Thursday, April 12, 2007

A Garden With A Mind Of Its Own

When you first start planting an informal woodland garden, it's very slow going: you mark out the meandering pathways, and in little niches here and there, you pop in your first, tiny little plants, which seem to immediately get swallowed up by all the competing trees and brush; it's rather like throwing bread crumbs in the ocean. At this point you don't so much have a garden; you just have a nice woods with a few plants in it. Gradually, you reach the point where you can walk around the paths and feel like you are walking around a more or less cohesive garden, as in most spots there is something to see, even if you have to poke under the brush to find it. Then one year, the garden seems to take off, and you realize you may not really be completely in charge anymore; it all starts to become one big, delightful jumble (or should I say jungle).
I wanted this effect, for I cannot begin to express the delight I get from wandering about, looking at plants as they are just coming up in the spring, and trying to figure out what they may be, with new little clumps of even rather unusual little treasures popping up here and there. I am to the point where things like fritillaries, primroses, and wild orchids are coming up as volunteers, looking ever so proud of themselves. I will not be so smug as to complain that the showy orchis is edging out my rugosa rose bush... but it's close.
The picture above shows volunteer Dutchman's breeches, blue and striped squills, and Trillium recurvatum (picture taken 4/4/07).
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Wow, what an undertaking. Beautiful photos.
A woodland garden sounds pretty neat! I have always just had vegetable gardens, landscaping, and predictable flower beds along our privacy fences. I do have some wooded areas in the back of our yard. I never considered it as a place to garden, but you inspire me!

I'm new to your blog, and I've enjoyed what I've seen so far. Looking forward to keeping up with your future posts!
Laurie... it was hard at first, now it's easy.

Marc... I'm glad you're enjoying my little blog. I really like woodland gardening; I just like that kind of plant.

You give me hope for my own patch of woods with a few plants in it. Did you have to weed out a lot of invasives? It seems my woods grows a lot of multiflora rose, tartarian honeysuckle, and garlic mustard. And a vole ate all the hepatica I planted.
Kathy... I'm still working on invasives. I'd guess I've pulled close to 50,000 garlic mustard plants, and still spend perhaps an hour a week pulling new little plants that pop up after three years.
Do you consider the squill invasice? I have tons of it popping up all over and am concerned that it will crowd out the may apple, rue anomone, Virginia Bluebells. Any thoughts?
cchuff... it is indeed very invasive. I think the bluebells are "invasive" right back, and the mayapples can hold their own. The rue anemone has trouble with it, though. If I had it to do over, I wouldn't have squills (they rode in from my last garden with some daylilies).
I know it's not PC to say this, and I would kill all the garlic mustard, if you can, but a limited amount of multiflora rose and tartarian honeysuckle can be quite beautiful and nicely scented, and will feed the pollinators and then the birds (hips and berries).

Anyway, I'm envious. All I've got at this point (in northwest Massachusetts) is snowdrops.
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