Woodland shade gardening with a purpose – pleasure, creativity, rainwater collection!
The area for planting daylilies was a blank canvas, meaning the soil needed to be dug out completely so amendments could be added and tilled into the remaining soil. Little did we know this soil would be completely clay. This also explains why we were unable to grow grass successfully – the topsoil was almost non-existent.
The effects of erosion were already obvious on a nearby slope, so we decided to use the clods of clay to construct a wall to prevent additional erosion on that slope. No more concrete retaining wall stones would be used, because there was already one wall of this style, and more would be too much to be aesthetically pleasing. The plan was to build the clay wall, backfill with chipped leaves, and let the evergreen vinca groundcover mass itself over this naturalized floor of the garden. Bringing in more soil, without first building an erosion-control wall, would only have resulted in the new soil washing away.
The task was not easy, and quite a few changes have been made in the years since this project was completed, but that little clay wall has held well, catching rainwater, eliminating erosion behind it, hiding under a cover of leaves and becoming a good home for the vinca.
In 2014, another wall was added downhill from this clay wall, due to erosion happening on the remaining slope in front of the clay wall. Yes, the newer wall is concrete retaining wall stones, salvaged from the wall near the street – to lower it a bit and make it less conspicuous. These concrete stones are aged and will soon be covered by vinca planted against the back side of them a few weeks ago.
Use of clay clods for building gabions is a habit I embrace. Short berms to divert rainwater, and crescent-shaped berms on the low side of individual shrub plantings on a slope – to catch and hold rainwater, are also good uses for clay clods. Removal of these clods, and using them in another location, makes room for amendments such as soil enhancer, manure, and chipped leaves to be tilled in with some original soil for new individual plants and new planting areas.
Woodland shade gardening with a purpose - pleasure, creativity, rainwater collection!
THE JOY OF GARDENING IN THE SHADOWS
Garden & Home