The Woodland Border – 1 Year On

This time last year I had one of my weekends of enthusiastic activity and lifted the turf (well moss) for a new border in the garden (see below).  Then the weather changed and it was hot and dry for months making it almost impossible to dig the new border.  I cheated terribly and covered the soil with a thick layer of green waste  and planted into this.  There were only a couple of shrubs, including the witch hazel you can see above, where I had to hack into the baked clay.  Most of the planting wasn’t actually done until late May/June and then I spent months worrying that the plants weren’t getting a very good start.  I needn’t have worried as the plants seem to have thrived.  The witch hazel flowered beautifully back in February which was a real bonus as I had read somewhere that they had taken a while to flower.

The reason for putting the border in was to indulge my love of woodland plants and also because the so called lawn was really nothing more than moss.  The border is quite shaded by the neighbours trees and the tree roots can be troublesome.  However because the clay soil gets so wet any way it doesn’t become dry.  I was also trying to add some interest to the garden.  I’m ashamed to say that I still haven’t rearranged the plants that were along the fence before I started.  I was going to do it in Autumn but life etc got in the way and then I couldn’t remember what bulbs etc were where.  Anyway, I am now determined to address this as the fence is far too visible and I want to add more substance at the back.

With this in mind I am toying with moving the rhododendron which is currently tucked in under the acer and bamboo.  Of course when these plants were planted they were small and have thrived over the last 5 years.  However, this year the rhododendron isn’t too happy and has few flower buds which is a pity as this is a variety which if memory served me right is called ‘Happy’ and has wonderful magenta flowers which pick up on the candelabra primulas along the steps.  I suspect that this due to the dryness last year and particularly over the winter and also the competition from the bamboo and acer.  I am thinking of moving the rhododendron to the other end of the border to add some substance there but I am hesitating as the ground is hard to dig due to fibrous tree roots and I’m not sure how big a hole I will have to dig.  I will ponder further.

I have been pleased with the spring bulbs I planted in the border and am going to add to them in the Autumn.  The Narcissus  Minnow and Hawera have been fab and Hawera is only now going over.  I planted two types of erythroniums: Pagoda and albidum.  Pagoda seems to be the more robust of the two, which may also explain why it is more widely available and cheaper to buy.  The erythronium albidum appeared and flowered albeit with small flowers and weak stems.  I will add some more Pagoda in the Autumn, I’m thinking of drifting them around the perennials.

There are also quite a few anemones and primulas in the border as well as a good spread of Solomons Seal.  I think I shall add some disporum this year to give the border some height during the summer.

So there is the woodland border one year old – I have to say I am surprised at how well it is developing.



21 Comments on “The Woodland Border – 1 Year On

  1. Looking good after one year. What’s the plant with the white flowers at the back behind the bird feeder? Looks a bit like a Solomon’s Seal, but more like a Maianthemum… Can’t tell from the picture

    • Hi Sue
      It could be either – I have both and cant remember which is which. I think it is a Maienthemum as it is very floriforous

  2. It looks like false solomon seal to me. Is that a plant you have? The garden is filling in nicely!

    • Hi Patty – looking back through photos and old posts it is Maianthemum racemosum

  3. I hope moving the rhododendron works out for you. It’s a big job and always a worry whether the plant will survive the move – I moved a 3 yr old cherry tree in January and had to leave some of the roots behind despite digging an enormous hole but, thankfully, it’s now blossoming nicely so seems perfectly happy! Phew!

    • Hi Caro – it is a big job which no doubt I will procrastinate about for some time

  4. A year on already – doesn’t time fly! Your woodland glade is knitting together well Helen. What I find it harder with my woodland bit is summer/ autumn flowering interest. Spring seems to take care of itself 🙂

    • Hi Anna
      I am taking the approach that other areas of the garden will be peaking in summer/autumn and I am mainly going for foliage interest such as hostas, bergenias and grasses, maybe some foxgloves for early summer

  5. I’ve only just discovered erythronium and think it’s beautiful – and very useful to hear your experience of Pagoda (whiich is the one I think I’ve seen most often available) – thank you!

  6. It’s looking good, and I agree with you that some more substance to hide the fence would be good. The Rhododendron looks like it would be perfect for this, if you can move it safely. Otherwise, maybe get another one, a bit smaller, which would be easier to plant. I really like the curves of the edge, they add a lot of interest.

  7. Hi from Yvonne – NZ – Your border is coming along nicely. Your bulb Hawera must have been bred in Taranaki – NZ – as Hawera a nice little town, near Mt Egmont. Good diary/cow country. Very pretty and lots of nice gardens – especially rhodos etc. Do you use gypsum for helping break clay down? Just sprinkle over and dig in. It is used a lot here in clay areas.

  8. Hi Helen, I had to move two very well established rhodos out of one of the borders. They sulked and glowered at me for a couple of years but they are slowly coming back – though as you say digging into the tree roots won’t make the job any easier.. I could really do with some weekends of enthusiastic activity.

  9. A woodland border is a great idea. My garden already had one when I arrived. Of all the sections of the garden, it requires the least maintenance and brings the most joy.

  10. It is surprising how quickly plants establish themselves – it is all looking good – good luck with all your plans.

  11. It’s looking lovely. I’m hoping to reclaim the corner I have designated for woodland planting, at the feet of the horse chestnut and beech trees, from our stack of wooden pallets in the coming weeks – when we can get out into the garden again! I’m hoping to add Gillenia trifoliata to this area, as I love its tall airy flowers, as well as my first Erythroniums.
    We dug up a mature rhododendron from our garden before our building work, kept it in a huge container for two years, and then planted it back into the border last summer, and looks well. I suspect that it is close to the wild purple form, though, and I worry a little about where it is, or in fact if there is anywhere better to move it too, or whether we should have rescued it at all… I think the place I would be happiest with it would be behind the mature birch, but the roots here make it impossible to add anything so established. Hmm.

  12. I always marvel at how you can consider moving plants at any time other than autumn, it just shows the difference in our climates! I have only a tiny area for shade plants under the mulberry, must be dry shade plants though. Christina

    • Hi Christina – you are assuming that by saying I am thinking of moving something I will actually do it soon. This is not the case it could be months before I weild my fork if not longer

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