind:

General Criteria

  • Hardy in zone 6b
  • Plants need to be
    • drought tolerant once established
    • deer-resistant
    • low maintenance
    • tolerant of voles and moles – they wreak havoc in this area!

Area 1

Area 1: a columnar barberry was removed from the left side of this entrance. What shall I plant here?

We often enter the woodland border from this direction so it is an important statement opportunity.

Area 1

I'm leaning towards a mounding evergreen that will hide the faucet and balance the vertical forms. The gate can be moved as needed – it's just pushed into the soil. Key Facts:
  • Space is approximately 3-feet square
  • Receives full morning sun but is then shaded by trees after ~1pm.
  • Nearby: Midwinter Fire dogwood with a gorgeous red maple behind and to the left and golden locust tree behind faucet.
  • Soil: average, moisture retentive but can be wet in winter although not for long periods
My ideas:
  • Rhododendron or azalea (but historically these have not done well for me due to lack of regular summer water)
  • Drooping fetterbush – maybe Scarletta? The spotted lungwort under the white-barked Himalayan birch is so pretty I think the Rainbow variety might be too much.
  • Kalmia – these don't seem to do well here
  • Andromeda – Flaming Silver? Would that variegation balance the white bark??
Your ideas? I'll insert these here as you leave me comments 🙂
  • Picea abies 'Tompa' with Mukdenia in front – nice ideas! Spruce could work – but rabbits would destroy Mukdenia sadly
  • Oak leaf hydrangea (white flowers to echo bark) – oh nice!
  • Birchleaf spirea with white flowers – love this too. Maybe the variety Glow Girl?
  • Group of orange hair sedge – I've had mixed success with this in my garden. Lovely but short term.
  • Hardy geraniums – got plenty of those I can use!
  • Heptacodium (go for symmetry) – ooh nice! And I have one waiting for a new home as it happens!!
  • Miniature Moss False Cypress to repeat golden tones of the snowberry – love this idea but maybe go bigger with Juniper 'Daub's Frosted'?
  • Blue Star juniper – I do have a couple that need transplanting into a sunnier spot so that may be just the ticket!

Area 2

There is a narrow planting strip – on the right of the following photo, that is really key.

Area 2: the narrow planting strip on the right side of the photo.

When you enter the woodland by the tall blue-green urn this is the view you have:

Area 2: the narrow strip seen as you cross this bridge. I need something to 'stop the eye'

Clearly I need to distract from the "scrub" on the property boundary. I'm thinking something tall and columnar. Could be evergreen or deciduous/herbaceous since this border is rarely entered during winter. I tried Karl Foerster grasses but they didn't like the wet feet in winter or amount of shade. Neither Oregon grape nor barberries don't do well here due to wet winter soil (and I mean really saturated) and even Fine Line buckthorn wasn't happy. Key Facts
  • Area is ~ 6 feet x 2 feet
  • In winter soil can become saturated for days at a time
  • Major deer pressure
  • This is in dappled morning light with some direct sun around midday then shaded by conifers i.e. tricky!
My ideas Your ideas?
  • Joe Pye Weed with lambs ears at base: LOVE the idea of Joe Pye Weed – even the dwarf version 'Little Joe' which would be less floppy. Not sure lambs ears would tolerate the soggy soil but I do have some elsewhere in the garden and could try that in drier, sunny areas
  • Aconitum – love this perennial! Need to research to see if it can tolerate wet winter feet though :). Do Have a young grandaughter to consider so the fact that this is so poisonous makes me think it may not be the best choice by an entry point
  • Clethra – GREAT idea! Just need to check it wont encroach on the path way. Beautiful shrub though
  • Cardinal flower – I'd forgotten about this one – good call
  • Button bush – Hmm I have Fiber Optic on order as it happens… It is too wide for this space – BUT I intend to plant it nearby 🙂
  • Swamp azaleas – had to look this one up LOL! Nice idea  – but probably too wide right here
  • Canna – great form but probably too tropical for an entry into a woodland garden
  • Cornus sanguinea 'Compressa' – I hadn't heard of this one either!
  • Primula japonica – I certainly need more of these but probably need more structure in this particular area

Area 3

Area 3: having removed a sickly David viburnum I have space to play around this weathered vessel!

I'm not sure if the herbaceous ferns I have here will emerge but let's assume this spot is entirely empty. I probably need to move them anyway. I need something to fill in the area and frame the urn. It's quite a prominent spot on the woodland walk.

Area 3: is the area behind the weathered urn. That's a golden full moon maple in the center of the photo, just starting to leaf out. English bluebells are clustered at its base. Other plants visible include a wide, low holly, Rainbow drooping fetterbush and a struggling rhododendron with gorgeous purple on the undersides of its leaves.

Key Facts:
  • The area is ~ 4 feet by 6 feet.
  • Plants need to be <3 feet tall due to low branches of maple tree
  • Rabbits seem to love this area – ugh.
  • Average, moisture retentive soil but can be dry in summer
  • Dappled morning sun with some direct sun between 11am and 1pm. It may well receive some late afternoon sun now the pear trees have gone – hoping my golden full moon maples can withstand the change!
  • Can't get a large root ball established here due to tree roots
My ideas:

I usually cut the flowering stems down on my Axminster Gold comfrey as I prefer the basal foliage

Your ideas? I'm all ears!
  • Lungwort  – yes I have plenty of this I could transplant here.
  • Mayapples (Podophyllum) interplanted with Tiarella – nice ideas but sadly rabbits have eaten both of these in my garden. Ugh.
  • Miniature Moss False Cypress – as with Area 1 I like this idea but might g larger and use Juniper 'Daub's Frosted' as I love the golden tips on the bluish foliage. I think it may well have enough sun with the Bradford pears gone.
Please drop your ideas into the comments so I can add them into the post. We can all brainstorm together. Thank you so much.

Subscribe to Receive Blog Posts

Gardening inspiration delivered right to your inbox from Le Jardinet

   

Dreary Rental to Secluded Retreat: Front Garden Transformation

May 11 2021

Renovating a neglected rental property into a functional and comfortable home was a significant challenge, but one that that these young homeowners, Katie and Evan were up to. Both trained as architects, they knew what to look for, what they were getting into, and understood that this was going to be a long term project.…
Read More

Family garden makeover

Apr 27 2021

2020 had many of us re-defining what was important. With movements and social interactions severely reduced, our homes became far more than just a place to eat and sleep, but also an office,  a home schooling center, and often a necessary oasis from the chaotic world beyond our borders. When a lovely family in Snohomish,…
Read More

The Art of Spring Bulb Displays

Apr 13 2021

Spring is season of promise. Cherry trees and magnolias are in full bloom, baby lambs and goats frolic in green pastures, and our favorite spring bulbs put on their annual display in a rainbow of colors. I recently enjoyed a visit to a client's garden that was a true delight with hundreds of daffodils, species…
Read More

When good plants go bad

Mar 16 2021

I have always loved the pristine white bark of the Himalayan white birch (Betula utilis var. jacquemontii) and it was an obvious choice to anchor the far end of our island bed  where it was highly visible from many vantage points. When a colleague offered me two more I created a small grove of these,…
Read More

Color-Changing Evergreens

Feb 16 2021

Funnily enough, no-one has ever asked me to design a high maintenance garden, yet there is a common misconception that low maintenance translates to an endless row of boxwood or a border entirely devoted to rhododendrons. While these may be easy care they certainly won’t win any design awards. Yet evergreen trees and shrubs are…
Read More

Design Evolution: doing it your way

Feb 2 2021

As an independent designer I'm in the fortunate position of being able to design gardens that will be professionally installed by my recommended contractors*, by the homeowners themselves, or even by another preferred and local-to-the-site contractor. (*I never accept a referral fee so my recommendation is  based on the fact that they always do outstanding…
Read More

New Year, New Vintage(s)

Jan 19 2021

It's no secret that I enjoy a glass of wine in the garden. So imagine my excitement when I received an email from Proven Winners a few days ago, where the word "wine" appeared SEVEN times in just a few short paragraphs! Naturally they knew they would have my attention, so as I continued to…
Read More

From My Garden to Yours

Dec 22 2020

May the true spirit of Christmas shine in your heart and light your path. From my garden to yours xx  
Read More

Gifts for Adventurous Gardeners (& More)

Dec 8 2020

How much more STUFF do we need anyway? This year has changed my shopping habits. I visit stores as infrequently as possible and when I do it's because I need to hand pick something specific. Most of my purchases have been made online, whether  a wetsuit or new walking shoes. With the Holidays just around…
Read More

Reflections on Thankfulness

Nov 24 2020

Thanksgiving is going to look different for most of us this year. Rather than a large gathering with family and friends and the table groaning under the weight of an excess of delicious dishes, there will just be the two of us (plus an ever-hopeful pup!) and a simplified meal. In fact if the weather…
Read More

Welcome to My Garden Adventures

SE6A7058

I'm a serious plant-aholic. In other words I'm usually covered in a layer or two of soil, I drive everywhere with a large tarp for impromptu plant purchases and I'm truly passionate about sharing the joys of gardening.

Buy My Books Here!

 

 

Container Gardening Course

Enter KCHAPMAN20 to get 20% off

Architecture, interior design, and more ∨

Use the help of top home decorators to select matching bedside tables and a new lamp shade for your own bedroom design.
Collect and share photos of bathroom tile, bathroom vanities, shower curtains and bathroom mirrors to create your perfect home decorating style.

TV Interview

Archives