embracing my woodland too late?

dkgarberMay 15, 2008

Hi all,

I cleared some diseased/dead/poison ivy infested trees from my back yard upon buying this house. In retrospect, I terribly regret that decision, as the tree guy went chop happy and I feel awful for not keeping some of the healthy trees...but I was obsessed w/a sun drenched yard. now, when I see trees being cut in my town, i cringe and feel sorry for them. I am now a tree fanatic!!

So, I do have a few large ones left although the area def gets more sun that it did before. I am now in the process of putting in some native shrubs to take up some of the room and to create a naturalized garden(viburnum, mountain laurel, blueberry). In the process, i've been "pulling weeds".

I am glad i discovered this forum b/c I am realizing many of the plants I am "pulling" are native little woodland plants! False Lilly of the Valley comes to mind as one I've been yanking. I promise to let the little things live!

I still have a wooded area abutting my "cleared" land--have I ruined my chances to have a nice naturalized garden? Or will nature forgive me and continue to send plants my way?

I certainly have a differenct perspective on gardening than i did only a few short years ago. What started as ornamental, neat, mulched beds has turned into naturalized, native, wildlife haven, woodland.

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You haven't ruined your chances just made them a little more difficult. Some people have restored woodlands from scratch so it must be doable. Around me, most woodlands are actually former farms allowed to return to trees so, with time, lots of things happen regardless. With woodland plants, I start with a "presumption of innocence" until they are identified. It all takes time and research and experience.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2008 at 8:08AM
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leslies(z7 No VA)

Tree-huggers, unite!

Look at it this way: things could be worse - you might have planted a lawn. And now you have an opportunity to plant a diverse new bunch of trees! There's an online company called Oikos that sells native trees. They specialize in crop trees - ones that produce berries, nuts and fruit. The trees are moderately priced whips (anywhere from one to five feet tall) and I've had decent results with their bareroots. They also sell inexpensive biodegradeable tubes to protect young trees from deer. They're not a long-term solution, but can be temporary shelters that will last two years or so until you can get real tree corrals put up. Deer-proofing will probably be the hardest part of reforesting your property.

Another inexpensive source for native trees in your state soil and water conservation district office. Many have tree sales in the spring and fall and they may also sell fruiting shrubs and plants for erosion control. Oops. Looks like Mass may not have a program like that. NY does. Are you in western MA, by any chance?

    Bookmark   May 16, 2008 at 4:23PM
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linda_schreiber(z5/6 MI)

Not too late at all. Keep in mind that if the area had been that neglected and overgrown, at least some of the lost trees were very probably weed trees that you would have chosen to take out at some point. Your chop-happy helper may have really done you damage. Or he may actually have done you some good, despite himself. If you have some of the large trees still there, and are putting in shrubs.... Well, true woodland areas are layered. Large trees. Smaller understory trees. Shrubs. Herbaceous things. Small ephemerals. Etc. Yes, nature will forgive you [grins]. Look at possibilities for some understory trees, [witch hazels and such like] in addition to the shrubs you have been looking at. Check out what *serious weeds* to look out for in your area, get to know them, and pull them out. [Some may actually migrate from the adjoining woodland area. It's good to know what potential problems might be.] Let other things grow until you know what they are, and then decide whether to pull them or keep them. It will be terrific, I promise! Definitely not too late.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2008 at 9:14PM
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I thought I'd post an update.

I took everyone's advice and have discovered many cool things about my yard. First, I found the honeysuckle and multiflora rose and yanked it all out. Then, after doing more research and letting things grow, I discovere I had Jack inthe Pulpits, both false AND real solomon's seal, plaintain leaf sedge and full bladder sedge growing everywhere. WOO HOO!!! I've also seen a couple types of ferns pop up.

I also got a witch hazel, more viburnums, a jacobs ladder and some other native ground covers to help naturalize this area.

We also have some large stumps that were never ground resprout. They are growing to 20 ft now and I've tried to prune theminto multibranched trees. I know they'll never be back to their true glory, but I feel better knowing that I didn't kill them completely and have SOME sort of recourse.

THanks for the advice.I'll post pics of my woodland this eason.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2009 at 11:21AM
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Thanks for the update. In this area some of the really small woodland plants start coming up in February. The important thing about looking at the plants early is that some look entirely different in a month or when they flower.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2009 at 1:46AM
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