Any advice?

organic-kiki(Zone 6)June 21, 2006

I have decided to try to do 'something' with the woods in front of my house. I hope I can ask the right questions. There are lots of oak trees, moss and huckleberries. I want to plant ferns, hostas, astilbies and have already planted one of each of those plus I am trying to border one side of the drive with lillyturf. Before I go any further and cause myself any heartache I thought I should get some advice. Are the plants I mentioned above going to flourish where moss grows? I think of all woodland plants growing together, but I have a feeling it can't be that simple,lol. I am also interested in many of the wildflowers.....jack-in-the-pulpit, trillium, ginger, may apples, etc. (I had Indian pipe growing in my rhododendruns one year!)

I set out a 'Bressingham Beauty' astilbie, will it spread, does anyone know?

I also wondered if I can get some of the wild grasses and weeds out of the moss?

Thanks for any help at all.


Blue Ridge Mts.

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Don't know about your astilbe.
For weeds and grass in the moss my best guess is to just pull it up with one hand on the ground around the stem of what you pull so that you don't take out too much moss with what you pull.
My Jack in the pulpits do best near water but I have not seen them actually in moss. Same goes for my may apples. I think I have seen some of my ginger in moss.
My ferns do well anywhere that is shady and not too dry. You could cetainly give those a try. My mayapples also like it a little bit moist but seem to be much more sun tolerant than my ferns. Got to say that I kind of like what you already had when you moved in. If you are inclined to natives, you might want to check out "Planting Noah's Garden" by Sara Stein.
Good Luck!

    Bookmark   June 21, 2006 at 10:41PM
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I don't really mind what I have except that it all looks pretty messy and I do have areas where poison ivy is creeping in. I will check out the book, thanks for the tip. I don't know that I will really try to get rid of anything that is there, but maybe plant a few extras and try to tidy up a bit if I can figure out how.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2006 at 9:56AM
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kwoods(Cold z7 Long Is)

Huckleberries, moss and oak sounds like it is likely acidic soil. I know huckleberries need a ph of around 5 to be happy. Test the ph and if acidic try to find plants that like those conditions.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2006 at 10:18AM
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Moss huckleberries and oaks?Sound beautifully undisturbed to me. Maybe you should teach yourself how to reconize its beauty before you try to "make it prettier".I seen too much destroyed in the name of "gardening".

    Bookmark   June 22, 2006 at 2:17PM
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virginia_w(z3 WI)

I have a lot of moss in my woodland/shade garden. The soil is quite acidic, but you can grow all those woodland wildflowers you mentioned. I have trillium, mayapple, jack-in-the-pulpit, hepatica, bloodroot, shooting stars, dutchman's britches, and merrybells. I plant spring bulbs like species tulips, daffodils, and scilla, and by the time they disappear, my hostas, bleeding hearts, astilbes, and other shade plants are filling in.
Also, Bob is right, you can weed the moss, by holding one had around the stem of the weed and pulling gently so that you don't pull out too much moss. Good luck!

    Bookmark   June 22, 2006 at 2:25PM
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Thanks, y'all. Yes, I do like it, just that it needs something just not sure what. I think if I get the weedy things out of the moss and maybe cut back a few small trees. I mean tiny ones cause I don't want to have it so crowded with brush. Does anyone know what I mean? I have seen woods around here that you cannot walk thru for the brush and some of ours is getting brushier every year. Little trees and I don't know what all the brush is. I don't want too many hiding places for the rattle snakes altho they have even just been found laying under a car in the drive.....usually now the grandchildren find them at least one a summer and they have been good about always coming to tell us instead of trying to mess with them. Copperheads are not as bad. We must be in their natural path when the weather gets hot and dry.

I usually make a 'planting mix' that I use when I set out new plants and to topdress with......shredded leaves, potting soil (none of the miracle gro stuff), worm castings, a few coffee grounds. Any reason not to use that in the 'woods'? The back yard is just an opening in the woods but might have spots that get 5-6 hours of sun....might. But to actually do anything with more woodland plants is new to me.
Thanks for all help,

    Bookmark   June 24, 2006 at 9:42AM
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grandmapoo(z8 S.Texas)

Yes Kiki, I know just EXACTLY what you're talking about! My back yard woodland garden was nothing but briars and thorny vines when I started, all wrapped around hundreds of tiny oaks and other underbrush. The well groomed back yard met the DENSE, UNRULEY woods and a woodland garden just made sense. I've had it now for 4 yrs and am still tweeking it. I think that's the fun of it once you get some kind of vision and plan. Also, I have rheumatoid arthritis, which limits my ability to keep up more refined gardens. So first, I loosely sketched my "vision" on paper, but had no idea how it was really going to look. It takes time to clear, but even more time in thought about where and what to clear out and what to plant. I had to get help with the initial clearing, but after that I designed and planted by looking at other gardens and reading about design and plants. I would do a new sketch in each step of the way. All woodland gardens have a similar look, but are very personal and different at the same time. Sometimes my new ideas won't actually happen until the next spring! Look at it as a creative process and take your time. Mine now has a small naturalized pond with water plants and goldfish, which brings the wildlife literally right into the yard.
Good luck and enjoy creating your new garden! :)

    Bookmark   June 27, 2006 at 11:31AM
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Wow, grandma, do you have pics. It sounds great.

I know to some I am giving the idea that I want a 'manicured' look. That is far from the truth. Just want to be able to walk around and see any hidden dangers and not have it look too overgrown.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2006 at 12:28PM
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grandmapoo(z8 S.Texas)

I understand that completly. I too, have grandchildren, that love the garden and pond and I have to be careful what plants/shrubs I add. (so many are poisonous) My garden was "born" before they were and I've considered taking out the pond after my 1yr old grand daughter fell in it! Thank God I was right there. My 5 yr old grandson once fell in the cactus when he was 2 yrs old. I've made some changes because of it. The things toddlers will do! LOL

    Bookmark   June 27, 2006 at 12:54PM
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Just wanted to say that even tho it may sound like I want to 'ruin' my woods, that is not it, just want to tidy up some as I said......if you all could just see my driveway, lol. I finally had to trim it so it didn't scratch all the vehicles. Blackberry vines, Queen Anne's lace, chicory, crown vetch, Joe-pye Weed, Mullien, a couple of daisy lookin wild flowers and some other things I can't name.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2006 at 11:54AM
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grandmapoo(z8 S.Texas)

I think most people have a pretty good idea what they want in the way of the look, but have trouble making it happen or are afraid to do the work and not have it work out...Well, that's my description of myself anyway! lol

If you are overwelmed, as I get sometimes, I think you should probably make some notes of your ideas and decide what area to tackle first. Maybe get an idea of what trees you want to plant around and start clearing the unwanted brush for a path.
Just a suggestion to help you get started. I know that when I mapped out my paths, I could get more of a vision of where I wanted to plant what and what I wanted to cut away.
You know you can also transplant things you may want to change later, too. I've done that many times. :)

    Bookmark   July 7, 2006 at 4:46PM
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I repeat, what youve discribed is a compleatly undisturbed area.Once you start digging you're going to change that.Expect the emmergence of unwanted weeds as a result,thorns,poisonivy garlic mustard to start.I.m not saying don't do anything,Its your property,you can do what you want,just understand the consequences.We all think we can improve on mother nature,that human nature,But its also human nature to fool our selves about the actual results of our efforts.Go slow,cause its hard to go back,Beleive me,I know first-hand.And in my mind hostas.astilbe,and definately lillytuff don't belong there.Think viable native species indigeous to your area instead of sterile nonnative clones.We garden with the future eden in mind.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2006 at 4:47PM
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Hello Kiki,
I just started the exact same project except it is a sloping area in the middle of my backyard shaded by mature Oak, maple, birch and their offspring - a real deep shade area. Like grandma said, I sketched out a design first and keep saying to myself, I can always transplant - which may happen fast for my climbing hydrenga which was burning up in the part-shade it was previously in and now is huge. Anyway, I started with a small section - the edge with dappled sunlight so I wouldn't feel overwhelmed and removed the bramble and replaced it with plants from my own property - hellesbore, hostas, lamium, ferns, may apples etc. and created a natural path which will eventually lead into the deep shade - an area clear of plants due to the shade and perfect for seating amoung the towering trees where I can look at the moss covered rocks and enjoy the natural setting that I've made useable. I did spend 1 year planning, but love the results.
Good Luck, if you have 1/2 as much fun as I did you'll be thrilled!

    Bookmark   July 27, 2006 at 5:01AM
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