The Fothergillas I planted have suffered mightily–from rabbits to drought to drenching rains. I was almost ready to give up on them and chalk it up to Kansas learning. But I love this plant and I knew it would make a wonderful understory shrub layer in the woodland if I could get it started.
Well, patience succeeded. This year, though they are small, they are gorgeous. The white flowers are gleaming in the woodland. They could not be more beautiful. They help give shape to the space.
Thank you Fothergilla!
One of my beliefs is that some things should be hidden, at least partially hidden, as you move through a garden. In a way, this has been the most frustrating part of working on this garden, because I’ve put in some young trees, and been waiting for them to grow.
But I may have a shady woodland in just another few years.
Most of the trees and shrubs are just starting to leaf out, but the Redbuds are blooming, (rather sparsely but better than last year) and the Amelanchiers are gorgeous. So the area I am most interested in right now–the woodland– is starting to look like a woodland.
I’m not ready to put shade groundcovers under the trees and shrubs; that will still be a few years off. But isn’t it starting to look right?
Last week we had 48 – yes, that is not a typo – 48 trees put into the woodland and at the entrance. They’ve been struggling in the sudden heat and dryness, with a lot of babying from the sprinklers and hoses.
But last night it rained, quite a lot, about 1/3 inch…and this morning this is what I woke up to.
The Woodland Walk looks like a dream of a woodland walk.
The entry grove brings me to tears.
We’ve planted most of the trees and shrubs that will make up the main structure of the Woodland garden.
The Pines and Maples will give the shade that defines a woodland. And eventually, if all works well these will also give their name to the area; it will be a Pine and Maple Woodland. Redbuds and Dogwoods will form most of the understory layer and give their own softer shade…protecting the Fothergillas (35 of them) and Oak Leaf Hydrangeas (12). And these shrubs will lead the eye through the space, their human scale showing the size and form of the Woodland. And of course they will add their own spring flowering, summer form, and autumn color. A grove of Birches acts as an entry to the Woodland as well as providing more four-season beauty.
Once these trees and shrubs grow and start to give enough shade, it will be time to plant some of the shade-loving groundcovers that will help define the space: Tiarella, Gingers, Trillium, Solomon’s Seal…masses of each to help keeping you moving through the space.
It is so exciting to see some of the spaces actually taking shape, not just in my mind, but in reality.
Over the years I have become quite knowledgeable about perennials. Shrubs – I’m not quite so good, but still good. A deep knowledge of trees has always eluded me. I’m not sure why but I suspect it’s because most of my experience is in small gardens, and one or two trees is the most I typically do.
Of course I’ve done country gardens. But they have usually come with their own trees. My job has been to do some editing, removing some trees from existing, unkempt woodland to make it more accessible, more of a composition, and then adding groundcover, bulbs, perennials, shrubs. That is, making a wooded lot into more of a garden.
But here at Timshala I’m actually making the woodland. Most of my plantings are trees. Large shade trees…understory trees…masses of shrubs. And I have fallen in love with them. Someone said to me the other day that I am creating an arboretum. Well that isn’t quite true. My choices are for beauty, seasonal interest, size and compositional qualities. An arboretum is a teaching collection, and is usually a ‘collection’ — that is one of everything — rather than a composition. But I am having the most wonderful time shaping spaces with trees.
Today, this entire semi arrived filled with trees for me. Huge quantities, some for the woodland, some for specific locations around the house or in the meadow. I’m now actually seeing some of the vistas I had in mind when I created the design. Views through a window or door are now framed by trees just as I imagined.
At the moment this is my lawn. It’s 450 lbs of grass seed and it will be sowed this week.
The specific combination of varieties is called ‘No Mow’ and I’m using it almost everywhere in various ways. Unlike most grass seeds this is a combination of six varieties of Fescue that grow to only about 8” tall and then arch over quite beautifully.
I will keep it as a permanent unmowed, low-growing meadow for the underplanting of the Orchard Garden.
I’ll gradually be adding to it with low growing scattered flowers and bulbs.
In other places – the Woodland and the Winter Garden – it will serve as a temporary groundcover. While we wait to plant the eventual groundcovers between the shrubs and trees, this will make a nice, more finished look than just bare earth..
Mown, it also makes an attractive manicured lawn, and one which grows slowly enough that I won’t have the burden of weekly mowing. It also needs little fertilizer and less water than other lawn grasses.
It’s all still mostly in my mind – but it is coming along.