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I’m writing from a gorgeous urban garden just beyond the two-lane bridge that channels the Potomac River into DC. It’s bordered by warehouses and a mill. The half mile loop is great for quick walks and a nice spot for lunchtime meditation. You can hear the geese honking in the distance and it will be a short distance to see them circling the DC monument if you’re patient enough.
In 1989, after 13 years of marriage, my husband, Bud, and I ventured back to my hometown with our family of four. A beautiful piece of property awaited us: a blank slate. With large open fields in the foreground and 40 acres of woods behind, we carefully selected the location for our new home. It would be positioned just inside the woods’ edge so that mature trees would be left standing in the front lawn. Many trees needed to be cleared, making way for the opening—a task that Bud, my father, and my brothers-in-law took on willingly. Every year since, we’ve carved out a little more of the woods to create flowing paths and color-filled beds under the trees, until a mature, beautiful, half-acre garden emerged. It’s been a lot of work, and we’ve learned a lot of lessons along the way.
While many trees remained standing after the construction of our new home, it was necessary to thin them, making way for a lawn. We left small groups of trees so that, in time, the gardens could take shape around them. As the trees matured, we continued to eliminate more when necessary, often because they were either compromised during construction or diseased, or because they had an undesirable trunk form. With only a small amount of experience in sun gardening, I pored over books and magazine articles on shade gardening. At first, shade gardening was a challenge, but as I continued to educate myself, it became evident that our type of shade was the best kind we could have. As a result of carving into a woodlot, our trees bore high canopies, which resulted in dappled light. Perfect. Many plants prefer these conditions. The trees also offered important vertical elements to my designs. (Source:www.finegardening.com)
Bulbs, shade-loving perennials, biennials and ferns form the carpet of your woodland garden. With the right soil conditions and light, plants will self-seed until the area is covered with flowers in spring, especially if you grow native wildflowers such as English bluebells, wood anemones, primroses and foxgloves. Remove weeds and add copious quantities of compost or leaf mould to impoverished soils before planting.Rustic doesn’t suit every garden, but the basic principles of woodland gardening are the same in a more sophisticated setting and can transform a shady town garden from a problem into an asset.
Use a restrained palette of greens or shades of a single colour for ground cover planting. Carefully trained or cloud-pruned trees can form the canopy and topiaried box the understorey. For features and hard landscaping, use modern interpretations of traditioWeathered wooden gates look most appropriate in a woodland setting – old ones can be found at reclamation yards or you could have a new one made from cleft oak that will not take long to develop a patina of age. To construct boundaries, laid hedges, dry-stone walls and stacked logs are all suitably rustic. If your woodland garden is in a built-up area, use boundaries to create a sense of enclosure; if it borders open countryside, find a way to incorporate or honour some of the views. (Source:www.countryliving.com)