Starting small woodland

taureanMarch 24, 2008

Hello! New here. Finally joined after months of lurking because I do not know what to do with myself during winter without gardening. Go figure. Anyway!

I claimed a little spot in our backyard when we moved here 2 years ago and it is a problematic area. Very...... Getting better though. It is a shaded area with two great dogwoods, and some random bush that can take a beating but produces saplings EVERYWHERE. *shudder*. I am trying to make it into a woodland garden but I got one bit problem. It is incredibly dry. For some of the plants there I dug a little hole and put some pond liner down and planted it. The Jack-In-The-Pulpit. And thats about it. There are other plants in there. 5 different ferns, rhododendrons, spruces, LOV, Solomons Seal (true and false), and I don't remember others.

I can't seem to find native plants unless I dig them up from other places legally and it is very dry there because of the massive maple that suck up every bit of water. What do I do?

By the way. I am just 16, and have to save up for college, car, and other things.

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You need to start reading about plants and gardening. Winter is the best time to explore what is available and what the growing conditions for each plant.

By putting the pond liner down you have prevented the plant from establishing itself. Instead you made a container garden where the roots can not expand. You did not know this but you will learn by doing.

Woodland gardens are almost always dry because of the tree roots. The roots of each tree extend to the edge of the leaves and further.

Identify the bush that makes saplings, then identify everything in the area you have selected. Go to the library and check books and magazines to see what the growing conditions for the plants you have then add to the garden as time and money allow.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2008 at 10:18PM
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waplummer(Z5 NY)

Good advice above. I would only add that many natives once established can tolerate dry conditions. In a dry summer they may just go dormant earlier.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2008 at 8:08AM
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I'm so happy you're interested in native plant gardening. You might try calling some Western MA colleges to see if they have horticultural programs - they could recommend local sources, and perhaps offer some volunteer or paid work over the summer...great for college applications. Also -- try seeing if a local garden club has any plant sales. They are usually more than happy to give you free plants after the sale (or connect you with a member who specializes in native plants, again, gardeners are usually very generous). Also -- I was in a garden club that gave out college scholarships -- I bet you'll find some college money just by becoming more active in gardening.

Also -- I'll second that -- once native plants become established, they tolerate dry conditions rather well. I've got jack-in-the-pulpits that have colonized -- didn't put a drop of water on them after the first spring.

Best wishes!

    Bookmark   March 25, 2008 at 9:38AM
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Oh jeez. Should have realized that. Hahaha oh well. I'll fix that once I find it again. Good thing its the only thing I did.

The bush is something I have seen before. They were selling cuttings at a plant sale on native plants.
Never mind found it. Its a Bush Honeysuckle. Was looking at the Massachusetts Plant and Resource lists.

Oh and believe me I have been reading. I have been reading about plants since I was 6. Sure that only makes 10 years of gardening experience but still. I know more than my Biology teacher. Scary.

Thanks for the information. Start calling up and looking up programs. Since my schedule is a little tight for high school. Can't do Italian, Choir, European History AP, and Horticulture at the same time. Not cool.

I'll put more once I start again on my little project. Most likely post pictures.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2008 at 2:59PM
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BlueAng(z4 MN)

I stared gardening when I was in Jr High. Books do not necessary give all the answers - I have found out the hard way that most books are biased or doesn't have enough information - they always says you need high organic moist soil, blah blah. I have garden a good diversity of plants, including natives on less organic sandy soil. My suggestion is to try and find contacts in your area - there are garden clubs, etc. Listen for plant sales, usually about May for Minnesota so I guess you are late April into early May - the plant sales have a rich diversity of plants so there are a good number of native woodland plants to try. I get most of my plants, includes natives from plant sales those days because specialized nurseries are dying off enmass. Price tend to vary - if they are home grown they tend to be cheaper and the plants are vigorous but you have to watch out for hitchhiker exotic or misidentify. If you can't do this I suggest try internet orders even thought it is costly - do a review first on the website - Dave's Garden has a good list of different internet companies.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2008 at 6:52PM
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Yea I noticed about the book thing. Saying many things that grow naturally in the woodland area and they claim "full-sun". Put it in sun and dies. Usual. This weekend the New England Wildflower Society Nursery is opening. Selling native plants. Trying to get my father to go.

And I have another question. Is it possible in my woodland garden to have too much leaves covering? I just let it go naturally during the fall. I let the leaves fall and all but, many of my plants are not as up like last year.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2008 at 6:42PM
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One more thing. Does anyone have any suggestions for plants we might be picking up from the nursery? I am SO excited!!!!

I know I want:
More Jack-In-The-Pulpit
Squirrel Corn

Any to be wary of?

My garden all ready consists of:
Christmas ferns
Ostrich Ferns (LOVE them)
Trout Lilies (just noticed them. Must have hitchedhike)
Flame Azalea
Some pink rhododendron
Bush Honeysuckle
Douglass firs
Random Spruce
False Solomon's Seal
Variegated Solomon's Seal
Red Trilliums planted other week. Haven't came up yet.
Leatherwood Fern. yet again, hasn't came up
Maidenhair fern. Once again.
Grape Hyacinths. No sign of them coming up this year.
Purple anemones. And again.
Have a Jack-In-The-Pulpit. Not sure if it is alive. I think I might have killed it last year.

And my garden is NOT as crowded as it sounds. Its actually quite bare.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2008 at 7:27PM
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Psst. Anyone? Sorry if I am being impatient.

My "deadly soil" is silt. No organic matter but thats being fixed. Leaves decomposing. Pretty much a foot of leaves from last fall. No more racking!

    Bookmark   April 17, 2008 at 2:56PM
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rbrady(5/Eastern Ia)

Don't worry about the leaves, they are just keeping the soil from warming up. My woodland plants are just now starting to show up (zone 5) beacause the soil is still cold.

How about some Aquilegia, Baneberry, Blue Cohosh, Cimifuga, or Campanulastrum americana for your garden? All are natives and are lovely.


    Bookmark   April 17, 2008 at 9:42PM
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ontnative(5b Can/USDA 4)

You didn't say what books you have been researching. Have you read Bill Cullina's books or any by Lorraine Johnson? They are some of my favourites. Other ones I really like are by Louise Beebe Wilder and Bebe Miles. Some of these I got on the net from used book dealers (relatively cheap). Just because the author wrote the book in the 1940s-1960s, doesn't mean the information is out of date. Wildflowers (natives) haven't changed over the years. Also, if you have grape hyacinths in your woods, they are NOT native and will try to take over. I would move them up near your house or somewhere they are not competing with the local plants. I agree with some of the other posters that you shouldn't be discouraged by reading that certain plants like moist, part-sun, for example, and be reluctant to try them. Most natives are more adaptable than the books would have you believe.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2008 at 9:05AM
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While looking for shade ideas myself I found an 8-page article on COLOR plants for shade I thought was very helpful. It is in the current issue of Garden Ideas magazine (Spring 08). This magazine is available at most libraries. Shows and describes many brightly colored shade plants, colors available, growing conditions, appropriate zones, etc. Especially like the many colors of astilbes. Might be worth looking at for ideas.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2008 at 2:49PM
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I've read through many books at Barnes and Noble. I really enjoyed "The American Woodland Garden" By some guy I didn't quite get the name of. Sorry I don't remember anything else.

I do realize that the grape hyacinths are evil and will try ti take over my world. No idea how they ended up there. Must have been the residents before we moved in. Good thing there is only 3.

I found a few nurseries that specialize in native plants :D. Got myself a bloodroot, wild columbine and some more False Solomon's Seal, also some more trout lilies. And moved back a bleeding heart. My first bloom in my garden. Sorry for crappy picture:

    Bookmark   April 20, 2008 at 9:36PM
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