woodland gardens

dry woods before planting

Garden for a Dry Woodland

This woodland garden in the Blue Ridge was created on a fairly steep hillside under an existing canopy of dogwoods, tulip poplars, beech, black gum, various maples, iron wood, oaks, hemlocks, holly and pines. A thin layer of accumulated woodland humus over sandy loam, very few native wildflowers, mosses and mushrooms, and a few native shrubs were the starting point. Before planting could begin, lifting the tree canopy and thinning out, as well as removing poison ivy and Japanese honeysuckle, were essential to creating the dappled shade preferred by most shade wildflowers.

Since the range of plants that will grow well in dry shade is very limited, every plant installed needed large amounts of leaf mold or compost, sizeable planting holes, and water, water, water during the first several growing seasons. Soaker hoses, laid horizontally across the slope, are used to supplement natural rain fall. Still, existing trees rob the soil very quickly of moisture and to retain as much water as possible, tree trunks and small boulders from the site were placed across the slope to slow run off down the hillside as much as possible.

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to Wet Woodland Garden

dry wooded hillside before planting
dry woods in winter
fresh spring green
dry woods in fall
main entrance to dry woods
dry woods edge
native dogwood Cornus alternifolia
a variety of plants creating texture

top row: winter views - before and after
row 2: fresh spring green and glorious fall color
row 3: main entrance to woods, edge plantings
row 4: native shrubs; textural planting contrast