Saturday, May 21, 2011

Garden Diary: Closing the ground

An open scar in the woodland garden marks the spot where I stored piles of cedar chips, now gone, left from clearing  the land in the spring of 2005. Behind those piles is the utility and composting area. This place is one of the first you see on entering the woodland so I'm starting a restoration program to hide the composting area and close up this blot on the landscape. The soil is compacted, full of tree roots and stone. I have no idea what years of stored cedar chips may have done to the soil chemically and biologically.

On walking through the garden gate, the first thing the eye goes to is the scene below. The light and open space naturally draws the view there. So far, so good.

The early spring meadow area in the center between the paths is well along now; at least it's green, so I can turn my attention to the right side of the main path, which presents the major problem.

Ground covers are my first concern. On the right side (below), where the neglect is most evident, Hosta 'Francis Williams', Ajuga 'Caitlan's Giant', Spodiopogon sibiricus (hidden by the hostas), and Sweet woodruff are successfully negotiating the thin, heavy, wet soil.

And just past the "scar," another colony of Sweet woodruff is doing its thing. But looking slightly back to the right ...

... is the scar itself. Perhaps "scar" is too harsh a word. This is not an unacceptable floor for a woodland, but my preference is for a tapestry like groundcover of carex, pulmonaria, fern, epimedium, and hellebore. A few plants of Aster divaricatus (Eurybia divaricata) have seeded in from across the path, indicating this may also become a successful addition to the tapestry. I've planted some clump bamboos and hydrangeas in the background to get enough height to hide the composting area, but don't yet know whether they will do well in the conditions offered.

In other parts of the woodland garden I'm trialing other potential ground cover plants. Here Leucothoe auxliaris seems to be making a successful plant life.

And here Mattuecia struthiopteris is spreading into a colony--not as large as this fern usually gets, probably due to the packed clay it's growing in, but it is successfully spreading.

I could go on at length about groundcover plants in other parts of my "impossible" garden, but I don't want to frighten you. More on that later.

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