Thursday, 2 February 2012

the woodland garden ....the end is in sight (well, nearly)

We are nearing the end of our 2012 work in the woodland garden. This will see almost a quarter of this part of the garden developed with the remaining three quarters to be developed over the coming years.

This week we have been creating an island bed that is next to the first bed we planted. It shares the same key characteristics - dry shade on an impoverished soil.

Light is now penetrating to the woodland floor due to tree clearance and branch removal. We have loosened compacted earth and created log paths thickly laid with wood chippings.  The area is an elipse and is about 10m X 10m. As we cleared and loosened the soil we discovered one worm! Hmmm. More organic matter needed!! A day loading and unloading my trailer lies ahead on journeys to and from neighbours' manure heaps.

The path is edged with logs that will rot and provide an environment for the saproxylic organisms we are keen to encourage. The wood chippings too will contribute to this as will the piles of sticks and logs we have left. It was a delight to watch a pair of robins and a wren exploring within them.

We are keen to encourage native flora and so have left elder (sambus nigra) whose flowers and berries are good for wildlife. Elders are used as food plants by the larvae of moths including Brown-tail, Buff Ermine, Dot Moth, Emperor Moth, Swallow-tailed Moth and The V-pug.
Because elders tolerate our difficult conditions, we may plant the decorative red berried elder  (Sambucus racemosa plumosa aurea) in this section of the garden. Its leaves are bronze when young turning a golden yellow. As its name suggests, it bears striking red berries. There is wealth of information about native elders at hedgrerowmobile.

During this beginning stage of our new garden, the emphasis will be upon establishing and then propagating plants from cuttings, seed and divisions. So this bed will be used to bring on plants that will make an appearance elsewhere as well!!

Continuing the theme from earlier planting we will plant sweetly scented Christmas Box (Sarcacocca confusa) and yellow-stemmed Dogwood (Cornus stoloniferia flaviramea).
With no budget for landscaping, we are pleased that Elephants Ears (Bergenia cordifolia) suit our soil and should thrive here. Thanks to my Aunty Margaret who wanted them clearing from her borders ... we now have many resting at our allotment waiting to join us.

To contrast with the big round leaves of the bergenias, iris foetidissima will be planted. The big round, leathery bergenia leaves will complement the slender, knives of the iris leaves. Brunnera macrophylla has lush, veined leaves and would add further foliage contrast.

A horse chestnut that dominates the border and needs to be cloaked - what better than a beautiful Schizophragma hydrangoides? Jill loves hyrdangea petiolaris and schizophragma is an exceptional relative. I took this photo of it at BlueBell Arboretum in Smisby.

Acanthus Mollis will also feature - we have admired their tall spikes of flowers on many garden visits.

We will also lift and divide one of the ferns we are bringing on at the allotment.

A busy and exciting few weeks ahead as our plans for this bed reach fruition. As you'd expect ... photos will follow!!

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