Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The 'Woodland Island'

An old stump planted with new trillium and jack-in-the-pulpit  
I have never owned a property with shade. I've always longed after the subtle plants one sees on a woodland hike - the trilliums, wood ferns, trout lilies, wild ginger, jack-in-the-pulpits - but I've never had the shade to grow them. Until now.

I have been itching to get my hands in the dirt along the side of house where dense shade lurks. Having already planted the shade border nearer to the road I've had a chance to play around with foam flower, coral bells and solomon's seal. But the area where I've been planning my 'woodland island' is where I really get to play with native woodland plants. The path through the area will create an island of plants with a border all around it,  allowing a lot of frontage in which to display smaller, more subtle specimens that might get lost in a deeper border. 

This area had been yet more bare mulch with an ancient yew shrub that was going (left) and a cool, old, mossy stump, which I was definitely keeping (above). It was a large area to tackle so breaking it up with an island of plants with pathways around it not only avoided a very wide border, but it allowed pathways for my kids to explore, hopefully keeping them from bushwhacking their way through the tender new plants.

Island prepped

After we removed the yew I painstakingly removed the plastic sheeting from the marked-out island area, added a bird bath and outlined the outer path (right). One of my rain barrels in also adjacent to this area and in need of an overflow solution to keep the extra water out of the basement. I plumbed the overflow line from the barrel into a pipe buried underground which drains out under the 'island', making this area slightly wetter than normal.

Finished woodland island
Before I tackled the plastic in the rest of the area I rewarded myself with a shopping trip and native planting session to finish the island (left). Species in this area include bugbane, ostrich fern, sweet pepper bush, lady fern, sensitive fern, wild ginger, trillium, foamflower and goat's beard, all plants that should not only tolerate but do well with the rain barrel overflow.

Plastic removed from the outer border of the woodland garden

Now that the island was done it was time to deal with the rest of the plastic. I brought in reinforcements in the form of two college students who made short work of the remaining sheeting (piled up to the right). It is nice to know it's no longer blocking the flow of rain into the ground. And now I was finally able to brick out the inner pathway with bricks removed from the back patio, leaving a spot for a garden bench along the right side. I only have a few unplanted plants left with which to landscape the outer border, which means one thing: another shopping trip to my favorite local nursery. Oh twist my arm!

The woodland island awaiting its woodland border

1 comment:

I love comments, suggestions and especially plant tips. thanks!