Woodland shade gardening with a purpose – pleasure, creativity, rainwater collection!
Nurturing is at the heart of all gardening. It may be the nurturing of plants, nurturing of the soil, nurturing of the wildlife that enhances the biodiversity of an area, or simply nurturing the look of curb appeal or lawn.
Tiny Tots and Rescues are examples of elevated nurturing. Tiny Tots are limbs, on a larger woody-stemmed plant, that have drooped against the soil without me realizing it, and have rooted themselves. When the connecting limb is cut loose from the parent plant, this rooted limb becomes a separate plant ready for its own location. A Tiny Tot may also be a limb that has accidentally broken, but is large and healthy – a good candidate for placing in a humus rich location where it can be kept well-watered while it forms roots. Rescues are plants that are struggling for any reason – poor soil, lack of moisture due to too much competition with tree roots, or my lack of knowledge of the plant’s true needs when I chose the original location without enough attention to sunlight or shade.
In my shady woodland, sixteen years ago, some plants were placed in sunny areas which have now become shady areas as my forest trees have become even more mature. One example of this is a long border-style bed that parallels the street. Many rescues were dug from this bed in Spring 2014, and are now prospering in their new, well-chosen locations. Instead of refilling their vacated spaces with soil, I refilled with chipped leaves. This refill material keeps the surface of the bed looking level, but allows the vacated spaces to become little reservoirs to hold rainwater that slowly seeps into the surrounding soil, nurturing the remaining plantings.
Tiny Tots and Rescues usually need gentle and selective pruning – maybe only once, but often for a season or two. They have struggled and may need dead wood pruned away. Pruning for shape is also important if the plant has lost its natural form as some parts died away. This selective pruning may need to be spread over more than one season to avoid too much initial stress to the plant, and also to allow time for the plant to show how it will produce new growth, and possibly reshape itself to some extent.
For Tiny Tots and Rescues, I will prepare an excellent site, transplant, and nurture. If a plant has struggled in one location, and is moved to a more suitable location, it will usually respond quickly and with much satisfaction to the gardener.
Sometimes a Rescue doesn’t need relocation, but just needs rejuvenation pruning, as with my Jasmine. It was skimpy and dying away. I added much compost around its base and pruned the plant back to within a few inches of the soil. Only a few weeks had passed when I noticed strong new growth emerging.
Yes, going to the plant nursery and purchasing a 3-gallon starter shrub is good, but nurturing a Tiny Tot or Rescue is also very gratifying.
Woodland shade gardening with a purpose - pleasure, creativity, rainwater collection!
THE JOY OF GARDENING IN THE SHADOWS
Garden & Home