The Woodland Garden

hostabevieFebruary 24, 2010

Part of the garden is a woodland garden with various ferns and shade loving plants & is a shot of that area...Bevie

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WOW. This is beautiful and what I am striving for. Can I ask how long it took you to get it like this? I realize it is an ongoing process, but I still would like to know. Very nice.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2010 at 8:53PM
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Yes I started the woodland garden in 1999...but it has looked nice and full after about 6 years...Bevie

    Bookmark   February 24, 2010 at 9:43PM
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jakkig(CT Z5/6)

I love the look of this woodland garden!

What did you do for fertilizer, compost etc. And how did you cope with the competition between plants and tree roots?

My woodland area should be lovely and fertile, but I am finding it very difficult to get my hosta to thrive. They either wimp out, disappear after a season or they just keep getting smaller.

Any ideas from any and all forum members would be gratefully appreciated!

Thanks! Jakki

PS, I am now watching the rain flood the garden yet again - not really very much snow this winter but cold enough to freeze the ground, then, warm spells melt the top few inches of our clay-ridden soil. I really despair of anyting surviving the flood/freeze/thaw/flood...I am keeping my fingers crossed for the continuing miracle of the returning hostas!

    Bookmark   February 25, 2010 at 3:09PM
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Alot of live and learn happened in the woodland garden for me...first I just dug small holes and plopped the plants in...well after a couple years some of them didn't make it and had to be replaced....the I started digging bigger holes and adding lots of compost to them...the plants did much better...but the trees roots did get to some of them and started choking and some had to be dug up again and the holes lined with "professional grade" landscape fabric (not the cheap junky black stuff...this stuf is dark gray and kinda like interfacing fabric)...then there were the plants that started to take over like ostridge ferns...yes live and learn again...I like them but not when they start to cover everything up last fall we dug out alot of the....they spread by underground runners so I'm sure we didn't get them all...then we replanted more hostas and other companion plants in the for fertilizing that's the spring before any of the plants are up but the ground is bare I go around and throw handfulls of 12-12-12 fertilizer over the whole area(thrown so it spreads out as it falls down you don't want clumps of it on the ground)...the spring rains come they will wash it in for me and it won't burn the plants because they haven't come up yet....Bevie

    Bookmark   February 25, 2010 at 6:35PM
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cyn427(z7aN. VA)

Truly lovely, hb. Very much the vision I have for our lower yard if I can create a route around the plants for the slap-happy idiots as they race through the yard-and now we have a grandpup to add to our mongrel horde of galloping gardeners. I fear it is hopeless, but I am one who will keep beating my head against the wall-or the hosta against the driveway, Ken. Teehee.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2010 at 10:13PM
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hosta_freak(z6 NC)

I think I've mentioned it before in this forum,Jakki,but I too,have clay soil. It is red clay,but it gets amended by fallen Oak leaves every year,so I never use fertilizer,except maybe a little when planting a new hosta. I don't ever compost,and there are lots of earthworms in the soil. I can't even dig a hole,without finding some of them. The only problem I've had the last 3 years is,a late spring freeze in April,and a lot of early risers get zapped! I'm hoping that since this winter has been so cold,that maybe we will have a "normal" spring,whatever that is. Phil

    Bookmark   February 25, 2010 at 10:58PM
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Such a beautiful woodland garden. I am so glad I came upon this. Today I planted ferns and hosta under a couple incense cedars and hope for my garden area to turn out something like this. Thank you for sharing.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2010 at 1:22AM
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hosta_freak(z6 NC)

Bevie,what are those huge ferns? I have some planted,and there are lots of native ferns in my garden,but nothing to the size of yours! Are they native,or something you planted? Phil

    Bookmark   February 26, 2010 at 9:07AM
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jakkig(CT Z5/6)

Phil - we have lots of maples in the small wooded area I have - roots are very shallow. I try to mulch the fallen leaves and put them down again before the first snow. My feeling is that (1) the soil isn't all that fertile - it seems more like it is packed down and (2) there really aren't a lot of worms in it.

When I first designed my garden, about 8 years ago, it seemed to produce strong plants. However, each year that followed I felt fewer plants were thriving, more were mysteriously disappearing altogether (I was planting "shade" plants or "woodland" plants suitable for my zone - I wasn't trying to push the zone).

Due to the weather (wet) and my back (bad) in 2008, I was unable to do anything in the garden - no fertlizer, no compost, no nothing! I wasn't even able to get out there to look for most of that growing season.

Last year we had torrential rains from early spring through most of the summer and fall, which followed a fairly snowless winter with an extremely cold February. As I worked my way through the garden it became clear to me that I was missing many many hostas and other woodland plants. I had a new labeller and collected the original pot markers and replaced them with Paw Paw/Eon metal markers. While doing this, I found lots of plantless markers - lots of hostas no longer there. Heartbreaking and expensive!!

Our home is in a development and I know that the house was built on fill in 2001:


key ] = house; --- = lawn ; \ = slope down to woodland area (the house and grass are on fill, the first slope is the end of the fill); ____ = woodland area which is original land level, it then slopes down to a run off "stream".

I get quite a bit of run off from the house/lawn area down the slope and through the wooded area. This leaves it looking scoured, as though a rapidly moving flood of water has rushed over it.

I am beginning to think that this water situation may have something to do with the lack of fertility and loss of plants in the wooded area. I do have cultivated beds at the bottom of the slope which must slow the water, but I can tell that water must flow through the garden because the mulch on the path is washed away or cut through.

I fear that by building up growing areas in the woods, I am just going to encourage the surface roots to grow up into the new soil and form impenetrable mats. This seems to have happened to the bottom layer of my compost pile - I have all these thin roots invading the composted soil.

Sorry this is so long, but I wanted to give a clear idea of the conditions.

Any thoughts would be gratefully received. This is my main hosta growing area. My husband flatly refuses to give me any more lawn for hosta beds, not even the steepest part of the lawn, which is really dangerous to mow!!


    Bookmark   February 26, 2010 at 4:14PM
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hosta freak - those are Ostrich Ferns. They become invasive and are very difficult to get 'all' of the root when you decide enough is enough, beware.

jakkig - ouch, Maple trees, eh? Most of them are infamous for choking Hosta. Our Red Pines here do the same thing, but not to the extent of Maples, and the Red Pine roots are MUCH easier to 'extract' from the Hosta roots when we dig them up to rescue them. Now we dig as big a hole as there's room for, line the hole with the commercial grade weed barrier cloth (feels like thin fibreglass, not plastic), amend the soil with rotten leaf, replace the Hosta. Perhaps it would be easier on your back to get hubby or inexpensive neighborhood kid to make some lined elevated beds? Thought.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2010 at 4:54PM
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Gosh your picture makes me want this snow to go away. My woodland garden is heavier on hosta and less on ferns, but other wise a very similar look. I found after 70+ years of oak leaves falling and decaying no fertilizer is needed for all my plants to thrive, and I mean THRIVE. Each fall a new layer of "mulch"/fertilizer is shed by the burr oaks over head. It is a great system. My most invasive 'weed' are saplings. All you can do is keep pulling them. At this point everything is so full and wonderful, it gives me something to do in my garden. Here's to spring and another season of growth and color.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2010 at 7:25PM
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hosta_freak(z6 NC)

That's funny you said that HH,because I have an Ostrich fern,and the fronds are not nearly that tall,but they spread by rhizomes.I guess there must be different types of Ostrich ferns. I had some when I lived in Florida,that were tall,but they were called Ostrich plume ferns;very tall,and grew all year long down there,right in front of my house. Phil

    Bookmark   February 26, 2010 at 10:19PM
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flowerchild59(z6b IL)

I grow under lots of oaks and walnut trees and have not found the root competition to be much of a problem.
Bevie, the photos are stunning, thanks for sharing them.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2010 at 10:17AM
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