Woodland Shade Gardening

Woodland shade gardening with a purpose – pleasure, creativity, rainwater collection!

The North Trail Series – what you see in a picture doesn’t happen instantly!

It is so easy to look at a picture of a beautiful garden and think “I can create that look in my own gardens – right now”.  And this is sort of true, but not very realistic.  It is the ‘right now’ part of the idea that can be a challenge.

tLooking east, to the vinca that will direct us back into the gardens as we leave the North Trail at its east end, gumpos now in place

Looking east, along The North Trail, to the vinca edging that will direct us from this trail into another part of the gardens. The laurel and cleyeras by the fence will reach 6-8′ in height, and widen into the path. The gumpo azaleas to the right of the path, and the sarcococca past them, will mature to 3-4′, and also widen into the path. This is a good example of small plants whose looks will change immensely as they mature. In the large corner area, past the far end of this trail, are assorted evergreens that will also mature to various large sizes and change the overall look even more.

The North Trail is a pathway that travels along the inside of the fence on – you guessed it – the north side of the back gardens.  All our pathways (trails) were originally raked areas for our very small Pomeranian, Burleson, to be able to run and play after the deciduous leaves fell to the ground each autumn.  At that time, almost no garden beds had been designated.  We were just letting the forest floor create itself with a natural covering of textural, brown, decomposing leaves.  It was lovely.  But watching our little Burl out there, running through leaf cover that was too deep for his 6-pound size, made me decide to rake some pathways for his pleasure and exercise.  He truly loved this change, and ran the pathways each time he visited the great outdoors.

tNorth Trail in 2007, before tree was cut

In 2007, before the tree by the fence was cut. A way of enlightening you to the many variables throughout the years. Gardeners always have PLENTY of variables!

tNorth Trail, with Stella, one of my past loves

Stella, one of my past loves, walking by the stump which is now planted with Alexandrian Laurel. Holes in the center of decomposing stumps are one of my favorite places to fill with compost, and plant acid-loving plants. As the stump continues to decompose, the plant and its root system continue to enlarge, while appreciating the acidity produced by the stump’s decomposition.

tNorth Trail November 30th 2007

A squeaky-clean look in 2007, after many of the deciduous leaves have been chipped and mounded onto planting areas. Remember – do NOT copy this trenching technique if you live on sloped property.

Gardeners who love to garden also love to dream gardening dreams.  We indulge ourselves in the euphoria of creating in stages, and building our knowledge and experience as our gardens evolve, created from our hearts.  Some of us want an ‘instant look’, while others of us know the pleasure of the process.  It is this gardening process that intrigues me, educates me, and nurtures me.  The many details of this process are what I like to share with other gardeners, in hopes they will realize the normalness of the details they experience while creating their own gardens.

tNorth Trail in its barreness, with heary variegated vinca covering the ground

Considering the possibilities for a design to enrich the look and use of The North Trail. What will I choose to do with all that luscious, hearty variegated vinca? What will I do with that decomposing stump? So many considerations. So many possibilities!

tLaurel & Cleyera before realizing improper placement

My first attempt, last fall, for a hedge-like effect on the inner side of the trail. This was definitely one of those shop-and-plant-before-you-think actions. I later realized the shrubs would grow to their large height and diameter, and there would still be a barren trail between them and the fence. So I moved them near the fence this spring. Now they will mature to hide large portions of the fence, and become an evergreen outer wall for The North Trail.

The North Trail shrubs I planted this spring will be allowed to reach maturity without being pruned.  At maturity, the shrubs along each side of the trail will touch the shrubs to their sides, in a loose hedge fashion.  The two border areas will grow toward each other, leaving only a narrow woodland trail between them, a trail that won’t be very noticeable unless walking along it.

tView from curve, toward the east end of the trail

tAn overall look at the very young plants

tEntrance slightly hidden, this is a view of the shrub forest and how its plants will creep southward, decreasing in height, and integrating perennials

The North Trail plantings extend to the south, with progressively shorter evergreen shrubs, and then some perennials.

tClose view of the liriope and beginner shrubs, which will all mature to meet each other and fully cover the ground

Liriope spaced correctly to appear as a single mass planting when mature. This is a small rainwater retention pool, a condition where liriope seems to thrive, unaffected by any dry spells.

The evergreen shrubs along the trail are small now, and there is little mystery to this design.  When the shrubs along the fence and on the inner side of the path mature to their full sizes, lightly canopied by the arching limbs and foliage of maple, this path might provide a feeling of adventure to young children, as if it is a journey into a wild, mysterious, magical world.  Like the magical world of gardening.

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This entry was posted on July 15, 2015 by in My Woodland Garden and tagged , .
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Woodland shade gardening with a purpose - pleasure, creativity, rainwater collection!

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