Suggestions for planting by open woodland path

maylandJune 24, 2008

Since its now too hot to plant much, we have been working on making some bark-chip paths in a "woodsy" area of our garden. This whole area was completely covered in mondo and ivy when we bought the house, and we first thought we would just leave it like that. But we hated how the ivy looked, and did not want to have such a big area that was never used.

We already had one path in place along the edge of the area (from street to driveway). This had flagstones on it that we have taken up and used to create a patio elsewhere. We put weed barrier over the path, my husband made some steps (its quite a slope), and we filled in the path with bark-chips. We first thought it would take 8-10 bags, we ended up needing 50!

Once the first path was done, we thought a second would be just super. So, my husband started digging out the soil to carve out a new path that divides from the first one near the street and cuts across the area to the driveway (by the Physocarpus, on pic below). Another 50 bags of bark chip! Eventually we will continue it across the driveway to merge into our lawn area.

Now I have the exciting task of planting this area (well, in fall when its cooler)! Here's a pic showing what we have already.

We are going to keep the mondo grass between the cross-ways path and the street. So its really the area between the paths and the driveway that I want to plant in. The green around the magnolia was ivy -- which we have now ripped out most of. I do have a couple of native shrubs planted (dwarf wax myrtle, physocarpus) and some non-natives shrubs along the driveway (spirea, weigela). There are also a red maple and 2 redbud trees behind those.

Here's a pic of that area taken from where the 2 paths fork, looking up the path that crosses over the area. So, left will be the mondo that stays, and right will be where i want to plant. The small tree is the Red Maple (the Redbuds are further uphill and are tiny).

Its quite a big area -- I think the distance along the driveway between the 2 paths is at least 50 ft.

I would like it to have a woodland feel, but it does get quite a lot of afternoon sun, maybe 3-4 hrs (the photo was taken at 3pm). Around the magnolia is shadier, so I was thinking of Mtn Laurel and/or Rhodies there. But for the rest, I am looking for some "woodsy" shrubs that can take sun. I don't want to plant it densely, so I'm really looking for a few nice shrubs (ideally flowering, and some evergreen would be great). Would Florida Anise be able to take that much sun? I will plant smaller edging plants along the path edges, so I'm also looking for both shady and sunny smaller plants that have a woodland feel.

Any suggestions would be great!

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You have several trees but dogwood says "woodsy" to me. Perhaps a pagoda or kousa. I think that native azaleas would fit the bill. There are many sizes and they add fragrance (not evergreen). When the trees grow and provide shade, it's tiome for hostas.
I think that you will want to have interest in all three levels (trees, shrubs and low growing-not ivy).

    Bookmark   June 24, 2008 at 1:43PM
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Lowbush berries would be nice, and I agree about the fragrant native azaleas although they would appreciate more afternoon shade. You can often find the evergreen Vaccinium darrowii, including the cultivar 'Rosa's blush'.

Agarista populifolia 'Leprechaun' is nice. Evergreen.

Virginia sweetspire, lots of good cultivars available like 'Little Henry' for smaller spaces or some of the ones with good fall color 'Henry's Garnet' or 'Merlot'.

Elderberry handles full sun, as does chokeberry (fomerly Aronia arbutifolia, now Photinia pyrifolia.

Also Sweetshrub (Calycanthus floridus), the cultivars 'Athens' and 'Michael Lindsay' are quite fragrant.

Fothergilla is another, you can get a smaller cultivar (such as Fothergilla gardenii 'Blue Mist').

And of course, viburnums love full sun - they are one of my favorite groups of native shrubs. Viburnum nudum 'Winterthur' is very attractive.

That much afternoon sun would be hard on Florida anise (illicum floridanum).

    Bookmark   June 24, 2008 at 3:03PM
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girlgroupgirl(8 ATL)

Native hollies with colorful berries? You can get them with black, red and yellow berries. They might be nice with some of your other choices too.


    Bookmark   June 25, 2008 at 12:11AM
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Thank you all, this is so helpful!

Stevega, you are right that we need interest at all 3 heights. The big trees there are so tall that we look out from the house on a lot of tree trunks! I love dogwoods and have a couple of seedlings in pots so I may put them there. Native azaleas would be wonderful there, I can try to position them to get less afternoon sun.

Esh, thank you for the list, I think I might use lots of those suggestions! I really like the berry idea as we don't have any edibles yet. I have Itea virginica and Fothergilla on the other side of the driveway, so it would be nice to repeat those in this area (maybe I can even try to propagate some). We have a big area of Calycanthus which suckers madly, so I could probably transplant some of that. The Elderberry you gave me (thank you!) is planted in this area, near the path, and doing well. Maybe I can complement that with some of the cultivars like Sutherland Gold or Black Lace.

I also remember your mention of Lyonia (fetterbush) on a previous post and thought that might work too -- would that handle afternoon sun?

GGG, I hadn't thought of hollies but they would work well there. I need to read up on them as I know there are a lot of different ones. I need to read up on Viburnums too, they confuse me!

Yesterday I went to Pike (Toco Hills) "just to look". They had 50-75% off lots of things, I wonder if they are anticipating another drought. I found an Illicium Floridanum "Shady Lady" (variegated with a light pink flower), which was half-price: $15 for 3-gal. I'll either put it in the shadier part of this area, or in another bed next to the house. I've never seen that cultivar before, hope it does well.

Thank you all for the great help.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2008 at 10:44AM
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It does look like Lyonia lucida might work. You can call Nearly Native Nursery for availability. By the way, Jim Rodgers from NNN will be speaking at the July 8th GNPS meeting at Atlanta Botanical Garden and I think they are bringing stuff to sell. You should think about going. You don't have to be a member to attend.

Good deal on the 'Shady Lady'. Someone on this forum has one and he will probably chime in on how it's done.

Here is a link that might be useful: Lyonia lucida

    Bookmark   June 25, 2008 at 11:08AM
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my 'shady lady' is done = gone. lost it to the drought.
a pretty shrub, though, and i will try another when i find one. needs consistently moist, it seems, and i was neglectful in watering but it might be more durable after establishment. the foliage began to brown in spots so could have been the soil moisture issue or possibly something else. sometimes, plants with variegated foliage are just not as robust as their solid green counterparts.
the deciduous hollies like winterberry (ilex verticillata) or possumhaw (ilex decidua) can be striking when backlit by the sun. good for wildlife, too.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2008 at 12:26PM
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shot(8 - GA)

First off - I know absolutely nothing about what yall are talking about... but I do know about drought times and starting plants. Here in the country we have lots of buckets... I drill a couple of small holes in the bottom, place near the new plant and fill with water. It will seep out of the bucket and give maximum penetration without run off or evaporating. If the plant is too far away from the water supply, I just fill it and carry it to the plant. With the small holes I don't lose much anyway.
Hope yall don't mind me.


    Bookmark   June 25, 2008 at 12:36PM
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Shot, of course you are welcome to contribute such a good tip. That is a good way to water new plants; I usually use a milk jug for the "bucket" part. Not many buckets come my way! I used to buy cat litter in buckets, but then I decided they weren't recyclable enough and I didn't have any use for so many white buckets, so now I buy it in 20 lb. boxes.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2008 at 3:28PM
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Thanks Esh, I think I might visit Nearly Native when it gets cool enough to start planting again, it sounds like they have a great selection. I can't make the 8th, but if you go, would love to hear a report!

Jeff, a shame your Shady Lady succumbed to the drought. Good to know about the constant moisture need, I hadn't realized that. I was in my local HD last night and saw them there too, so you might find a replacement there. Both HD's and the ones at Pike had some browning on the leaf edges. Pike had theirs outside in full sun (great place to put a plant named Shady Lady!). I hope it improves now its in shade.

Shot, thanks for the great tip, I had not heard that before so I will be trying it for this one. I love to read your posts, so full of experience and appreciation for the land. I hope your sunflowers and corn are holding up well and that you get some rain soon (we were fortunate enough to get a light rain this morning).

    Bookmark   June 26, 2008 at 9:26AM
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satellitehead(z8 ATL Metro)

I had really hoped for more rain this weekend as well. The Weather Dot Com website had us slated for possibly Fri->Mon rain, upwards of 50%-60% chance each day, but we got less than 1/4". Better some than none, but yesterday's hourly breakout had us getting possible rain from 11am->10pm!! It made a lot of noise and showed some pretty lights, but ... actual payload was hardly enough to get the ground wet.

Anyway, I found this link online the other day - it's the GNPS plant list/membership form. Two-fold purpose - obviously, you can use it to join the GNPS, which is a good thing. It also gives you a *great* list of native plants/shrubs/trees you could plant around your new path, it's as simple as going to the section you're interested in, reading up on items to find things that are interesting to you, deciding if they fit, then sourcing them out (which is undoubtedly the hard[est] part of it all).

There are several evergreens in the list as well, and nearly any of the plants listed could potentially work for you.

Check it out -

Here is a link that might be useful: GNPS plant list/membership form

    Bookmark   June 30, 2008 at 9:04AM
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Thanks Satellitehead, thats a great list. I think I will go with mostly (if not all) natives here. I think I only need a couple of evergreens, the rest could be deciduous, so I should have a lot of choice.

We got loads of rain on Sat afternoon (we had a fairly intense thunderstorm around 4pm with a lot of rain, and lost power for 3-4 hrs). More rain yesterday evening and again in the night. We can only be a few miles from you (we're in Druid Hills area). Must have been very isolated rain/storms.

We've ripped out all the ivy you can see in the pic above, so I'm ready for fall to start planting!

    Bookmark   June 30, 2008 at 9:33AM
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Here is another brochure that GNPS sponsored which people might find useful.

Here is a link that might be useful: Landscaping with Native Plants in the Georgia Piedmont

    Bookmark   June 30, 2008 at 10:07AM
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satellitehead linked to Page 2 of the GNPS membership brochure because that includes the list of Trees and Shrubs (as well as Perennials for Sun and Shade and Vines). Page 1 (linked below) has Groundcovers, Ferns for shade and Butterfly plants for adults and caterpillars.

By the way, if anyone needs a fern for part sun, Thelypteris kunthii is a wonderful choice. It gets tall and lush and creeps enough to divide some off every couple of years and get more or to share with friends.

Here is a link that might be useful: Page 1 of brochure (PDF)

    Bookmark   June 30, 2008 at 10:14AM
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lzygrdner(7 sndy sprngs)

I have a REALLY dry woodland garden, and this is what has grown with nearly no supplemental water:

variegated soloman's seal
florida leucothoe
bald cypress
sweet bay magnolia
kousa dogwood
new jersey tea (shrub)
wax myrtle
camilla sinesis

these really get by with no supplemental watering after establishment.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2008 at 7:37PM
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I second the recommendation for southern shield fern. I have several growing wild in mostly sun. They are growing with B&B salvia in one area.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2008 at 8:10AM
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Thanks Lzygrdnr, some of this area is quite dry too. I've been looking at Ceanothus and might try that. Is yours evergreen?

That fern sounds great too. I definitely want to add some ferns for low cover.

I also have a lot of trilliums and some wild ginger along the shady part of the path (they were buried knee-high in ivy). I'll put some shade-loving ferns around those I think.

I have some blood-root in a spot that is now too sunny for it (full sun). Does anyone know if I can dig that up and move it? Is fall the best time?

    Bookmark   July 1, 2008 at 9:50AM
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lzygrdner(7 sndy sprngs)

Ceanothus is deciduos (I think) I just planted it this spring, and it is doing great. - Harriet

    Bookmark   July 1, 2008 at 10:20AM
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satellitehead(z8 ATL Metro)

mayland, have you given any thought to throwing any edible landscaping in there as well? as a guy who "grows his own", i'll tell you, nothing beats having landscaping that gives back, especially with little or no effort.

note that the PawPaw is native to GA, it takes little to no effort to grow, fruits ripen in the fall. the fruit has a banana/strawberry/custard sort of flavor and it is mostly fruit, no core, just a few seeds.

if you look at the second and third article of this page there are pictures of the fruit, info about it, links to additional resources/articles on the tree.

it is deciduous. it's listed on the GNPS native plants list as "drought tolerant", grows in pretty much any conditions.

just tossing out some fun ideas! :)

    Bookmark   July 1, 2008 at 10:21AM
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Satellitehead, you are dead right, I do need to include some edibles. We have about 2/3 acre, so more than enough room for both showy flowers and a good variety of edibles. I'm trying to get a plan in my mind, area by area, of the garden, and work out what I could grow where. I've never had a garden anywhere near this size before, so I'm trying to plan a bit before i plant (coming from a London suburb, we would have had 6-8 houses on an urban lot of this size! -- and each of them would have sold for 3-4x the price of ours, but thats another topic!).

We do have a large stand of paw-paw already (it was there when we bought the house). On the first pic above, it runs along the left-hand side of the left-hand path (divides us and neighbor). Esh identified it for me on "name that plant"! I did not notice any fruit on it last year, but we were pretty occupied with fixing up the inside of the house so the garden got little attention. I hope we get fruit this year. It suckers like mad. If you want some, just let me know!

I do plan to plant some blueberries in the area shown in this thread. Apart from that, I'm growing tomatoes with my 4-yr old, that's all I've managed this year! I'd like to learn about spinach, lettuce, beans, (and Shot's pea photos have got me wondering if we could grow a pea bush or two), and find places to grow all of these, which we will probably need to clear ivy/mondo from first! I have a lot of reading to do. But yes, I'd love to be able to grow enough veggies and fruit that we can have a constant supply of our favorites.

I looked at the pics of your stacked-stone veggie beds (very nice!). How long a supply do you get from that area?

    Bookmark   July 1, 2008 at 10:58AM
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satellitehead(z8 ATL Metro)

actually, let me suffix that last post with a disclaimer: out of personal interest, i spent the last 45 minutes reading up on ins and outs of the pawpaw tree, and found a fruit facts page which talks about the pawpaw. i wasn't aware that they were not hermaphroditic, yet not self-pollinating, nor aware that they require cross-pollination from an unrelated tree, and also that bees don't like the blooms, so if you want an abundant fruit yeild, you may need to break out the painter's brush and "help" the pollination process yourself.

of course, as with any information, and the leaps and bounds made every year towards breeding "better" varieties of everything out there, the information i'm reading @ that plant facts page could already be outdated.

i'm going to hit the Atlanta Fruits list and consult the professionals :)

    Bookmark   July 1, 2008 at 10:59AM
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satellitehead(z8 ATL Metro)


a lot of people (including myself, till i really got into it) don't realize that gardening is a year-round endeavor, and you can keep planted with seasonal veggies with minimal effort on your part. grocery stores have spoiled me rotten to a degree (year-round everything), but i find it a fun challenge to adapt to a seasonal menu at home - my DW and I love to cook, although admittedly, i do 75% or more of all the cooking in the house.

regarding my stackstone beds...i try to keep them planted year-round with (at minimum) salad greens, during warm months (late spring/summer/fall/early winter) they keep us outfitted with tomatoes, green beans, cucumbers, herbs, peppers, etc. the beds are only ~12 ft each (~3.5' x 3.5')

personally, i don't like needing to buy from the store, and it always taste better fresh-picked. typical exchange at home for us:

"hey honey, you want salad for dinner tonight?"
"ok, i'm headed outside to cut some!"
"grab a tomato and cucumber while you're at it!"

i tell ya, it is SUCH an immense pleasure to go into the fridge, realize, "dang, i don't have any X or Y!" and not have to nix your dinner plans entirely or drive to the store in order to salvage them. it's also nice to get those occasional perks, like, for example, the brown turkey figs on the side yard, which go so well with balsamic vinegar and either greek yogurt or goat cheese (btw - fig is another one you could potentially grow in that spot...)

we're always improving and improvising to find new ways to grow, and i think this year; i think we're going to look into adding something like this into the mix this winter to continue growing things which are cold-intolerant but don't require pollination.

ultimately, the options are limitless. we picked up our fig in feb/march and planted - it had one fig on it from the store (it ripened a few weeks back), and it literally leaped already, doubled in size, and has at least 40 figs on it already :)

at this point, i've got the edible landscape bug, whereas previously, i was all about xeriscaping. i can't help myself. the hard part is knowing all your options, there's just too much information out there and not enough time!!!

    Bookmark   July 1, 2008 at 11:53AM
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